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12 Principles of the Master Craftsman

Updated: Mar 9

The following is a list and short description of the 12 Principles that make Master Craftsmen masters of their trade. Master these 12 principles, and you can master any trade.

  1. Clean

  2. Organized

  3. Careful

  4. Safe

  5. Methodical

  6. Patient

  7. Calm

  8. Accurate

  9. Efficient

  10. Detail Oriented

  11. Knowledge

  12. Leverage


Contrary to the belief that constantly cleaning will slow you down, the reality is, not cleaning often enough will slow you down more. Not to mention, it will ruin the quality of your work. A messy work site is full of tiny little frustrations and things always getting in your way. This causes you to become emotional, and an emotional mind can't think clearly or calmly or operate peacefully or solve problems. In order to achieve high quality results, you need to work clean. The cleaner you work, the higher the quality of results you will achieve, and the more your customers or employers will appreciate you.


Being disorganized is the biggest time waster in Craftsmanship. If you have to spend 10 minutes every time you need to look for a tool or part because you weren't organized about it in the first place you end up spending about as much time working as you do looking for tools. Keep you tools and materials where they belong all the time, and you'll never have to spend time looking for them. They will always be where you expect them to be. This will also reduce the amount of stress you feel while working, leading to higher quality results.


Remodeling always involves working in and around pre-existing structures that you do not want to disturb while working. Demolition should not be violent, but more of a gentle deconstruction. Treat everything as though its irreplaceable. While many things are, it is never preferable to assume that it should be replaced just to sacrifice being careful. It is always better to get everything done right the first time so it doesn't have to be done again. Or worse, so that more work doesn't have to be done that otherwise never would have needed to be done.


There are many dangers in Remodeling. Dust can cause breathing problems. Debris can get in your eyes and cause damage. Any number of tools can seriously injure or kill someone. If you are not building properly, structures can collapse and harm or kill someone. OSHA regulations exist for a reason. Lead and Asbestos certifications exist for a reason. Heavy machinery certifications exist for a reason. If you want to survive your work and help everyone around you survive and thrive, always follow all safety regulations and never do any work you are not properly certified for.


If you want to achieve high quality results in a reasonable amount of time you can't just randomly go about your work. You have to work in a methodical fashion such as left to right, top to bottom. There is a proper Order of Operations (Triple "O") to everything. If you attempt to work outside the proper order of operations, you will either end up doing work that doesn't need to be done, or you will end up having to redo your work. Either way, you are wasting time and killing your quality when you are not working methodically.


Patience is key to remodeling. There are a million and one tiny little frustrations we have to deal with every day in our job. We need to remember that between the nails and screws that don't want to work right, and between the tools and materials that give us trouble sometimes, we are the only ones that have a brain. The nails and screws and tools and materials are not choosing to be difficult, it is us who need to choose to remain patient when things get difficult. If you don't, you will only harm the quality of your results.


Remodeling always presents us with complex problems that need to be solved in a timely fashion to complete our projects. Because these problems have to be resolved quickly, they tend to make us anxious, or worse, angry. But the mind cannot solve problems when it is anxious or angry. You have to learn to remain calm under all such circumstances if you plan to have any hope of solving these problems.


Accuracy may sound simple, but it's not always easy. After all, if something is too perfect it won't fit right. If it's not perfect enough, it won't fit at all. So remember the saying, "Perfect isn't good, but good is perfect." You can always take more off, but can't put more back on. It's better to measure 5 times and make 10 different cuts to get your piece right than it is to try and get it perfect the first time. Also remember that accuracy doesn't always depend on a tape measure. There are other ways to be accurate. A tape measure should only be used when it absolutely needs to be used.


You don't have to work hard to work fast, you have to work smart. It's good to be a hard worker, but it's better to work in balance between hard and smart. It's important to remain focused and keep working, but it's also important to know when, where and how you can get more work done with less effort and time, while achieving the same level of quality. The more efficient you become, the faster you will be able to achieve higher quality results, and the more money you will eventually be able to make.

Detail Oriented

Remodeling involves a lot of details. If you only focus on what is obvious while working, then you will likely end up having to redo a lot of your work, or spend a lot of extra time on the finishing steps to make things work right in the end. If you pay attention to every detail from the very beginning, you will achieve a higher quality result with less time and effort by the end of the job. If you are not a detail oriented person, and you cannot seem to improve upon this skill, remodeling may not be the right job for you.


We live in a fast paced world that is always changing now. While 90% of the information we need to know has been the same for thousands of years, there is an increasingly large amount of information that is constantly being updated with new tools, new products, new materials, new methods, and better techniques. If we don't stay on top of all the new information on a regular basis, someone else will eventually replace us. Knowledge and skill are what make us valuable and irreplaceable. If you don't care to continuously learn and improve, then this isn't the career for you.


Leverage is what makes difficult things become easy, such as using a fulcrum and a rod, or a rope and pulley to lift heavy objects. Leverage is using the right tool for the right job. Leverage is applying knowledge to a situation. Leverage is taking advantage of the knowledge, skills and abilities of others to accomplish a task. Leverage is being resourceful enough to find ways and means of making things when work when everything seems impossible. Leverage is what makes our jobs a little bit easier, a little less frustrating, and a bit more possible. Use it whenever and however you can.

Need a contractor who focuses on quality craftmanship? Give us a call today to schedule your consultation! 860-817-7191

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