All Replies on Can you just "slap something together"?

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View richgreer's profile

Can you just "slap something together"?

by richgreer
posted 01-23-2011 04:08 PM

47 replies so far

View BigTiny's profile


1707 posts in 3963 days

#1 posted 01-23-2011 04:20 PM

If someone asks me for a “cheap job” on something, I direct them to the nearest WalMart.

-- The nicer the nice, the higher the price!

View CharlieM1958's profile


16292 posts in 5293 days

#2 posted 01-23-2011 04:22 PM

I think I can successfully fight the urge to be a perfectionist when the situation calls for it.

Just recently I needed to replace the old, falling apart potting table on the side of my house. It’s in a place where almost no one but me ever sees it, so it is purely functional rather than decorative. Off I went to the big orange box for some ugly green treated pine and a box of deck screws, and about three hours later I had a newer and better version of what I was replacing. I had all those woodworker thoughts about countersinking and plugging screws, chamfering edges, etc., but in the end I convinced myself that time wasted on trying to make a silk purse out of this sow’s ear could be better spent on other projects.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Manitario's profile


2818 posts in 3958 days

#3 posted 01-23-2011 04:48 PM

My mother in law commisioned me to make her TV stand/shelving unit. I think that she was under the impression that I could do it in a weekend. Maybe I could if I had more than 6 months experience as a hobbiest woodworker. Maybe if I didn’t have 10 other projects on the go. I’ll get to it eventually, but it won’t be slapped together.

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4275 posts in 4239 days

#4 posted 01-23-2011 04:51 PM

Rich, I definitely have the same problem, at least to a degree. I will quote myself….........(-:

1) “I Cannot do Quick and Dirty AnyMore… a melody?”

2) “Dirty Dancing, and Quick as well- Garden Honey Do”

Now the first one is definitely a lament, I really can’t make total crap anymore. Here is a piece of junk I literally threw together, but of course it lasted 15 years, but now has been replaced. Notice that it is unfinished, the wood is splintered where I drilled holes with the old time spade bits, etc.

It has been replaced with this:

Notice the cute little oak footies, the WATCO finish, the carefully designed curves. I have subsequently added a group of punches to the rack, and I use it all the time. This is a clearly overkill.

The second, well, I took some absolute junk wood, and made some very simple planter stands, and painted them. This one shows the evolution away from just slapping something together. No fine woodworking joints, but definitely designed and executed in a fashion that makes them attractive and durable.

So, no. I cannot just slap something together anymore. Probably the only place I am even coming close is the installation of my new sanding machines on a ancient built in tool bench that came with the house. It is scheduled for demotlition to make way for first class cabinets, etc. No sense in getting fancy there.

I am getting a very bad case of LJ Overkill. I think it is getting worse, and is probably incurable….........(-:

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View swampjack80's profile


53 posts in 4124 days

#5 posted 01-23-2011 05:18 PM

Yeah, I kinda have that problem too. I’ve only been building for about a year, so I am constantly wanting to top myself on my next project. My attitude has always been this..I never know who is going to see one of my projects, so I don’t want them to see something “slapped together”. They may not know that it was a quick fix for something and assume this is how I do all my work, then you lose a potential customer. I agree with BigTiny, if they want cheap, walmart is the place.

-- "I believe that our Heavenly Father invented man because he was disappointed in the monkey." - Mark Twain

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 5080 days

#6 posted 01-23-2011 05:25 PM

Sometimes slapped together is just what’s needed. Otherwise you’ll build something that looks out of place and doesn’t belong.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View Roger Clark aka Rex's profile

Roger Clark aka Rex

6940 posts in 4510 days

#7 posted 01-23-2011 05:31 PM

Rich: I completely understand where you are coming from. Many customers have a no idea of what is expected from the demeaning instructions they give. “Slapping something together” simply means as cheap as I can get it, but generally they expect a masterpiece. It seems they have no respect for the craftsman, his skill and his pride of work.
Although I am not in the category of being a seasoned woodworker and don’t advertise to sell anything I make, I do have a lot of experience where as a mechanical designer I have been asked to make a “Thumb nail sketch”, when what was really expected was a full set of drawings including assembly and details with materials list etc. These customers would be aghast if I asked to belittle their skill/craftsmanship implying that what they earned their living at could be done with inferior materials, methods and finished products.
Anyone insisting on a “slapped together” project needs to sign a waiver illustrating direct instructions to builder/designer for non recommended production, else the product does not get made as demanded.

