Maybe you know the drill yourself.
You sit in a couch an read a woodworking magazine. Not just to get inspired, cause that would be fine. But somehow you more or less imagine that it is you doing the build. And boy I know that I am efficient in those projects.
A tool chest, 20 minutes maximum. A workbench, maybe 25 minutes, but that includes a cup of tea etc. In my mind I can build as fast as I can read the magazine. Actually after reading the articles a couple of times I don't even have to read the fine print anymore. I just look at the pictures and maybe read the text accompanying them.
One of the really nice thing about building this way is that there are never any surprises such as reversing grain, knots, running out of stock, wood movement, bad finishing, overcutting lines, tear out, bad glue ups, twisted stock or dull tools.
Actually these builds are probably my best ones. They never go wrong and if they by some stroke of bad luck should, fixing them would be a piece of cake.
I can't quite remember the imaginary number if times that I have built the Roy Underhill joiners tool chest. But I have built it for real once, and it was definitely not as fast as the couch builds.
The same thing goes with a chimney cupboard.
Bob Roziaeski built a really nice version for Popular Woodworking some years back. And I have built it at least 10 times. It is such a pleasant project. It is guaranteed to turn out perfect every single time. And even the finish can't go wrong. A nice homemade yellow ochre coloured paint based on BLO. covers the perfectly hand planed boards in a jiffy. Drying is instantaneously. The dark paste wax is applied and buffed off, and after mounting the hardware without the screwdriver ever slipping, the project is once again complete.
In a way - it is very satisfying to build like that. There isn't a project that you can't handle, and the result is perfect every single time.
In another way - building projects that way isn't satisfying at all. Once you look up from the magazine, they vanish into thin air. There isn't even the nice smell of freshly planed wood from your shirt. Those projects also tend to be difficult to show to friends and family.
The problem is that if you leave the success zone of the couch, and head into the real shop, maybe you will encounter difficulties. Perhaps even set backs. You might find that you are not quite as skilled as you thought you were. And if the project was described as something to be done in "a weekends time in the shop" You had better be quicker than that because if not.. It must mean that you are not as skilled as you were in the couch.
The harsh reality of my own limitations and mediocre skills always strike me full force when returning home from the ship.
For 5 weeks I have thrived as a very successful couch builder, and then suddenly I am just my own regular me in a workshop filled with all kinds of annoying problems that the professionals never seem to have.
Like the earlier mentioned reversing grain, knots, running out of stock, wood movement, bad finishing, overcutting lines, tear out, bad glue ups, twisted stock or dull tools.
A strange thing is that most people seem to like the stuff that I build in the real world better than what I build in the couch. So perhaps I should focus more on getting into the actual shop and stop couch building.