Recently, I decided it was time to replace my mixing desk. While the desk in my studio was allowing me to get my work done, it had a handful of drawbacks – it was too small, ergonomically sad, and didn’t leave me with all my audio tools within arm’s reach.
Now, one of the other things I love to do is woodworking. Over the years, I’ve built many functional – and even some pretty – items for my home and my studio. So I have a pretty good handle on building stuff out of wood, and I have many of the right tools.
Do you see where I’m going here? Yes, I built the desk myself, and I absolutely love it.
How did I build it? Well, here’s where the story gets interesting and hopefully useful. I drew up many designs on scraps of paper, but nothing that was exactly a blueprint. I drew up just enough detail to decide that I was ready to build. I bought the materials – mostly birch plywood – and brought these massive sheets of plywood into my workshop.
Then I began. First, I knew the height and depth that I wanted for the side supports, but I didn’t know exactly what shape I needed, so I cut plain rectangles that matched the height and depth that I needed. Then I began shaping these rectangles, first to make the bays which would hold my audio processors, and then to offer a pleasing shape to the desk frame. At each step, I used the appropriate woodworking tool to sculpt away the bits I didn’t want, leaving my working piece a little closer to finished. The first cuts needed the table saw, some needed the compound miter saw, and the detail cuts needed the jigsaw. Sanding the pieces smooth required a palm sander and a detail crafting tool.
Ultimately, I had the pieces I needed, and assembled them into a desk which looks quite professional, and better yet – does everything I need it to do.
So, what’s the point of this story? It occurred to me, as I sculpted my work pieces into their final form, that my woodworking has a lot in common with songwriting and music production: I start with a big (rough) idea, and I use all the tools at my disposal to sculpt it into the result I seek. At any point in time, there’s a distance between the current form and the final result, but step by step, I get closer and closer until I’m ready to call my project “finished”. And just like in woodworking, when I’m producing music, the end goal is there all along, buried within the rough ideas, waiting for me to sculpt away the unwanted material and expose the image waiting underneath.
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