Stuck and Unstuck


It happens at least once during every design workshop. A woodworker looks up with a grin and points to a drawing. It’s followed with a declaration that goes something like this,  “This drawing may not look like much to you, but for me this is a breakthrough. I just pulled this simple design together in ten minutes. At home I might have struggled for days to do this.”

I know, I’ve been there, know exactly what it feels like to get lost in the tall grass when it comes to design. The worst part about the tall grass is that you can wander for so long you lose your confidence. Even when the design finally does take shape you doubt your judgment.

After working with hundreds of students I find that they usually struggle in two areas. Either they freeze up at the very beginning, unable to get off square one, or they don’t trust their judgment and choke when it comes to the final refinements.

I have good news and bad news for both scenarios. First the bad news. Every designer, no matter how talented gets into that tall grass with the same struggles. The difference is they have been there many times and know that struggle is part of the process. But they still labor over details, just at a higher level. Now the good news. A basic understanding of proportions, simple shapes, and curvature can make a huge difference. Hence those grins from workshop students.

I’m finishing up 2015 with two weekend workshops. There are still a few openings in both. Come learn how to get unstuck.

Oct 17th – 18th at Marc Adams

Nov 7th – 8th  at Richard Grells

George R. Walker


About walkerg

Woodworker and writer
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4 Responses to Stuck and Unstuck

  1. nathanbreidinger says:

    George – I just wanted to say that By Hand & Eye was a jaw-dropping, a-ha moment-filled experience for me. I also realized it’s just the beginning. I can’t stop looking at design elements. Like most woodworkers I’m constantly examining woodwork and furniture wherever I go. I was re-designing a dresser from a plan in which the original called for three drawers stacked upon one another and open shelves to one side. I decided I wanted a seven drawer configuration instead – a traditional three across the top and four on the bottom. When I was sketching it using the same proportions as the drawers in the plan, the top three drawers looked so silly to me! I used the principles in that book to fix it. The top row of drawers ended up slightly shorter when looking at the elevation. My wife didn’t get it – why was I fretting about theses proportions for days? We recently went to a hotel which had manufactured dressers in the rooms and all the drawers in three rows were the same height. It looked worse in person than it did on paper! It looks clunky, top-heavy, and a few other things that I couldn’t put my finger on. “See?!” I said to my wife. She still didn’t get it. But that’s ok. I was vindicated! At least in my mind. That’s a long way of saying, “Thanks George and Jim.” Keep it up. I’d love to take one of your classes some day.

    • walkerg says:


      Glad to hear you are putting the lessons into practice. Have to admit though it is both a blessing and curse. I’ve always been opinionated about furniture, architecture, etc. Now even more so!


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