ICDT: My View

For those of you who aren’t aware of this acronym, ICDT stands for “I Can Do That” ,articles that teach readers how to build projects with a basic set of tools and materials from the big-box stores. This column has been in every issue of Popular Woodworking (PW) since June 2006. It’s a column, I must admit, that I never read before I started working here. I thought it was beneath my woodworking abilities (for beginners only) and that the time spent reading it would never be recouped.

I would thumb the pages and wonder why the magazine wasn’t chock-full of projects that required readers to push the limits of their skills (like those from that other magazine) , projects that paid homage to the blessed dovetail joint, thrived on mortise and tenons and would make me dig deep into my bag of tricks.

Then I joined the PW staff and I had to read the column , they were paying me to do so (I know, I still can’t believe I get paid to do this job!).

Well, put down the carving tools, back away from the dovetail saw and stop chopping that mortise. I found a truth in woodworking and I’m about to share it with you.

You do not have to make every piece that comes from your shop a monument , a museum quality selection that’ll be here in 200 years. There are times when we need to look at simpler projects with basic construction processes. Relax. Complete a project that builds confidence or just soothes the stress that comes from constant, high-end work.

Just as I joined the magazine, I also agreed to build four projects for an ICDT book that will be out in October, 2007. I built a coffee table, a game table, a small hanging cupboard and a chair. Others built a number of pieces too. Each one follows the “rules” explained in the ICDT Manual (a free download at ICanDoThatExtras.com).

As I finished each piece, I stepped back and realized just how much enjoyment I received from the project. I was able to let the creative side of my brain go to work and let the analytical side rest. No fancy joinery; the pocket screw covers that area. No milling lumber; the stores took care of that. I needed simply to cut pieces to length and occasionally rip something, then assemble and finish the project.

I found that getting into simple projects made woodworking even more fun. Getting back to my roots was refreshing. And the projects look great, if I do say so myself. I’d certainly rather build a set of ICDT chairs for my house than purchase machine-manufactured chairs offered by a huge conglomerate.

So, for those of you think like I did: Jump down from that high horse and look into this idea. For those of you just starting out in woodworking: Welcome. As you improve your skills and move up in project difficulty, remember your roots. And remember, how fun and satisfying ICDT projects can be.

I’m not the only one to discover this. The ICDT idea is growing (as you can tell from the upcoming book) and by summer’s end there will be a web site dedicated to the I Can Do That philosophy. I expect this to grow and I’m all for it.

, Glen Huey