Self Doubt


 Have you allowed “Self Doubt” to creep into your woodworking?


NOTE: I receive numerous emails from woodworkers during the course of a week and the post below is in response to a woodworker in Minnesota that had reached the end of his rope, so to speak. I’m happy to report that after several emails we were able to determine the cause of his distress and rectify it.

This woodworker is now re-committed to being the best woodworker he can be and I have no doubt that he’ll reach all of his goals. Don’t let “Self Doubt” sneak into your woodworking.


There are many hurdles in the career of a woodworker, some are easier than others to get over and some threaten the very continuance of the craft itself within certain individuals. The enemy in this case is “self doubt” and make no mistake; it’s an enemy that needs to be battled with, quickly and efficiently.
On several occasions over the years I’ve heard a few people say things like, “I’ll never get it”, “I can’t figure this out”, and the worst one of all is. “I might as well sell my tools and forget about the whole woodworking thing”. If this sounds like you, you’re not alone. Let’s take a look at the enemy (Self Doubt) and see how we as woodworkers can defeat this, at times formidable foe.
Self Doubt can be defined as a “lack of confidence” or “doubting one’s own abilities”. Self Doubt usually creeps in when all of the enthusiasm at the start of the project begins to give way to the doubting of one’s ability to complete the project given the enormity, complexity or the unfamiliarity of the project. It’s at this point where “self doubt” can get his foot in the door and if you don’t slam the door on self doubt here and now you could be in for trouble. It’s also at this point where we may choose to compromise our original plan and settle for something less because of our inability to meet the challenge at hand. Phrases like, “I’ll just do it the easy way, no one will notice and why bother going through the hassle of doing it the way I first planned”…sadly, you just compromised because of lack of confidence to do it the way you originally planned.
I’ve always maintained that woodworking is nothing more that a series of processes and procedures (milling, shaping, sanding, assembly, finishing etc.) that when followed correctly the end result is a rewarding conclusion.  And it’s usually some little process or procedure in the life of a project that can trip up a woodworker and allows the enemy to creep in.
Any professional Project Manager will tell you that even the largest jobs can and are broken down into smaller jobs and then all of these are assembled to make the whole. Think of the construction of a house and the entire sub assemblies (foundation, framing, electrical, plumbing etc) that go into that construction to produce a finished product.
So if we as woodworkers think in terms as a Project Manager does and break down every task that’s involved in a woodworking project to it’s smallest task or skill set required before we start a given project,  we can see trouble (Self Doubt) coming before he gets a chance to get his foot in the door. And if we need to polish up on our skills or even learn a new skill, nows the time to do it, before the project starts. We don’t’ want to be in the middle of a project and discover that we’ve left the door open to self doubt.