The Errors of Our Ways

To err is human. Now there’s a bromide that could have been written by a woodworker—it’s certainly true in my shop.

And there are many others we’ve adopted. Did you see our recent bromide contest in the eZine, or the many responses that followed from it? It’s funny how many of them have to do with coping with those inevitable, frustrating and sometimes costly mistakes we all make at one time or another.

When it comes to making mistakes, I think the odds are just plain against us. Think about it: practically every project has dozens of steps required to get a pile lumber tamed into something worth finishing. Heck, even cutting a dado involves at least four “sub” steps: 1) Marking the correct location; 2) Stacking the dado accurately; 3) Dialing in the correct blade height; 4) Aligning the blade with the dado layout…and finally, once everything else is ready, making the cut.

Now, multiply this one saw setup by all of the other operations necessary to cut a set of parts for a drawer, a cabinet carcass or what have you. It’s any wonder we goof stuff up now and again! Throw a moment’s lapse of concentration into the mix and there you go: Measure even twice, daydream for a nanosecond…and still cut something wrong!

So, now I’ve rationalized mistake-making sufficiently. They happen to all of us. Here’s what I’m more interested in learning from you: What is one of your most common mistakes when building projects? Or, maybe there’s a flub you only made once, but it was such a doozy that it’s still burned into your memory bank today.

I’ll start, because of course this has happened to me (ahem, more than once):

Cutting two parts that match exactly when they’re supposed to be mirror opposites. I get them perfectly sized, but they’re still perfectly wrong. Two left sides just don’t make a right.

Can you relate? Share one of your nagging mistakes here. Don’t be shy…because of course, we’ve ALL been there. Hope to hear from you.

Catch you in the shop,

Chris Marshall, Field Editor

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About Chris Marshall

Chris Marshall has been writing for Woodworker's Journal as a contributing editor and field editor since 2001. Prior to that, he spent five years developing home improvement and woodworking books. He's written five of them and has served as a contributing writer on many more. A wood and tool junkie since childhood, Chris thoroughly enjoys building projects and reviewing woodworking tools for the Journal. When he's not assembling new machinery, sawing parts, taking photos or crunching text for an upcoming story, he enjoys spending time with his family and a houseful of pets at their home in rural Ohio.

3 thoughts on “The Errors of Our Ways

  1. I’ll kick off with one I keep on repeating for some reason. Marking up a line in the same spot on several pieces of timber knowing I have to drill to the left or right of the line and completely stuffing it up by drilling on the wrong. I know the fix is simple but I still seem to do it often enough to be annoying.

  2. Re; Making scarfs. The marine craftsman rule of thumb was a 6 to 1 ratio.
    Tht is for every inch of thickness the scarf should be 6 inches long.
    Also a mouldmaker friend once ran tests using many different ahesives soaked some moulds. The results were, unless the mould would be subjected to boiling water,
    common white glue worked best.

  3. I AM GUILTY PUSHING TO HARD ON THE LUMBER I AM CUTTING AGAINST THE FENCE WHAT HAPPENS ON THE SAW TABLE IS I NEVER GET A STRAIGHT LINE CUT PLUS IT IS DANGEROUS YOUR PUSH STICK MAY SLIP WITH TO MUCH PRESSURE. i KNOW NOT TO DO IT BUT I HAVE TO REMIND MYSELF OVER AND OVER. THIS MISTAKE IS COSTLY HAVING TO BUY MORE LUMBER. THE LANGUAGE GETS PRETTY ROUGH SOME TIMES IN MY SHOP

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