I was thumbing through an old issue of Woodwork magazine – a great magazine that sits defunct after being purchased back in 2013. (It followed the same path that closed the doors on American Woodworker, another magazine that was at one time the leader in the woodworking field.) In the issue I found a list of Wendell Castle’s top 10 adopted rules of thumb from 1996. (If you’re not familiar with Castle, do a quick Google search and sit back to be amazed by his work.)
What struck me about the list was that his rules are still pertinent today. In fact, more than a couple seem to me to be directed at woodworkers – they almost float off the page. Below is Wendell Castle’s list. The few that stand out to me, I put in italics.
1. If you are in love with an idea, you are no judge of its beauty or value.
2. It is difficult to see the whole picture when you are inside the frame.
3. After learning the tricks of the trade, don’t think you know the trade.
4. We hear and apprehend what we already know.
5. The dog that stays on the porch will find no bones.
6. Never state a problem to yourself in the same terms in which it was brought to you.
7. If it’s offbeat and surprising, it’s probably useful.
8. If you do not expect the unexpected, you will not find it.
9. Don’t get too serious.
10. If you hit the bulls-eye every time, the target is too close.
I’m particularly fond of #10. It’s a personal favorite. I’ve always preached (and practiced) to keep pushing yourself in life and in woodworking. And don’t be afraid to fail – you learn more from a failure than you do if it all comes out great.
And #9 should be on everyone’s list. You have to have fun. If you cannot laugh at yourself and others, you’re taking woodworking too seriously.
If any listed rule of thumb is special to you, or if you have something to add to the list, please leave a comment below.