Good Shop Practice #2: Read the Manual.

It is so tempting to dive in.  All those pert, shiny bolts to be turned and coy covers to remove.  The interfaces of most consumer products today are so well designed that user’s manuals are superfluous, making the temptation to play with the machine even greater.  Experienced mechanics are the most prone to this temptation, particularly with maintenance operations that we have done many times.  But for new and experienced mechanics alike, the step of reading through the shop manual is a vital step of training or re-training, respectively.  In addition to providing specific tolerance, quantities, and procedures, a good shop manual give you insight into the designer’s intent.  Very little on your machine is superfluous, and understanding its why is the only way to understand its how.  Good shop manuals are real pleasure reading.

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Good Shop Practice #1: Slow Down

The mode of our world is haste and chaos. In your workshop, proceed with deliberate care, especially when you are learning. With time, an easy swiftness will develop naturally, but trying to work too fast will lead to error, frustration, and broken parts. Be aware and think about each nut you remove, where you put things down, each unique configuration of parts. Measure your steps. For each operation you do to your machine, take a second to put yourself in the right position to reach, see, and get the right grip and leverage. This thoughtful pace will increase your enjoyment of your time in the shop and help create a separation between the shop and the outside world of mindless hurrying.