Author Topic: Thank you for helping me with my project, but please don't take it over!  (Read 2536 times)

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TootsNYC

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My FIL and I have bonded in the past over projects--my MIL told me he was really into the idea of helping me spray-paint something in his garage (and he put in a lot of effort setting up a spray booth using plastic sheeting, etc.

He's been working in copper since his retirement, and he made me (at my request, and following part of my dimensions and tastes) a stand for my plant. In the course of that, I was reminded again that when someone puts their creativity into something, they often don't want to follow your directions quite the way that someone making it "for hire" does. They invest themselves and their tastes.

So when FIL decided he wanted to make us a chandelier for our DR table, I decided that I'd just not get too emotionally involved in what it looks like. He was making it, it was his gift, and I'd go along with what he did--it would be much more pleasant.

So now to the situation w/ the question: I want to build something for my DD's dorm room; I've drawn it out, researched hardware, etc.; but I don't have a saw. FIL has a table saw, and I've thought maybe he'd help me cut the lumber.

So I showed him my diagram, etc., and when we were talking about the bookcase, he said, "You could put copper pipes for the sides." And I said, "I don't want books to fall out." And he said, "No, I would space them very tight." But I don't really want his design; I want my own. (My design would be calmer and more uniform--plus it's intended to pack w/ books or stuff, and it would be visually loud. And, I've just now realized, my design would let us put adjustable shelf standards; his wouldn't necessarily. But mostly, it's my bookshelf, my gift, and I want to do it my way.)

Then a little later we were talking about attaching the two parts, and he said, "when i make it, it will be like a tray." and I said, "No, wait, I am making this--you are helping me. This is my plan--don't try to take it over."

He got quiet--I was afraid I'd hurt his feelings. The convo in the room moved on, and we both sort of dropped it (though he took the diagram with him).

So now I don't know what to do--I don't want this to be a truly "joint" project--I really am not interested in having him change my design. Part of why I want to make this is for the fun of seeing if my ideas work out. Do I just get my lumber cut somewhere else?  Do I wait and see if he brings it up? Do I ask him if he'd be willing to help me with cutting the lumber, and gently say, "I'm excited about doing this using my plans. Would you be willing to follow them, and not change them"?

(I have another project I'd love to have his help with, and I don't care much about anything except having it not waste space.)

My FIL has occasionally done the "Grandma, it's her plans, don't push your ideas or plans on them" thing--but not always.

Any wisdom and advice?

sourwolf

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Re: Thank you for helping me with my project, but please don't take it over!
« Reply #1 on: September 16, 2012, 11:33:42 PM »
Why don't you just say what you wrote here? You're really excited to work on this project and see how YOUR ideas turn out but you have another project you would love to work on together?  He'd probably be more willing to let it go (so to speak) if he knew there was another one waiting in the wings.

Raintree

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Re: Thank you for helping me with my project, but please don't take it over!
« Reply #2 on: September 16, 2012, 11:59:34 PM »
Either get someone else to cut the lumber to save yourself a lot of angst, or say, "I was hoping you'd just cut the lumber. I really want to design this one myself as it's part of the fun for me." If he can't accept that, then don't involve him at all, ie get someone else to help you.

O'Dell

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Re: Thank you for helping me with my project, but please don't take it over!
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2012, 08:43:46 AM »
I've collaborated with my FIL on projects. He has an awesome woodworking shop. I've also asked other  craftsmen (professional and amateur) to use their tools or shops for bits and pieces of projects.

Since you are talking about a joint project, would you be willing to learn how to use the saw and make the cuts yourself? That's generally how I've gone about it...asking to use the tools myself with a lesson (usually a quick refresher) on how to do it.

You can explain what you told us as you see fit, but you'll still need to use some clear and direct reminders along the way. In situations like this, I'm blunt. "I can do it" or "Oh let me!" as I reach for the drill or move to use the saw. Suggestions get a thoughtful Hmmm...then "I don't want that. I want this."