-- Roger-R, Republic of Texas. "Always look on the Bright Side of Life" - An eyeball to eyeball confrontation with a blind person is as complete waste of Time.

View RogerBean's profile


1605 posts in 4028 days

#8 posted 01-23-2011 07:06 PM

Great question Rich. Gave it some thought.

I guess I’ve reached a point in my life when I make what exactly what I want to, the way I want to make it, with the materials I want to use, and when I want to do it. I don’t make things for money, so that makes this arbitrary stance a bit easier, but when you made me think about it, that’s just the way it is. There’s a good feeling about making things that will be around a lot longer than I will. Thing is, the junk you “slap together” will be around a while too. How do you want to be seen/remembered/thought of? I don’t have enough time left to work on stuff I don’t like.

I’m hardly a perfectionist. Ask my wife. But I like the challenge of making things the best I can, and learning to ever do it better. Keeps me going working on the same box for 6 or 8 weeks. :-) Thanks for the question. It’s even helped me understand myself a bit better. Hope there is no additional charge for therapy.

So, from my viewpoint, your realization is very healthy. (Remember: “Life is hard. But, death is long.)


-- "Everybody makes mistakes. A craftsman always fixes them." (Monty Kennedy, "The Checkering and Carving of Gunstocks", 1952)

View helluvawreck's profile


32122 posts in 3942 days

#9 posted 01-23-2011 07:15 PM

I generally don’t like to ‘slap anything together’ or ‘throw anything together’. If anything is worth making it needs at least a basic level of care. I don’t mean that it has to be a masterpiece obviously. However, I have probably used those terms myself. I think the terms are rather meaningless really if you think about it. I saw a project this morning where the person used the term slapped it together. It was really very nicely done. It obviously wasn’t slapped together. I think it’s just sort of a slang term to mean that it was something that you didn’t spend and inordinate amount of time on.

-- helluvawreck aka Charles,

View miles125's profile


2180 posts in 5080 days

#10 posted 01-23-2011 07:47 PM

My definition of slapped together = Customer has no money for anything else or the project is of a nature that slapped together needs to be matched. A door for a shed that someone slapped together as just an example. Too much attention and it looks out of place.

-- "The way to make a small fortune in woodworking- start with a large one"

View woodcompass's profile


9 posts in 3761 days

#11 posted 01-23-2011 07:50 PM

When you build something, you put your name on it.
I recently had the same experience. A friend asked me to build him something and expected me to slap it together. When he came to pick it up he was blown away at how it was crafted, like any other serious project.
I said, “I am a woodworker. I don’t make crappy things”.

richgreer…psst… it’s manger.

-- I AM in a world of wood!

View TheGravedigger's profile


963 posts in 5099 days

#12 posted 01-23-2011 08:06 PM

“Slapping together” is a relative term that varies greatly with your skill/experience level. There are some that might think your manger was indeed slapped together since you didn’t research examples of actual first-century mangers, build to accurate scale using period-appropriate hand tools, and fill it with straw grown from plants that are indigenous to that part of the world. Me, I think that’s a bit excessive.

-- Robert - Visit my woodworking blog:

View spunwood's profile


1202 posts in 3911 days

#13 posted 01-23-2011 08:48 PM

Personally, that manager sounds like he needs to be slapped, but I am beginning to see that at the end of a project, all those little things I thought would be okay to leave alone bug the heck out of me.


-- I came, I was conquered, I was born again. ἵνα ὦσιν ἓν

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5236 days

#14 posted 01-23-2011 09:25 PM

reminds me of a LumberJock story from long ago – the wife said, “I want (a box)—just a box. Don’t go making it fancy. Just give me a plain old box” ... don’t think it happened.

