Sewing Table #6: Stupid Stuff and Serendipitous Solutions

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Blog entry by Blake posted 06-18-2008 02:41 AM 2401 reads 0 times favorited 22 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Tapers and Curves Part 6 of Sewing Table series Part 7: Assembly at Last »

When I left off I was ready to glue up the apron and legs.

So in my excitement to see it take shape, I did a little last minute trimming of the tenons and one more dry fit, and then started assembling it with glue in sections.

Here’s the front:

And the back:

Then I dry fit the two sections together with the side aprons for the final glue up:

Which is when it occurred to me… was something missing? THE DRAWERS!!!

I forgot to cut the drawers out of the face of the front apron!

I panicked. I wasn’t even sure how I was going to cut the drawer fronts out of the piece, because I wanted to use the cut-outs as the drawer-fronts (so the grain is continuous). This means that I need a very small kerf. I guess this dilemma was what made me put this job off until later.

The glued-up section was way to awkward to put on the scrollsaw now. Well, lets start by drawing the lines and seeing where these drawers are gonna be.

I used a scrap from the apron arch to mimic the bottom line of the drawer:

Now that I had my lines, I needed straight, thin kerfs around those drawers. So what did I think to do? (I should not even be admitting to this!)

I figured I could take a cheap, dull, hobbiest handsaw and saw straight through the middle off one of the hardest woods I’ve ever worked with. Yea, that’ll work. (I hope nobody actually reads this blog.)

(Viewer discretion advised, some may be offended by the next picture…)

Well, as you can imagine, that didn’t work. (Shocking, huh?) During the next three hours I did not take pictures because I was so frustrated I forgot. Sorry.

I wrestled that stupidly awkward apron with legs attatched up onto the scrollsaw and cut the drawer fronts out and the result was not pretty. The edges were fairly ugly and the pilot holes I had to drill for the blade were certainly visible. I wasn’t too happy with myself.

But I finally popped those suckers out: (notice the saw mark on the first photo left over from the handsaw delusion)

I don’t think those photos show how bad and uneven those saw marks are. Take my word for it.

The Plan:

It’s all good, I’ve got a plan. After sleeping on it I decided to cut the drawer fronts down a hair until they are squared up and clean. Then I will rasp, file, plane and chisel the drawer holes until they are squared up too. This will leave a considerable gap after the waste is gone.

Then I plan to make a “bead” around the drawers to fill the gap. The bead will sit proud of the drawer front slightly and be rounded on both sides. It will look like I planned it the whole time (I promise!) So a new design detail was just born out of destiny, you could say.

The next order of business took over an hour of just staring at the half-assembled table and designing on my sketch pad. I had to do a lot of planning to figure out how the inside structural joinery would work around the dropped-down sewing machine recess.

Here’s what some of my drawings looked like:

I ran out of wood for these pieces (last night) so I picked up another board today. After all the careful planning this next section should go fairly quickly (I hope).

Total Project Time So Far: 23 1/2 hours

-- Happy woodworking!

22 comments so far

View Karson's profile


35197 posts in 4880 days

#1 posted 06-18-2008 03:05 AM

AH the AH Sh* time. Thats shucks ya know.

Good recovery I think. Isn’t it good for the soul to fess-up to screwing up. – Not.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View Jimthecarver's profile


1124 posts in 4265 days

#2 posted 06-18-2008 03:12 AM

These kind of trials makes us better woodworkers. It’s coming togather nicely, cant wait to see the finished piece.

-- Can't never could do anything, to try is to advance.

View teenagewoodworker's profile


2727 posts in 4248 days

#3 posted 06-18-2008 03:14 AM

looking good so far. i have those some moments where i look at it and say oh #*%&. like when on the sugar chest i cut the drawer fronts too short and didn’t have enough material for new ones. had to glue a strip of wood on the back of it to extend it. looks fine but i spent a good hour steaming around the shop wondering what to do. thanks for the post!

View bfd's profile


502 posts in 4287 days

#4 posted 06-18-2008 03:31 AM

I have been there before. Your solution to add a bead is ingenious. After the initial panic you realized that there is almost always a solution. In Lieu of a rasp/ file and plane you could use a router and a flush trim bit with a template to square up the opening. Then just chisel the corners square…just a thought.

View brianinpa's profile


1812 posts in 4203 days

#5 posted 06-18-2008 03:35 AM

Been there and done that before, and I am sure we are not the only one. The sign of a true craftsman/woman (I want to be PC) is his ability to cover up his/her mistooks, I mean mistakes.

-- Brian, Lebanon PA, If you aren’t having fun doing it, find something else to do.

View trifern's profile


8135 posts in 4247 days

#6 posted 06-18-2008 04:06 AM


Thanks for the update and being brutally honest. I do have to admit that some of my coolest ideas and design features came from fixing “mistakes.” I believe problem solving and creativity are synonymous. I am anxious to see what’s next.

-- My favorite piece is my last one, my best piece is my next one.

View Jeff's profile


1010 posts in 4574 days

#7 posted 06-18-2008 05:17 AM

I think the bead will be a nice element and add to the finished piece. Great recovery! What are you thinking for the bead? A darker species maybe?

-- Jeff, St. Paul, MN

View Betsy's profile


3392 posts in 4376 days

#8 posted 06-18-2008 05:27 AM

Woodworkers don’t make mistakes——we make variations.

I like your variation. Frustrating to deviate from the original plans—- but the possibilities for solutions are many and it sounds like you’ve come up with a good plan.

Can’t wait to see your progress.

-- "Our past judges our present." JFK - 1962; American Heritage Magazine

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4468 days

#9 posted 06-18-2008 07:46 AM

Happens all the time to me.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View Tony's profile


993 posts in 4510 days

#10 posted 06-18-2008 08:10 AM

Starting to read this blog, I was formulating possible sollutions to your problems, but then you answered each of the problems your self as I read on.

As Betsy said “Woodworkers don’t make mistakes——we make variations” so very true.

Keep up the good work, your doing a grand job.

-- Tony - All things are possible, just some things are more difficult than others! - SKYPE: Heron2005 (

View Dorje's profile


1763 posts in 4477 days

#11 posted 06-18-2008 09:00 AM

Fun post – the honesty and willingness to share in the ups and downs (and back ups) is great.

This sewing table is going to positively scream!

-- Dorje (pronounced "door-jay"), Seattle, WA

View Blake's profile


3443 posts in 4354 days

#12 posted 06-18-2008 09:45 AM

BFD: So simple… I hadn’t even thought of using a router and template. I guess I can do that now since I’ve got the extra room to work with. Perfect! I love it.

-- Happy woodworking!

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 4419 days

#13 posted 06-18-2008 11:41 AM

Excellent recovery, er … design modification. I’ve heard it said that mistakes make opportunities and looks like you took full advantage. Good work.

-- Working at Woodworking

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 4302 days

#14 posted 06-18-2008 12:09 PM

Blake thanks for sharing both the successes and set-backs on this project. We all have these type of moments and it would have been easy to simply omit the drawers but instead you turned the situation into a nice opportunity to add an interesting design element. Nice recovery.

Well done.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

View Mark Mazzo's profile

Mark Mazzo

352 posts in 4392 days

#15 posted 06-18-2008 02:51 PM

Hey Blake,

We’ve all been there and done this. No shame in making mistakes – we learn more from them than from successes. It’s how we solve the problems that is valuable.

Your design is very nice and I bet that the addition of the beading around the drawers will work very nicely.

Keep up the great work!

-- Mark, Webster New York, Visit my website at

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