Don’t let perceived limitations stop you from creating.

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I understand. A great idea for a woodworking project has arisen and taken hold of your creative mind, the concept has become clear, and perhaps you even have made scale drawings. Now this fine thought could come to fruition but, unfortunately, something stands in the way.

Maybe your jointer isn't wide enough to handle the required components. Or maybe your bandsaw doesn't have enough capacity. Maybe the boards you found for the project just don't have the consistent color and figure that you really wanted. Your shop isn't big enough—or you don't have a real shop at all. Anyway, you really don't have the time. And is it worth the effort?

It's always something.
Always, because making real things is done in the real world, with all its disappointing limitations. The wood is never quite right. There is always one more tool that would surely make the work a breeze, but you don't have it yet. A wide belt sander? Sure, that will solve everything. Everything, that is, until the next perceived limitation comes along.

Try this: Make it anyway. It may not be perfect or exactly the way you envisioned it, but it will exist. Until then, it is nothing.

Let's take an example from music history. What do you do if you are an organist renowned throughout Europe, later to be recognized as one of the greatest composers in history, but you are unceremoniously fired and then must move to a place and a position where you don't have access to an organ? That must have been like a woodworker with no planes!

Well, if you are Johann Sebastian Bach, you deal with the limitations and use the available resources to make magic, like what you see here—part of a masterwork set of pieces for violin.

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Don't sweat what you don't have. Despite not having access to an organ—the instrument on which he was accomplished—Bach still created some of the most beautiful music the world has ever heard.

So, what then, when you have finished your work? If the piece you made is the product of a sincere effort, it becomes its own point of reference, freed from the maker's expectations, limitations, and nervousness. Whether you see it as excellent or just fair, the piece now has a life of its own.

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What you create may not be perfect, but it exists, and it now has a life of its own.

It is too late to make changes. This is just as well, because now, hopefully, everything seems right unto itself at whatever level the work was done, including the imperfections and the doubts, almost as if it was meant to be that way.

Deal with limitations, do the best you can, and accept the result for what it is. But above all, make something.

Because it's always something—until the thing that you make is.

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