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

View Mary Anne's profile

Mary Anne

1058 posts in 4283 days

#15 posted 01-23-2011 09:30 PM

Funny you should ask…
I slapped together a real manger (trough for feeding animals) just last week. I had a mechanical feeder with a timer in my yard that was supposed to spew out corn several times a day. Small critters got into it and chewed on critical parts making it unreliable. With blizzard conditions and hungry deer and other wildlife hanging around the yard I felt like I needed to build something quickly. It would have been a shame to make the wildlife wait while I fussed around making perfect dovetails!! So, in a couple of hours, I slapped together this manger out of scrap plywood, some screws, and a short piece of 2×4. It is not what anyone would call fine woodworking; there is nothing fancy or elegant about it, but I got it done in a hurry and it serves its purpose very well. Maybe I’ll build something nicer in the spring. For now, I am happy with it, and judging by all the tracks around it, the wildlife is very happy with it. Sorry, no pictures of it being used yet.

OTOH, for a children’s pageant, I probably would have taken more care and built something similar to yours. For something on more permanent display, I might have added even more details and a nicer finish. To answer your question, it depends on the situation or the use for me.

View Knothead62's profile


2600 posts in 4036 days

#16 posted 01-23-2011 10:17 PM

Rich, I think your approach to the project shows the pride you take in your work. I used to sell custom and factory cabinetry. New constructions seems to fit the “slap together” mentality. In the 2-1/2 years I was in the business, I never saw a carpenter use a square for framing or any other carpentry.

View samiam's profile


28 posts in 3878 days

#17 posted 01-24-2011 11:47 PM

The hardest part about this is the fact that it still takes a lot of effort to just “slap something together”. If I’m going to put any effort into it i want it to be something nice or at least nicely done.

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 4046 days

#18 posted 01-25-2011 12:56 AM

I have the same problem, Rich. I just can’t do a hafast job, even when I’m not getting paid. Just runs against my grain. Probably won’t ever be wealthy, but I’ll never have to be ashamed of something I build or did either, and that’s worth more than money.

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 4378 days

#19 posted 01-25-2011 12:59 AM

well just the words go against my grain, just like others have said here…i dont like doing rich…ive had my wife ask for something …now this was years ago…and she thought it could be done with a few nails and be done…just like miss debbie said…it didnt happen…and now my wife knows…it just dont happen with a few nails…i can see the need for it..but if its coming out of my shop…it wont be just slapped together…....nice animal feeder mary anne

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 4443 days

#20 posted 01-25-2011 01:11 AM

Rich, I had the exact same situation come up. I spent all of 3 hours building a “new” manger for a church. I used old Oak barn boards and a can of rusty screws. It looked as old this year as it did when I built it 15 years ago. When needed things can be slapped together, if slapped right.

View Bob Bonham's profile

Bob Bonham

35 posts in 4180 days

#21 posted 01-25-2011 01:23 AM

Another tack on the question, not to start a flame war.

I question the theology of slapped together manger…. Just sayin’

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 4149 days

#22 posted 01-25-2011 01:48 AM

Bob – I spend a good portion of my time studying theology and discussing/debating theological issues with a number of people. When I come to LJ, I don’t want to do any of that. This is my “escape” from religious and/or political discussions.

-- Rich, Cedar Rapids, IA - I'm a woodworker. I don't create beauty, I reveal it.

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 4443 days

#23 posted 01-25-2011 02:30 AM

What theology? A neighbor asked me for a favor and I complied. LOL

View Bob Bonham's profile

Bob Bonham

35 posts in 4180 days

#24 posted 01-25-2011 02:35 AM

Like I said I didn’t want to start a problem…

But it just seemed odd to me for someone from church for a church function to ask for something slapped together. It would seem one would want a little care. I think you did a terrific job and all the appropriate care was taken.

Sorry if I offended.

