Perfection is elusive

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StanBrown

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I am fairly new at this. I have turned around 100 pens with varying degrees of success and/or failure. Nearly every pen I've turned so far has a flaw of some kind. It might be a major flaw or it might be so small it can only be seen under extreme magnification, but either way I know it's there. Sometimes it can be hidden behind the clip, most times it can't.

Is this a common experience or am I being my own worst critic?
 
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mark james

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Very common to me also. Some are minor and just bug me, others are more significant. But it all depends on your objective: I like the challenge of the design, after that is successful, I'm good. Others are needing to meet the standards and expectations of customers, or personal expectations.

Each is valid, just depends where your interests lie.
 

MRDucks2

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I seem to experience both satisfaction and frustration with every pen I make. Satisfaction on that I learned and what went well, frustration with the flaws or errors.

I found in showing pens to other non pen turners, even my wife, and they will not find the flaws I see in every pen.

Seems there are few schools of thought on here:
- as long as you are learning and getting better, challenging yourself more you are good.
- if a pen has flaws, it isn’t worth showing or selling. If you screw it up, throw it in a drawer or throw it away.
- no pen is complete unless it is perfect in fit and finish under 10x magnification.

I am part of the first group. I hope to some day be a part of the third group. The second group, well, let’s just say that they kind of stand out on this site as everyone’s critics.

Keep turning and having fun. My youngest daughter in Houston, who is an artist, says that you should never be satisfied with your own work if you truly care about what you are doing.


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leehljp

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I remember this conversation 10 or 12 years ago here - and from some that I thought never made mistakes!

My dad used to say the the sign of a good carpenter was one that could hide his mistakes! :biggrin:

The striving for perfection drives us on!

And the same basic meaning in Robert Browning's words: "“Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what's a heaven for?”"
 

1080Wayne

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Well , if a customer can see a flaw on a pen or something else I have made , I obviously didn`t spend enough time on the item . Conversely , if I can`t see a flaw on an item , I spent too much time on it (or I just plain forgot to use my 10x magnification to assist my aging eyes .)
 
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What I've found is that I'm my own worst critic and I think you're the same. My father in law, who taught me everything about wood working, would always show me one of his recent projects and he always was disappointed because somewhere on the project he had a flaw according to him. He would always ask me to go over the item he made to try and find it, I never did, and as long as I couldn't find it he was happy. Some wood species I think have natural flaws in the grain pattern etc. I work a lot with Koa and I've been known to almost sand down to the tube to get what I think is a horizontal sanding line out of the wood. On closer inspection I have found that 9 out of 10 times it's the grain pattern and not my sanding technique. Don't be so hard on yourself. Sometimes we're our own worst critics.
 

Bob in SF

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Good thread.

My Dad often talked about constant striving fueled by humility and an abiding curiosity. These values are well represented in this forum.

My stumbles are a treasure trove of experience.

Happy Sunday to all those who work raw materials with reverence and a zest for adventure.

- Bob
 

Curly

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Better affliction to have than the ones who make flawed pens (finish & fit) and have a table full to sell thinking they are perfect. They are likely the ones that have done half donkey work their entire lives and feel it's perfectly fine to do so.
 

bsshog40

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Oct 2, 2018
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I am my own worst critic also. My wife calls me OCD. I may start off with a certain design I want and one slip of the spindle gouge or skew and I'm having to do something different. I'll find a small speck of white that I missed during a CA finish or an edge burn from sandpaper. Could be anything but I will find something. The wife never notices though! Lol
 

MRDucks2

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Well , if a customer can see a flaw on a pen or something else I have made , I obviously didn`t spend enough time on the item . Conversely , if I can`t see a flaw on an item , I spent too much time on it (or I just plain forgot to use my 10x magnification to assist my aging eyes .)


I like this perspective.


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leehljp

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Stan,
My second post on this thread:
. . . I did make the perfect pen once (it was a segment/stripe) and it made the IAP front page - a good 10 or 11 years ago. Several people asked me how I made it. . . . Well, I decided to make another and document EVERY step.

http://www.penturners.org/photos/images/940/1_Baron_PenStripes.jpg

I made the next blank, something was off; threw the blank away and started a new blank;
Third blank - one end was skewed; threw it aside and started the 4th blank.
Fourth blank - similar problems;; tried a 5th blank, and a 6th and a 7th.

Gave up! I just happened to hit it perfect the first time and could not duplicate it after that. :rolleyes:

When perfection comes your way on a pen - ENJOY IT! It does happen sometimes!
 
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StanBrown

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Waller,Texas
I did make the perfect pen once (it was a segment/stripe) and it made the IAP front page - a good 10 or 11 years ago.

When perfection comes your way on a pen - ENJOY IT! It does happen sometimes!
Wow. That is one beautiful pen. Easy to see how it made the front page, and easy to see why you could not duplicate it. I can only hope to achieve something like that someday.
 

mmayo

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Jan 12, 2013
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A better woodworker friend of mine told me that the real skill in woodworking is the hide any errors elegantly. A few of my tackle boxes have new design features that look great, but were not my original idea. If only I know about it and no one can find it, I’m cool with it. I am disappointed but it works.

I try not to make mistakes and still throw a few pen tubes into the trash so I won’t be tempted to use them. I’ll keep trying, reading, trying new techniques or new to me techniques to get better. At a recent show a person carefully inspected one of my Sierra type pens, looked at the price and then said “your pen is better and cheaper than those he had seen around town”. He asked how I could do that. I told him I do my best and hope people like it.

We all need to strive for perfection but not beat ourselves up when we don’t achieve it.
 
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