Mistakes Were Made…

Rob Johnstone Photo

Context is an important qualifier. It frames our choices and responses in ways conscious and unconscious. Recently, I made a project for the December issue of the magazine. In one photo, I crosscut a 5″-wide board on a cabinet saw but did not use a stand-off block (to avoid potential binding and kickback). This caused many folks to speak out about the unsafe technique.

The context here is the saw I was using for the cut. It is a high-quality machine with heavy-duty trunnions to keep the arbor and blade aligned, a super-strong fence accurately aligned to the saw blade, a robust riving knife behind the blade, a substantial and strong aftermarket miter gauge and a piece of stock (trimmed square to the fence on the table saw) that was narrow, but not overly so.

My (somewhat self-serving) point here is that in the context of what I was doing, my woodworking lizard brain did not identify this cut as a dangerous technique – because it was not (in context).

Even so, I failed twice. First, by not taking the extra step to absolutely make the crosscut a safe one. And second, by publishing the photo. For those mistakes I offer a sincere apology and vow to do better in the future.

Rob Johnstone, Woodworker’s Journal

Milling Eastern White Pine

Pine lumber has been the backbone of the lumber industry for as long as there has been a lumber business. Our gang at Lumber Capital Log Yard mill some white pine for our education.

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