View papadan's profile


3584 posts in 4443 days

#25 posted 01-25-2011 02:38 AM

Hey Bob, that manger is now 2,011 years old, it has to look a little rough about now!

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4168 posts in 3931 days

#26 posted 01-25-2011 02:44 AM

If a jobs worth doing, it’s worth doing right.

I can still hear those words from my Pop (Grandfather)


-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4275 posts in 4239 days

#27 posted 01-25-2011 02:47 AM

Sounds to me that you went to a little bit of trouble to make it look old, hardly slapped together, probably prerusted the screws, got old barn wood, probably at a premium price because they were old….....(-;

Now I was going to claim I slapped something together yesterday, took an old cedar board, two pieces of new 2×4, and an old piece of plywood, to make a support for long boards for my radial arm saw. This prop sits on top of a multiuse cart…......I made from an old aquarium stand. The cart also serves to hold my router table.

But after thinking about it, I realized I not only used my new toy, a nail gun on it, I also used some Titebond III glue on it. I have had these old slapped together things last way too long…..........(-:

If you want to read the story of something that was requested to be slapped together, by my wife…..... this:

I alluded to it earlier in this thread.

Like I said, I really am not good at slapping things together anymore, even if just for the shop, although this wood support for the RAS came close…............

Have a good one….......


-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View JAGWAH's profile


929 posts in 4159 days

#28 posted 01-25-2011 02:51 AM

Sorry Rich but it sounds to me like you did slap it together.

I mean , come on, you know you could have made it fancier, better. It’s just that your “slap it together’” is still by anyones measure far better than most could do.

So when they say you did to much just say,”I thought you said to slap it together. Did I make it to sloppy?”

Some of us are really good…but the rest of us is just better!

I am above the law of Grammar!

-- ~Just A Guy With A Hammer~

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4275 posts in 4239 days

#29 posted 01-25-2011 02:55 AM

Speaking of mangers, a manger being an animal feeding trough, I remember my Dad saying that the best sweetcorn was fresh picked from the field, thrown into the horse trough (water implied here) and then a steam hose from the steam tractor was used to heat the water and cook the corn. That dates my Dad, long deceased, and probably dates me as well!

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View auggy53's profile


159 posts in 3755 days

#30 posted 01-25-2011 03:16 AM

i hate it when people ( my wife ) says , cant you just , that allways means make it a priceless piece in about 15 minutes

-- rick

View brianinpa's profile


1812 posts in 4798 days

#31 posted 01-25-2011 03:28 AM

My definition of “slap it together” is “take my time.”

There is only one person that I will “slap something together” for and that is me if I need a sanding block or clamping pad…

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

View Bill729's profile


241 posts in 4157 days

#32 posted 01-25-2011 03:52 AM

I enjoyed reading all the comments. I can relate. I don’t have time to waste slapping things together either! : )

View jm64's profile


36 posts in 3757 days

#33 posted 01-25-2011 06:16 AM

I don’t do this professionally so no money is involved. I love wood working and try to do my best on each project. Each flaw pains me (and only me). I try to learn something new or to do something better on each project. But when someone gives me a compliment I am thrilled and it makes all the hours worth it. So no, l don’t just slap it together. Ever.

-- Joe, Cumming, GA

View nate22's profile


501 posts in 3950 days

#34 posted 01-26-2011 07:13 PM

For me if I just slap something together it ends up looking like a kid did it so I don’t throw things together anymore. If someone tells me not to put to much time into it then I tell them to find someone else. Because I don’t rush though things.

-- Gracie's wooden signs. Middlebury, In.

View CaptainAhab's profile


214 posts in 3872 days

#35 posted 01-28-2011 11:50 PM

LOL…I agree with BigTiny….I don’t do cheap, go to Walmart for that

-- Dave

View Pop's profile


433 posts in 5021 days

#36 posted 01-29-2011 06:41 AM

Come on guys, It’s what the client wants and is willing to pay for. When I fix a piece of furniture I take my time & do it right and charge accordingly. When I’m building a support for something and the client is standing there waiting. It’s put together strong, no sanding, no finish, in a hurry and cheap.

