random #9: Just having one of those projects...

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Blog entry by Gary Fixler posted 03-16-2009 10:07 AM 1704 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 8: Square trees - how convenient! Part 9 of random series Part 10: Hooray for windy days in LA »

I’m building a little rack system currently, and I just keep failing miserably. I wanted to do something a little nicer than usual, so I made some 1/4” walnut pegs, and was planning to face the front edges of the rack with 1/8” walnut strips, and drill and peg through that with lighter wood that matches the plywood of the sides and shelves. To hold the shelves in, I’d drive pegs through from the outside, walnut pegs through ply sides, the inverse of the fronts. For whatever reasons – cost savings, space savings, ‘coolness’ factor, I went with very thin plywood. Not only did I keep screwing up measurements and cutting things wrong, causing me to have to change the shapes in the plans in ways I didn’t like as much, but eventually the thinness of the ply caught up with me, as clamps were bending it all over the place, and pegs were just smashing through the side walls of the shelves, even after using Rockler’s pro doweling jig. Wrong selection of materials, and lots of dumb mistakes.

In part 2, I stopped by my local plywood shop, and got 1 each of 3/4” and 1/2” baltic birch ply in 5’x5’, having them cut it to 30”x30” panels so I could work with it more easily, and fit it in my hatchback (on laughing :). The rack walls are about 24”x24”. I realized upping it to 27” would take care of the profiles of the shelving, and still leave me 3 8” tall shelf sections, so I fixed my plans, and promptly screwed up again, cutting all of the panels to 24”x24” before I realized what I was doing.

In part 3, I put those panels back in my wood storage shed, and prepared to wait until Monday to go get another piece of the baltic birch ply (almost $60… sigh). As I did so, I noticed I had 5 2’x4’ “handi-panel” sheets of 3/4” ply – 2 construction – though nice – and the others regular birch ply with okay faces. I decided to just use those. I cut out 24”x27” panels this time, then as I cut in the stair-step shapes I needed, I realized the panels, unlike the baltic birch ply, were way out of true. I had carefully checked the baltics, and they were dead-on 90° – impressive – but these were crap Home Depot grade boards, with something like 3°-4° angles at the corners. Also, the rough edges made me trim my one 24” dimension down to 23 3/4”, sort of messing my design up a bit.

In part 4, I’ve decided to go tomorrow to get another baltic birch board, and just carefully do it the right way this time. I’ve had lots of practice at it now. I can still use the 8 ruined boards and their many cutoffs, but it’ll be awhile before I find a use for this many small pieces of plywood, especially small pieces of 3/4” ply. They’d make for some pretty beefy little boxes ;)

Ever have a project like this? I feel like as I age, I’m descending into madness. I measure and check more than twice for each cut, but nothing saves you from just having the wrong idea in your head. I checked that 24” measurement 3x, but it should have been 27”. sigh

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

5 comments so far

View gizmodyne's profile


1785 posts in 5424 days

#1 posted 03-16-2009 03:25 PM

About a billion times.

I have a theory on this for myself.

Whenever I write out a plan of procedure (list of steps to take) and have a measured drawing… success.

Whenever I work without my list or plans… often failure.

I am the master of over jointing and planing boards.

-- -John "Do I have to keep typing a smiley? Just assume it's a joke."

View Gary's profile


9425 posts in 4767 days

#2 posted 03-16-2009 10:39 PM

Gary, I have two of those projects in my shop just lying there. One is two years old. Their purpose in life is to make me remember. Regretfully, they don’t always work.

-- Gary, DeKalb Texas only 4 miles from the mill

View Shotgundad's profile


4 posts in 4693 days

#3 posted 03-16-2009 10:40 PM

I feel your pain. I am still doing it on my current project which is just a kitchen garbage can “holder” for my wife. I originally was just going to hinge the front to tilt out the front. Then I decided why not use a dowel and support for the tilt out door. Of course this raised the base of the trash can support to allow for clearance which meant there was now not enough clearance for the top when the can was inside….sigh. Drew my plans and as always measured 50,345,872 times but when I started to deviate from my plan that is when I ran into trouble. I hate to say it but gizmo is right. Unfortunately I am too hard headed to just follow plans…even my own. Hang in there Gary, those scraps will come in handy someday.

-- Brian

View clieb91's profile


4264 posts in 5269 days

#4 posted 03-16-2009 10:45 PM

Been there done that.. recently. I hate it when the wood is shorter then the size I was supposed to have marked and cut it at. :)


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View Gary Fixler's profile

Gary Fixler

1001 posts in 4716 days

#5 posted 03-17-2009 04:28 AM

Misery loves company. Thanks, guys, for the solidarity. It cheered me up, and I have a bit of renewed energy now. Right now, as the sun sets, it’s time to cut a few rafters and see if I can’t get something accomplished today.

-- Gary, Los Angeles, video game animator

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