woodworking shopProfessional woodworkers use routines to aid in consistently achieving quality results. Use simple habits to assist in getting the most out of shop time.

Habit 1: Plan Your Course

Before any project, review the plans and line up and tools and materials that will be needed. Think about each step that is involved. Write down an outlining order so that steps can be accomplished. Use the outline as a checklist. If the project is started and it is found that the plan needs to be altered, write it on the list. The checklist will ensure that any important steps are not forgotten.

Habit 2: Take Notes

Trying to remember every step, tool, material, or trying to remember where the project was left off will prove to cause more problems than necessary. In order to keep a project moving full force, take notes as needed. Do not try to remember items. While a person is concentrating, the memory or mental note will be forgotten. Do not stop in the middle of a step. Stop after the step to write down the note. If you stop in the middle of the step, the progress or next step will be forgotten and mistakes are made.

Habit 3: Get Rid of Distractions

Although a lot of workers disagree with the results of the studies done; research shows that the human mind can only concentrate on one step or task at one time. It shows that multitasking is unsafe and causes many mistakes to occur. Multitasking is actually forcing the brain to jump back and forth between tasks. Distractions include conversation, radios, televisions, and anything else that requires attention on any level.

Habit 4: Stop Loosing What is Needed

Misplaced tools can be very agitating. A clean and clear work space will provide work that is progressed forward and lowers irritation levels. Clear away scraps, sawdust, and chips that are on the work bench. Throw away trash and do not just sit it down to come back to it later. Tools are often lost in a pile of debris. When getting out a tool, use it and then put it away when the tool is no longer needed. This will also ensure that no tools are thrown away by accident.

Habit 5: Collect Safety

Equipment that is used for safety protects the worker. It should be used with every piece of equipment every time. Before the project is started, ensure that all safety equipment that is needed is collected and placed at the work station. This should be a part of every routine in the shop. This may include items like earplugs, safety goggle or glasses, push sticks, and possibly a respirator. Before the first cut, make sure that all items needed for the project are located at the work station.

Habit 6: Make Marks

As project parts are made, place a mark on them to identify which piece it is for the project. Examples are front, back, bottom, or side. If there is a blue print used, normally there are numbers or letters to identify the pieces. Mark the coordinating number or letter on the piece to make it match the plan.

New, productive habits will ensure that shop time is utilized efficiently. Follow all safety guidelines and remember that it takes approximately three weeks to form a habit.