Sometimes a mans gotta do what a mans gotta do. Keep my client happy.


-- One who works with his hands is a laborer, his hands & head A craftsman, his hands, head & heart a artist

View riverb's profile


45 posts in 3749 days

#37 posted 01-30-2011 09:36 AM

As the older I get the more I slow down and really want to produce quality products, no matter what it is.

View Roger491127's profile


3 posts in 3745 days

#38 posted 02-03-2011 11:10 AM

I must present myself as a Master of slapping things together, in contrast to all you perfectionists. The reason is that I am suffering from a serious case of rheumatism in my fingers and bad knees. So I have to slap things together fast and dirty or not at all.

Earlier I was like you, making wood parts very straight and sanding surfaces so they fit perfectly, so a thin layer of wood glue got a good grip and joined the parts forever.

Now I have started using a heat glue gun, and then I have to prepare the parts like you prepare steel parts for welding, creating angled sides to create space too fill with heated glue. I secure the joints with a few wood screws just in case the glue would lose its grip.

If I would create flat surfaces the glue would get cold before I can put glue on all surfaces, so that doesn’t work. I have to create 2mm slanted slits, put the parts together, and then fill the slits with heated glue.

I recently joined a low two shelf thing on wheels with a bookshelf to create a high movable shelf for audio equipment. If I place the heaviest units, power amps, on the lowest shelfs and lighter units higher up I will get it stable so it doesn’t fall. By making the shelf movable I can easily access the backside to connect the units with cables.

The next project is making two loudspeaker boxes from 14mm fiber board. I will saw the parts with slightly slanted cuts with my electric jigsaw, and glue the boxes with heated glue.

-- Roger491127 Sweden

View dbray45's profile


3408 posts in 3852 days

#39 posted 02-03-2011 03:32 PM

One of the things I have learned over the years – if it is supposed to be a short term item, just to get through something – it will be there to remind you for years and years and years, the darn thing never goes away. If it was made of pine, left in the dirt, it will not rot – unless it is to make the piece look even worse but it will not go away.

What was the movie about a mad crazy doll that kept coming back – Chucky or something? This had to have been written by someone that made a “just slap something together” project – the doll was the project.

If you make it to last for years, whether it does or not, you will still be proud of it.

-- David in Palm Bay, FL

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4275 posts in 4239 days

#40 posted 02-03-2011 06:37 PM

Thinking about your issue. Do you, or can you, use nail guns? Glue and nails is remarkably strong and easy, and might allow you to use regular glue. A air powered brad nailer, or perhaps a pin nailer, is very light. Combined with one of the slower setting glues, you might have the time to use the more usual construction techniques.

Just a thought, it sounds like you have evolved your own system. I haven’t used a hot glue gun in many years, although I still have one. I slowly drifted into a peculiar system of predrilling very small holes, and then using glue and small nails, even in thin plywood. Now it is apparent that the smaller nail guns will be faster.

I have some hand and wrist issues, but they are obviously minor compared to yours.

........and re my “slapped together” long board support for my RAS will probably get some wood filler, and then a coat of Watco. I do not build unfinished shop objects anymore. I know they will be around for years.

Alaska Jim (currently in La Conner, northern Washington state, on vacation)

-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Ken90712's profile


17994 posts in 4264 days

#41 posted 02-03-2011 06:40 PM

I have the same problem, I made some fishing rod holders for a buddy. He asked for some stating nothing fancy. I spent a few hours and thought I didnt go too over board. He was real happy but told me I didnt want you to spend this much time on it.

