I draw inspiration for these posts from a number of sources that have little or nothing to do with railroad modeling. One such source is a blog written by woodworker Doug Stowe called Wisdom of The Hands. As a full time woodworker and teacher of woodworking, Mr Stowe knows a few things about how we learn by using our hands to craft and build things. While I’ve only just begun to explore his writings, I’ve already found a lot of practical applications to our craft of model building.

This particular post has much to offer. In it he reviews a thoughtful series of questions a teacher might use to gauge a student’s progress. I think the application to our work is self evident.

I make no pretense to being a skilled model builder. I have a great deal to learn as I’ve just started to take my time at the bench seriously. In that light, I present this photo of one of my recent projects with my observations about the work.

Photo of box car kit bash with my assessment of the work that needs improvement

Some may think I’m being too hard with my assessment of this model. I take the opposite view that in being honest about my lack of attention to these details, I’m acknowledging that I have room to improve and that I’m capable of doing so. As Mr Stowe suggests in his post, this is an act of self-respect (…is his work carried on that self-respect is developed rather than vanity?)

I have little patience for the fawning comments people offer on many blogs and forums when someone posts their work.

WOW!
That’s AWESOME!!!
Fantastic!

Comments like that may stroke the ego but do nothing to help the modeler grow. Genuine constructive criticism is rare and hard to give. Few, myself included, know how to give it in ways that actually help the recipient. My only intention in posting that merciless photo is to help you understand the ways this craft can add to your life beyond the banal idea of how much fun it is.

I’m guilty of romanticizing craftsmanship and finescale modeling, adding fuel to the misplaced idea that such work is reserved for a chosen few. Nothing could be further from the truth. Such work is within the reach of anyone willing to make the effort to understand the skills involved. As greater numbers of modelers become dependent on the skills of Chinese factory workers rather than their own, our craft becomes less relevant and weaker.

Regards,
Mike