DDIY: don’t do it yourself

Sometimes, you run into something that is outside your realm. Be it a lack of skills, funds, tools, insurance, materials, or whatever, this project becomes the bane of your existence. This is when you need to turn to outside help.

In the corporate world, this is known as outsourcing. In the crafting world, it’s known as cheating. Somehow, there’s a lesser opinion of material that was assembled from someone else’s parts.

Reality should be checked here. Because it still took a vision to place part a from this manufacturer with part b from that manufacturer. This is some of the magic behind making props: seeing something that can be made into or from another. This is at the core of wood working: making a three dimensional object from something that is essentially two dimensional.

But sometimes, that process requires a kick-start. It is ok to go outside your room, resources, or whatever you call it to have something made for you. Setting the wayback machine for colonial times, the village blacksmith and carpenter would do just this: make the basics that the families could use and decorate themselves over the long winter. Sure, most people were self sufficient and made some of the furniture themselves. Probably the most important pieces, leaving the utilitarian for the outside contractor, but I won’t guarantee that.

My point is that sometimes, you need to put up that advertisement for a person to do something for you. Sure, you are a capable person, and can probably do a decent job with enough time, but should you be expected to learn every skill in the book? If you don’t like Federal furniture, should you be required to learn string inlay? If you don’t like Chippendale pieces, should you be required to learn how to carve intricate designs? If you don’t like wood, should you be required to know anything about it?

I say no. I say that sometimes, paying someone to do something for you is not just a convenience but a necessity. What your job becomes is determining the value of this job (to you), the design of the job, the function of the job, and what level of control you will have over it. If you have to sign off on every thing (micromanaging), you have just become an employer and assumed responsibility and risk over the project. If you say “it must fit this space, this budget, and look like this material,” you have become a contractor and consumer, and leave the work to the expert.

And that is the biggest and best reason you shouldn’t do it yourself: let an expert teach you a thing or two. Good ones won’t mind, as long as you are being reasonable and respectful. So you might visit their shop and watch the process for a few minutes, but don’t hover. You wouldn’t want them to say you’re installing it wrong, or using it in a manner they didn’t intend. They have a vision, too. But it’s your vision that is the final director.


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