You might also point out that you don't want one material on too many furnishings in your home. I've collaborated with a couple of artists that work in metal and once they get going on what they *could* do, I point out that I don't want the metal to take over. Sometimes you have to remind them of the bigger picture.
Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.
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TootsNYC

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Re: Thank you for helping me with my project, but please don't take it over!
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2012, 09:50:35 AM »
I didn't really think about it as a "joint project"--I *did* think about it as asking him to help me with cutting the boards. And I'm pretty sure I said, "Would you help me with cutting the wood?"

But of course, he's creative, this is something he would also do, and he just sort of got going.

I guess I'm wondering if it was rude to say, "This is my project, I want to do it my way." Or if I could continue to say something like that. Or whether, since I've asked for his help and involved him, I need to "make room" for him to contribute in a more creative way.

JenJay

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Re: Thank you for helping me with my project, but please don't take it over!
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2012, 10:19:49 AM »
If he's going to respect your boundary on this then he "got it" when you made the comment about him not taking over. I would contact him to ask when would be a good time to bring over the lumber and instead of asking him to cut it for you (in case he's feeling creative and "helpful") maybe ask if he'll teach you how to cut it? That way you retain control of the cuts and he feels helpful.

I don't think you need to invite him to give his input on the design just because you're asking for his help. If he gets uptight about it you could remind him how, when he was making your chandelier, you gave him complete creative control because it was his gift to you, just as the bookcase is your gift to DD. it's not about excluding him (or anyone else), it's about rolling up your sleeves and making something for your girl! He should be able to appreciate that.

VorFemme

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Re: Thank you for helping me with my project, but please don't take it over!
« Reply #6 on: September 17, 2012, 11:02:46 AM »
Ask for a couple of copper book ends - but tell him that you want the bookcase to be wood so you can make adkjustable shelves - in case you need to add an extra shelf or two later on.

But bookends - possibly scraps of the wood trimmed with copper - coulld look really cool.....

(((swatting Snarky & Evil down a bit - they like to design things - they just expect ME to do the actual work)))
Let sleeping dragons be.......morning breath......need I say more?

O'Dell

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Re: Thank you for helping me with my project, but please don't take it over!
« Reply #7 on: September 17, 2012, 11:07:25 AM »
I didn't really think about it as a "joint project"--I *did* think about it as asking him to help me with cutting the boards. And I'm pretty sure I said, "Would you help me with cutting the wood?"

But of course, he's creative, this is something he would also do, and he just sort of got going.

I guess I'm wondering if it was rude to say, "This is my project, I want to do it my way." Or if I could continue to say something like that. Or whether, since I've asked for his help and involved him, I need to "make room" for him to contribute in a more creative way.

Sorry...got that "joint project" stuck in my head.

And no I don't think you need to make room for him. And you weren't rude to say "This is my project" but the "don't try to take it over" seems a bit harsh and accusatory. You could have left that out. I tend toward saying "I don't want you to make it. I want to make it. I want to do it myself." I assume that it's a communication problem and not an effort on the other person's to take over.

Don't you think he got the message when you told him that? I would think he did since he's said it to others. Your best bet is to ask if he's still willing to help and if he says yes discuss plans. I would think that if you go elsewhere now, he'll be more hurt.

IME, it's best to be quite specific when asking for help in this situation. Asking for "help" too often is interpreted as "do this for me". So asking for help cutting the wood is better as "I'd like to use your saw to cut some wood. Can you show me how and maybe watch over me while I get used to it?"

Since he would have a better idea of exactly what you want, maybe he'd be less likely to volunteer what you don't want.
Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.
Walt Whitman

Kaypeep

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Re: Thank you for helping me with my project, but please don't take it over!
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2012, 01:44:55 PM »
The only words you said that I think were rude were "Don't try to take this over."  You're implying he was trying to do that, when he probably just saw it as a suggestion.  I think you should apologize for saying that to him, I think that's what probably hurt his feelings.  Perhaps go to him and say "I'm sorry I responded so defensively to your suggestions about the bookcase.  I have my heart set on the design I came up with for DD, and really I was just looking for some help with the tactical parts like cutting the wood, not the design elements. You do great work, but I really wanted this piece to be just mine and when you made suggestions I overreacted.  I hope you can forgive me for that."