Thursday, May 10, 2012

Becoming Craftmaster Pete

I've had a lot of time to think lately, and a lot of time to play chess. I've never been great at the game, despite being in the chess club in high school (yes, I was that cool), but I've been practicing a lot these past few weeks, playing on the computer, game after game on progressive levels of difficulty, trying to learn the intricacies and strategies that will turn me into a formidable competitor.

Why?

Because I want to play chess against Lucy someday. And I want to beat her, not for the glory of winning against a five year old, but to challenge her. And maybe, someday, I'll let her win. I want to be the kind of dad who teaches life lessons through things like chess and exploring expeditions in the woods behind our house.

But that's enough about my parenting aspirations. Let's get to the point: what's with all this chess talk?

Well, I'm going to build a chess set.

There, I wrote it on the internet, that's as good as a signed contract.

This post is going to come with a sort-of confession: I'm not a master wood worker, as you may assume. At best, I'm a hobbyist, and so the very idea of building an entire chess set (32 pieces and a board!) is pretty intimidating, and it's something I want to do right. That's why I'm totally copying Leslie's Junkmaster curriculum to create my own path to becoming what I'm going to call: a Craftmaster.

Before tackling the chess set, I'll have to hone my skills on a variety of other projects and challenges to learn what I need to know. Although the term craft is pretty general, this is specifically designed to make me an expert at woodcraft. After a lot of thought, here is the Craftmaster Curriculum:

1. Tuition and fees: Invest in the necessary tools to build a proper workshop.
2. Field experience: Visit five lumber/salvage yards and get familiar with the wood.
3. Project: Restore a piece of furniture using wood.
4. Research: Learn how to identify different types of wood, and how to select the best type and piece for the project at hand (study aboard program).
5. Networking 101: Attend a wood crafting class or get advice from an expert.
6. Mid-term exam: Create a wood carving by hand.
7. Lab: Experiment with different staining and painting techniques.
8. Reclaimed Wood 101: Build a piece of furniture out of 100% reclaimed wood.
9. Senior Project: Make a chess set.

I have to admit that I'm a little nervous taking on a project this big, but I do appreciate a good challenge. And I'm excited about the prospect of building something meaningful for my daughter. I'll keep you updated as I progress through the curriculum, and if you have any advice, I'd love to hear it. Wish me luck!