The Sawdust Chronicles Challenge #3: My First Incomplete Project

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Blog entry by Eric posted 05-23-2009 03:51 PM 1593 reads 0 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 2: Okay, uncambered smoothing plane. You got my attention. Part 3 of The Sawdust Chronicles Challenge series no next part

In my short time in this great craft, I’ve many times wanted to give up on a project. Sometimes the difficulties seem too great, or the things that go wrong seem unfixable. Yet I’ve always managed to carry on and finish.

Today I had my first shop time since before we moved (on May 13). I am far from set up at our new place, and I knew it would be a while before I was, so I had left all my woodworking stuff at the old place.

So I had about 2 hours of shop time, and planned to work on the Sawdust Chronicles desk organizer build challenge. If I had a shop full of power tools, I’d probably be half done! As it is, I got just far enough to realize that there’s no way I’ll be able to finish this thing in a week.

I set up shop in our kids’ former room, so I could make use of the A/C. Hey, climate control in my shop, this was a first! My first task was to fix my planing mess from the other week. And just like some of you said, it was a simple matter of evening the blade with the lateral arm. It all went smoothly. Pun intended.

Planing Fun

Getting most of my lumber smooth (planing and a bit of sanding), and then cutting the first four pieces I’d need, took about an hour. The next hour I worked on the dados into which the bottom two pieces would go. I was going to have two horizontal pieces to form the paper slot, and each of those would just fit into dados in the side pieces. Here you can see my initial knife lines to define the dado.

Groovy 1

Then I used a 1/8” chisel to hog out the waste. I tried deepening the lines with the knife, but in the end found it more effective to use my saw to try to cut to the depth of the dado. Then I had to do the same kind of thing to make the tongue for the paper slot pieces. Oh, if only I had a rabbet plane.

Groovy 2

It doesn’t look pretty, but it doesn’t really need to because I was going to have a horizontal piece dovetailed into the front to cover it up. The piece was to look decorative but would actually be removable, revealing a secret document compartment.

Alas, I think I’m going to have to give in on this particular project. If the contest had been held in any other month but May 2009, I’d probably have been able to do it. But right now with our unpacking and everything, a desk organizer [that we don’t really need] isn’t the highest priority right now.

I’m bummed, because I’m a finisher. But now I can at least start to set my mind running again on my workbench!

P.S. Yes, I’m aware that the Schwarz had just written about dados by hand. Believe it or not, I just read it this evening. I’m such a dork.

-- Eric at

12 comments so far

View Beginningwoodworker's profile


13345 posts in 5129 days

#1 posted 05-23-2009 04:23 PM

At least you is building, Eric.

View woodworm's profile


14477 posts in 5047 days

#2 posted 05-23-2009 04:39 PM

Keep doing it Eric. The crux of this project is the word “challenge”.

Sometime, I’m also easily get discouraged by minor thing – like the dog next door barking, the tight space, the heat and dust…etc etc etc.

-- masrol, kuala lumpur, MY.

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 4765 days

#3 posted 05-23-2009 04:58 PM

Finish it. If not for the contest, do it for your piece of mind. If I wouldn’t finish a project …whatever size…it would bug me for a long time.

View Splinterman's profile


23074 posts in 4817 days

#4 posted 05-23-2009 05:40 PM

Kepp going man… will do it.

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27248 posts in 5278 days

#5 posted 05-23-2009 05:41 PM

Eric, I have to agree that finishing is the operative word in this contest. Everyone that finishes is a winner in my book. I have to admire your perseverance in progressing as far as you have using only hand tools. I can honestly say that if I had to cut a dado by hand I would definately have given up by now and reached for my router or fired up my tablesaw. :)

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

View a1Jim's profile


118322 posts in 5033 days

#6 posted 05-23-2009 05:49 PM

More power to you I really admire people that keep trucking in spite of lack of shop space and minimal tools.


View kiwi1969's profile


608 posts in 4898 days

#7 posted 05-24-2009 12:25 AM

oh I so know the feeling!

-- if the hand is not working it is not a pure hand

View Eric's profile


875 posts in 5240 days

#8 posted 05-24-2009 03:43 PM

Thanks for the encouragement, guys. I just might finish it after all!

-- Eric at

View SplinteredBoard's profile


60 posts in 5063 days

#9 posted 05-24-2009 10:13 PM

C’mon Eric, you can do it!
Take a look at my lousy progress! If you can name all of the mistakes I made, you win a prize! Well, not really a prize, per say, maybe just bragging rights.

-- Splintered Board Podcast - Woodworker Un-extraordinaire

#10 posted 05-26-2009 08:42 PM

We vote for finishing it! Even if you don’t make it by the due date, you’ll feel better to have done it. And overcoming any obstacles, little or big, is part of the fun of the challenge!


-- Create with Confidence

View Eric's profile


875 posts in 5240 days

#11 posted 05-27-2009 04:56 AM

Well shoot if Rockler had a meeting and voted that I should finish it, then I guess I’d better! ;^) I agree, though, what you say about overcoming obstacles, and if you read my other blog entries you’ll know that obstacles are no stranger to me!

Sorry though, Rick, it won’t be done by June 1. I estimate that I have a good 15-20 hours of project time left on it, and I’m going out of town Saturday!

-- Eric at

View SplinteredBoard's profile


60 posts in 5063 days

#12 posted 05-29-2009 05:28 AM

Even if you don’t finish it on time, just send us pics of what you have on June 1st. We’ll want to see your progress…

-- Splintered Board Podcast - Woodworker Un-extraordinaire

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