On Making Prototypes

As I stingy woodworker, I have always privately frowned on prototypes.  From my perspective, they seemed such a waste of time and materials.  After all, if you are an experienced woodworker, why can’t you just make it right the first time?  And why waste all that pine and plywood on something that will have to be taken apart and trashed when the real project is complete?

Now I know.

I just bought some specialized drill bits to drill the tobacco chambers for the pipes I’ve been making.  I had been using pre-bored material, but I want the flexibility that comes with doing it myself.  I had to figure out how to use these bits, but I wanted to practice on something I could actually use to make a pipe if all went well with the drilling.  I knew that cherry is sometimes used in place of briar, often for low-quality pipes, since cherry burns more easily than briar.  I dug some 8/4 cherry offcuts out of the bin and went to work.

The pipe shown above is the result of my second attempt.  My first attempt was used to grill chicken this evening.  Instead of destroying a $15 block of imported briar burl, I destroyed a small scrap of wood that might have lain around for another decade.  I’m pleased with the shape of this pipe and I think I’ll try to make a duplicate in briar now.

I don’t think I’ll be making prototypes on a regular basis, but I understand the rationale now.  If I’m using a new technique or some irreplaceable material, I want to be sure I can do it right.

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5 Responses to On Making Prototypes

  1. Brian Eve says:

    Good point! I like making things in multiples. The second of whatever I am making always benefits from the experience gained on the first.

  2. I like to do new techniques or try joinery that I haven’t done before on scraps first. As I do more and more hand tool work, I find myself doing it more and more.

  3. john says:

    For whatever reason things don’t always go the way you want on a project. Something is off either due to measurement, sequence, cutting error, thickness of wood varies to name a few. When you find the mistake it is after the fact. So when I make something for the first time I have 20 misses but if I make it the second time my misses are reduced. Its the same as when you site read a piece of music and then go over it a few times things get better.

  4. meeteyorites says:

    In my job–well you can’t do that with human beens–no not really, no…was Pinnochio a prototype, then? {Pygmalion?} Just thinking out loud…

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