Anatomy of a mess-up

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Project by Slacker posted 09-01-2008 11:14 PM 2477 views 0 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Anatomy of a mess-up
Anatomy of a mess-up No picture No picture No picture No picture No picture
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I am going to be a granpa in January and I am making a crib for the baby. After some serious price shopping, I finally purchased $300 of maple and cherry. Got home, hit the machines, and cut the legs (1 3/4×2 1/4). There were some mortises to be cut into the legs, and instead of being disciplined and cutting the rest of the sticks, I went for the mortises.

I cut the mortises on the wrong face of the sticks. Argh! What a terrible feeling when you are looking at the instructions and things dont make sense, and then you think about it, then look at the boards and the mortises, and then you figure it out… I am an idiot! And this time I was an idiot with a $70 piece of wood.

After some deliberating, I decided to use the leftover pieces of cherry to fill the mortises, and then cover the mistake with some quarter inch strips cut from a long piece of the same stick of cherry. This is the photographic journal of a screw up, followed by the recovery.

Nice mortises, wrong face, argh!
Nice mortises, wrong face, argh!

Cut some sticks to stuff the holes… they fit.
Filler material

After glue up, the mortises are now covered up, planed and ready to receive a new face…

Hole is covered up

The new face… in two slices. Not perfect, but better than buying a new $70 stick.
New face

Ready to get a mortise on the correct face…
New face

The rest of the crib is in the thumbnail. I am excited about this project, so I will focus and stop messing up!

-- Adapt, improvise, overcome

18 comments so far

View CaptainSkully's profile


1615 posts in 4641 days

#1 posted 09-01-2008 11:24 PM

I did the same thing to my first Arts & Crafts coffee table! I try to label everything (e.g. top, bottom, front, back, left, right etc.) when looking at which side I want to be the “show” side. Then I draw the mortises onto the wood lightly (so they can be sanded off if needed) and dry fit the legs in their proper 3D orientation. This has helped me catch numerous mistakes. It’s a beautiful project for a beautiful cause. Wood filler and a darker stain might help conceal a boo boo. Try to get over the frustration, learn from the mistake, and keep making sawdust. Good luck and keep us posted.

-- You can't control the wind, but you can trim your sails

View TNwoodchuck's profile


102 posts in 4858 days

#2 posted 09-01-2008 11:26 PM

Welcome to the race! Nice recovery!

-- Chuck near Nashville - “All you are unable to give possesses you” (Andre Gide)

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5243 days

#3 posted 09-01-2008 11:31 PM

great save :)

I guess they are the marks of pride—so excited about the grandchild that you were anxious to “get ‘er done”.. they just show your love :)

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Slacker's profile


178 posts in 4784 days

#4 posted 09-01-2008 11:35 PM

tru dat, miss debbie

-- Adapt, improvise, overcome

View Bob O'Brien's profile

Bob O'Brien

11 posts in 4697 days

#5 posted 09-02-2008 02:15 AM

I recently measured not twice, but thrice, but unfortunately to the wrong side of the blade. So the table is 1/4-inch smaller…. These mistakes, and how we accommodate them and patch them up create the lore that sets handmade craftsmanship apart from mass-produced commodities. Bravo to your project and your recovery!

-- Bob

View sIKE's profile


1271 posts in 4837 days

#6 posted 09-02-2008 04:00 AM

Man that sucks! I have made mistakes before, but luckily not on a $70 stick. I bet your grandchild will love it once your done with it.

-- //FC - Round Rock, TX - "Experience is what you get just after you need it"

View Karson's profile


35273 posts in 5483 days

#7 posted 09-02-2008 04:34 AM

Great recovery. Sorry about the problem. But problems seem to be a face of life. So many ways to screw up and only one way to get it right.

-- 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 Mike's profile


391 posts in 4700 days

#8 posted 09-02-2008 01:34 PM

My tagline says it all….measure once cut twice….

Some planned piece gets “planned” for use somewhere else…

-- Measure once cut twice....oh wait....ooops.

View TedM's profile


2002 posts in 4815 days

#9 posted 09-02-2008 01:44 PM

Great save! And a great story to tell the young ‘un some day… :)

-- I'm a wood magician... I can turn fine lumber into firewood before your very eyes! - Please visit and sign up for my project updates!

View Woodwrecker's profile


4240 posts in 4658 days

#10 posted 09-02-2008 02:07 PM

All’s well that ends well.
That’s a lucky baby to have a grandpa like you.

View Dekker's profile


147 posts in 4963 days

#11 posted 09-02-2008 02:42 PM

Whenever I make a mistake like that (haven’t we all?), in addition to thinking of a way to fix/hide it, I try to also think of a way to make it part of the design. In your case, depending on exactly which side you put the hole for the mortise and how much maple there was in your piece, you could have considered making a maple “through tenon”, or some other design feature.

But you made a nice save nonetheless. Looking forward to seeing the final results!

-- Dekker -

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5623 posts in 4795 days

#12 posted 09-02-2008 02:56 PM

Jenn and I just spent the weekend replacing a rotten fence with a new cedar fence. I empathize with your dread of replacing a 70 dollar stick… I made several mistakes (in my defence it was my first ever fence:-) and it really helps to have an understanding spouse who realizes we learn a lot with these ‘design modifications’.

Nice save, looking forward to seeing the finished project.

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View Douglas Bordner's profile

Douglas Bordner

4073 posts in 5147 days

#13 posted 09-02-2008 03:13 PM

Just encountered a similar whoops on door trim. Thanks Mr. Scarf Joint!

-- "Bordnerizing" perfectly good lumber for over two decades.

View rpmurphy509's profile


288 posts in 4937 days

#14 posted 09-02-2008 04:15 PM

Along with the other comments, great recovery!
I think we’ve all done this at one time or another, or at least, if it hasn’t happened
yet; it will ;)

It’s not a mistake, it’s part of the design!

-- Still learning everything

View PurpLev's profile


8652 posts in 4731 days

#15 posted 09-02-2008 04:35 PM

Nice save! – thats one of the nice things about wood – if you know how to – you can always find a way to recover – one way , or another.

Thanks for sharing, it’s nice to know everyone screws up once in a while, kinda makes us normal.

-- ㊍ When in doubt - There is no doubt - Go the safer route.

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