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Blog entry by ajw1978 posted 07-17-2014 07:14 AM 1923 reads 0 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I’d been meaning to start posting blog entries since I joined LJ last week but since I write around 15,000 words a day to start with, I’ve been content just posting pictures of the crap I’ve cobbled together (notice I didn’t say “built” or any other verb that would suggest craftsmanship).

So, while my originally-intended introduction entry is pretty much on my bio, I’m just going to spew forth here a little bit in the hope of venting some frustration.

Long story short: with baseball on hiatus for a few glorious days and mother nature deciding she’s done messing with the good people of Wisconsin, I set up my “shop” out on the deck (live in a condo with a disgustingly large patio … my only work space). The goal today was to build a box for my father’s belated Father’s Day present. I had ordered him – a real woodworker – a custom branding iron and decided I would put my “skills” and tools to use and craft a simple little box for it.

The idea seemed easy enough. I had a five-foot oak board in my closet and thought it would be perfect. Was going to go with peg dowels to assemble it and add a nice lid with some little hinges.

Easy, right? Wrong. Miters/angles that don’t line up. Cross cuts that seem uneven. Router chunking up, stalling, chipping, blah blah blah.

Twelve hours later, I’ve got a ShopVac full of sawdust, a bucket of chunks and a pile of scrap lumber.

I suppose all this just comes with the territory. Just because you buy a whole bunch of tools doesn’t mean you automatically obtain the knowledge to use them. Trial and error; practice makes perfect; learn from mistakes, etc etc etc.

Dad’s just getting the brand, sans-box. But I plan on spending the rest of my All-Star break turning that pile of scrap into more sawdust: practice makes perfect.

Rant complete.

So yeah, there have been some vulgarities spewing forth today.

-- May the good Lord help me if I ever actually have a shop, garage or basement.

8 comments so far

View NiteWalker's profile


2741 posts in 3551 days

#1 posted 07-17-2014 07:51 AM

No one starts at the top. :-)
Your mistakes are valuable; learn from them. Figure out what went wrong, and what you can do to improve. It usually takes several cycles of try, fail, try again, fail again, etc before you get it down. Don’t lose patience, don’t rush, stay calm and have fun. :-)

-- He who dies with the most tools... dies with the emptiest wallet.

View DIYaholic's profile


19921 posts in 3650 days

#2 posted 07-17-2014 10:35 AM

First off…. Welcome to LJs….

No mistakes made, just learning opportunities and the discovery of what does not work!!!
Once you eliminate all the things that don’t/won’t work…..

-- Randy-- I may not be good...but I am slow! If good things come to those who wait.... Why is procrastination a bad thing?

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4283 days

#3 posted 07-17-2014 03:33 PM

If at first you don’t succeed…well, you are just like the rest of us woodworkers. If I could sell every project I ever messed up I would be rich…

View ajw1978's profile


165 posts in 2396 days

#4 posted 07-17-2014 05:22 PM

Thanks, Gents. A night of sleep has me in a significantly better mood. Built the first of six screen boxes for my windows with slightly better success. Miters are still a pain in my butt, but have enough leftovers where I’m just going to spend a few hours cutting angles and tinkering with the settings on my saw.

Also, DIYaholic … I love me some Mr. Met.

-- May the good Lord help me if I ever actually have a shop, garage or basement.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30585 posts in 3313 days

#5 posted 07-17-2014 06:30 PM

Welcome to Lumberjocks

we only learn from mistakes if we recognize them as mistakes and then learn how to avoid them. You are on the right track, keep moving forward.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1523 posts in 5099 days

#6 posted 07-17-2014 11:31 PM

As someone who’s built my shop around handheld tools: Yeah, miters are hard, it’s hard to be precise (and even harder to be accurate, and it helps to understand how those two things are different), and even if you have amazing tools, learning the procedures to use them well is harder than we think.

But even as we generate sawdust, we learn…

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View Mean_Dean's profile


7057 posts in 4122 days

#7 posted 07-18-2014 12:17 AM

If I can offer a suggestion for your miters: try a digital angle gauge. Takes the guesswork out of trying to get nice tight miters. I’ve been using one for about 6 months now, and my miters have been dead-on, the first time, every time so far.

-- Dean -- "Don't give up the ship -- fight her 'till she sinks!" Capt James Lawrence USN

View ajw1978's profile


165 posts in 2396 days

#8 posted 07-18-2014 04:14 AM

Thanks to all for the encouragement and suggestions. The person whom I’d normally turn to for advice in these situations … well, he’s getting the fruits of my labors.

I took today “off” (back to work…) but grabbed some new “good” boards, sketched out a plan – simplified, way simplified – and am going to get back at it tomorrow.

-- May the good Lord help me if I ever actually have a shop, garage or basement.

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