1 reason why I never loved my Engineering workshop

The woodworking workshop class in my 1st year engineering always spelt boredom. Back then, I was taught to use the planer to smoothen the surface of the wood. I had to work with saw, hammer and chisel to make dovetail joints (exactly like the one you see in the image). There was also foundry as part of the class where I had to file metal and make joints.

In hindsight, I wish I had made the most use of it. But in reality, I never really enjoyed my workshop class and always looked at means to avoid it.

I take immense pleasure in doing the same things now. But what was so different and difficult back then?
A dovetail joint
Dovetail Joint
Img courtesy :

What made it uninteresting for me?

First and foremost, I had to make dove tail joints without getting an opportunity to see those dovetails on a finished product. In a sense, I did not understand the rationale behind a joint. I understood planing wood resulted in a smooth surface, but never realized the consequences of the otherwise.

I did not build a cabinet or a table and in the process learn the technicalities. Maybe then, I might have understood its use better. On the contrary, a dovetail joint is all that I had to make.

It was like learning alphabets, and not using them to construct sensible sentences or like learning recursive loops, and not using them to write practical programs.

Just a funny cartoon
Looks like the same logic works for complex math too
img courtesy : loldaddy

What would have otherwise made it interesting for me?

Personally, planing wood or making joints is still so boring that I would rather not indulge in it. But what makes it interesting and necessary is the associated outcome. I need to really look at a stained finish with and without sanding for me to appreciate the need for sanding.  And it takes a wobbly cabinet to make me understand the value of a joint in the overall process of woodworking.

Rather than gaining perspectives on just the techniques, learning to make a functional product and in the process understanding the underlying principles makes learning woodworking more enjoyable for me.

I have never been bothered by the intricacies of a product. It is always about durability and good looks and it does not largely matter how one has implemented it (at least until sometime ago). Which is why to me, making a handy piece of furniture end to end, and then to work backwards to learn the specifics that went into building it, would have made more sense

Your opinion matters

What is your opinion? Have you ever had to make batter in your home economics class, but never got the chance to bake a cake? How does that feel? J Leave me a comment.

- Somu

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  1. You make a good point. It was the same with me in school. Woodworking and metal working were a real pain.

    1. Considering it was a real pain for you in school, it would be really interesting and inspiring to know how you eventually got pulled into woodworking :)

  2. Nachhunu oru point !
    but i loved my workshop, it was only place in my college which screwed me badly(other than exam hall)

    1. Hi Deepak, Thanks for dropping in and leaving your thoughts behind :) You loved it despite being screwed badly ? That is surprising. I am assuming you did pretty well in your workshop then.

  3. You were lucky!! The only thing they let us do on our own is smithy and foundry. I so much wanted to do some carpentry in college unfortunately they did not let us touch the tools.
    It is always better to use the technique in a a real project. I do love hand planing and making joints still fascinates me. Sanding Im not so fond of. Though while making fine wood projects when I reach 400 grit on hardwood it really feels worth it. An almost silk like surface is great to feel.
    My perspectives might be skewed though as I do less hand planing and use the planer and joiner a lot. Also I have tools that can really make things in a jiffy so some hand work is a welcome distraction.

    1. True Kittu. When you get to feel the outcome it really feels worth it. Luckily for us we were allowed to use only hand tools, but the subject itself was not so interesting for me to be drawn in. It is good that you have tools. Not only do they save time, but also result in much better finishes. I still use hand tools for all my needs and where I cannot so something, I outsource :)

  4. LOl.. thats so very true!! lol!! :)

    1. You didn't like it either ? Well, welcome aboard :)


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