Make something in real life!

Sometimes I worry that my creativity is stuck in the digital world. So many of my creations (videospodcasts, etc.) are digital. I think about the characters in dystopian novels and movies where society is thrusted backwards to a world without electricity. The lights go out, and all their creations are trapped forever inside a dead iPhone.

Revolution – Season 1, Episode 3

Inspired by some of my favorite woodworking Youtubers (here and here), I recently purchased a new tool that will hopefully diversify my creations beyond bits and bytes.

Dewalt table saw (DW745)

Of course, I’m not looking to leave digital creations behind for good. Instead, I’m seeking out ways that digital and physical creations can work together. For example, I needed a workbench for my new saw. Rather than just cutting away (which would probably result in wasted time and lumber), I designed a digital version of the workbench first.

My workbench in SketchUp (download the model)

After looking at other plans online and watching several SketchUp for Woodworkers tutorials, I was able to iterate until my design met my specific needs. Before a single cut was made, I knew every corner of my workbench because I got to know it in the digital space first. When it came time to build the real thing, I was able to move much more quickly and confidently.

I was filled with enormous amounts of pride after I finished making my workbench. It certainly isn’t one of the best workbenches out their but this one is definitely mine. The feeling of touching something physical is incredibly rewarding – especially when you made it yourself.

I’m starting to finally understand why more people are getting into vinyl and why my daughter has been begging us for an instant film camera (think Polaroid). Sites like Facebook want to make the world more connected but let’s not overlook our connections with the physical world.

So, go print out some family photos, buy a paper map for your next road trip, find those old cassette tapes from high school – take a break from the digital world and make something in real life. You’ll thank yourself for it.