The other day Blondie brought a chair home that one of her co-workers had broken. She said how ever you can get it back together, I don’t care what it looks like. Well I had to take the chair apart and so I could make dowels to hold the bent wood together. I epoxied the chair back together and was matching the stain is best I could. What stopped me from getting too carried away was I would have sanded down the whole chair and refinished it. Good thing I only had part of the chair and not the other ones. End result I was not proud, however she was So Happy and thought it looked perfect. So I guess once in a while it doesnt have to be held to our highest standards.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Roger Clark aka Rex's profile

Roger Clark aka Rex

6940 posts in 4510 days

#42 posted 02-03-2011 07:05 PM

Jim B:
Thanks for the concern Jim, I am making progress and getting around more, last year was a complete bummer.
As soon as I can, I plan to tidy up the shop and make it ready for my triumphant return.
I got a wood stove a while ago and have found someone to install it for me, so all I’ll need then is to move a bed down there and I’ll always be in the shop. lol

-- Roger-R, Republic of Texas. "Always look on the Bright Side of Life" - An eyeball to eyeball confrontation with a blind person is as complete waste of Time.

View Derek Lyons's profile

Derek Lyons

584 posts in 4643 days

#43 posted 02-03-2011 07:43 PM

Yep, I can easily ‘just slap something together’ if that’s all that’s called for. I did it just yesterday. We needed a temporary base for temporary guinea pig cage (long story), so I just sawed up some cheap-ass plywood. I originally set it on sawhorses, but that made it too tall, I pondered building a rough set of legs until I realized that a couple of storage totes were just the right height.

It has nothing to do with lack of craftsmanship or pride. Sometimes all you need is a chunk of plywood and some storage totes.

The trick is to find the balance and know the difference without fooling yourself.

-- Derek, Bremerton WA --

View meestajack's profile


33 posts in 3746 days

#44 posted 02-03-2011 07:56 PM

I’ve been known to slap things together in the past, but much less so these days.

years ago before I moved out on my own I built a rough computer table/desk to accommodate a workstation and get the computer up off a coffee table. cheap piece of precut 3’x6’ pine for the top, 2”x3/4” pine rails glued and screwed, steel Ikea bolt on legs, no finish aside from a light sanding.

That table was with me forever, it moved with me to my first apartment… for many years my girlfriend, turned wife would bring up that ugly shoddy table as an example of my “skill” whenever I talked about building something. Even after I had broken it down and gotten rid of it, the shadow of that crappy desk hung around to haunt me.

now, I’m much more careful about what I make… It’s better to put things off until you have time to do them properly, than it is to be thought of as a poor craftsman.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

4275 posts in 4239 days

#45 posted 02-03-2011 08:01 PM

Oh, another example of slapped together. About 20 years ago, when we first got my bird Kermit, I made a jungle gym out of PVC pipe, and put it on a small mobile platform made from plywood. I didn’t even glue the PVC, because the bird immediately made it one of his favorite places, and the glue fumes were a no-no around the bird. The stand, well, we were worried he would chew on the wood, which he never did over the next 20 years, but that was the excuse for not putting a finish on it. Then after remodeling my office, where it resided next to a window (he loves to look out and watch for other birds and animals) we had a bay window with a ledge, so I took off the wheeled base, which was designed so that there was just a drop fit to the jungle gym base, and put the jungle gym on the ledge.

So there it sits, 20 years later, in a beautiful room with custom woodwork, still unfinished, and in daily use by Kermit. I should have done the research, made sure the finish was bird safe, finished it, glued the PVC, let it dry out over a week or two…........and then let the bird use it. Now…....well it will never happen. Slapped together was, as noted here over and over, a bad solution.

........but the bird is happy….....(-:


-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Sodabowski's profile


2400 posts in 3908 days

#46 posted 02-04-2011 02:08 AM

Am I the only one to think “trout” when reading “slap”? 0:)

-- Thomas - there are no problems, there are only solutions.

View greg48's profile


633 posts in 3832 days

#47 posted 02-04-2011 02:57 AM

Thank you for the thought provoking question. A while back I started to build a small play table for my grand daughter. My wife thought it would be nice if I wrote a small blessing in an inconspicuous place that she might find later. That dispelled any thoughts of “slapping” something together. If it is worth placing a blessing on it, it should be more than a minimal effort. Now all my gifts to her contain a hidden blessing and are done to the best of my God given ability

-- Greg, No. Cal. - "Gaudete in Domino Semper"

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