What is Your Most Embarrasing Workshop Mistake/Failure?

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Blog entry by stefang posted 01-31-2010 09:05 PM 1701 reads 0 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

After posting my workshop plaque I thought we might hear some interesting and funny workshop disasters. So if you are brave enough and don’t mind being teased by 16,000 LJ members lets hear your story(s). I have enough incidents to publish a thick book, and I plan to start off with one story, but I will post some more later as they come to mind. So here goes;

My oldest grandson who is 12 yrs old came over to scroll saw a very detailed and challenging round trivet. I was pretty amazed and a little jealous that he was better at it than me, but very happy at the result which took him about 4 hours of hard work. I told him that we could top it off nicely by smoothing the edges with a nice roundover cut on the router table. Everything went well until the last little bit when I think I was obsessed with grain direction and turned the trivet in the wrong direction chewing out a pretty good hunk of wood on the edge and a little of the pattern too. My grandson was absolutely great about this, even though he probably would have liked to kill me at the time! It took me about 5 hours of fixing including one failed attempt and a final success. There was still very small visible glue seam on the edge, but otherwise it came out good. Maybe he should be instructing me!

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

17 comments so far

View lew's profile


12840 posts in 4231 days

#1 posted 01-31-2010 09:09 PM

This is the worst one:

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View webwood's profile


626 posts in 3726 days

#2 posted 01-31-2010 09:22 PM

my table saw has no guards , spliter , etc – i was teaching christy how to use it , explaining kickback when pow – i caught one right in the chest – broke the skin – to this day she sets up the saw but i’m the push man

-- -erik & christy-

View GaryK's profile


10262 posts in 4464 days

#3 posted 01-31-2010 09:30 PM

Well, this happened at work and not in my shop.

I designed an entire automation machine. Components, wiring, plumbing, mechanical…

Went to plug it in to test it and guess what? Yea, no power cord.

-- Gary - Never pass up the opportunity to make a mistake look like you planned it that way - Tyler, TX

View richgreer's profile


4541 posts in 3550 days

#4 posted 01-31-2010 09:43 PM

This just happened yesterday. I admit that this is more about carpentry than woodworking, but it was still an embarrassment.

I spent last week building a closet and a pantry for our church. I desperately wanted to complete it prior to last evening’s service and this morning’s service. I was working late into the afternoon yesterday. Both the closet and the pantry have conventional 6 panel solid oak doors and I put typical closet doorknobs on each. The last thing I did was put shelves in the pantry. The pantry is not very deep so I wanted to bring the shelves out into the door casing as much as possible to provide deeper shelves. When I thought I was done, and about to leave, I closed the pantry door and the inside doorknob hit a shelf and the door would not close. It was too late to correct the problem and I got some good natured teasing about it this morning.

FYI – tomorrow I will remove the inside door handle and replace it with a flat piece of wood. One does not need an inside door handle on a pantry. I cannot believe how many (stupid) people thought I would solve this problem by cutting a notch into the shelf.

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

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3585 days

#5 posted 02-01-2010 02:33 AM

I have made many errors in the shop, most do not deserve publication :) But I will share one incident in which I learned that I won’t lend my assistance to half-cheeked work.

My stepdad needed help moving shelving from his basement to his garage. He built the thing himself and it was just a pile of 2×4s butt-jointed to some shelves. I drew numbers on the wood order, hammered it apart and was going to reassemble in his garage. I was pulling out my levels to set the shelves before hammering when he just started hammering shelves in. “Don’t worry about it, I don’t care how they look. I just wanted them out of the basement” is what he yelled and so I let him do his thing and I helped move it into a corner of the garage. The shelves were awful, most so out of level I would be amazed if they ever could be used. A little later, I come out to get my tools and I see him talking to the neighbor. “Yeah, my stepson helped me put this together…he works with wood…” I was so embarrassed I could hardly look the fellow in the eye. Of all the things to show this man as an example of my work.


-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View Jeison's profile


968 posts in 3584 days

#6 posted 02-01-2010 02:53 AM

very very carefully laying out the cuts on a sheet of plywood, very very carefully cutting perfectly along those lines, then wondering why all the pieces seemed to be the wrong size and stomping around in frustration.

and that ladies and gentlemen is how Jei learned about this concept called a saw kerf…. \o/

-- - Jei, Rockford IL - When in doubt, spray it with WD-40 and wrap it with duct tape. The details will attend to themselves.

View Tim Dahn's profile

Tim Dahn

1588 posts in 4041 days

#7 posted 02-01-2010 03:27 AM

Well let’s see, there was that entertainment/TV cabinet I made for my wife’s parents for Christmas one year. I finished on time, loaded it in our vehicle, hauled 2 1/2 hours away, carried it in the house and the TV wouldn’t fit….OUCH! We brought the cabinet back home and I removed a shelf to make more room and they still use that cabinet today.

-- Good judgement comes from experience and experience comes from poor judgement.

View a1Jim's profile


117708 posts in 4053 days

#8 posted 02-01-2010 07:56 AM

I was rushing to crate up a shaker table I made and there was a dead line to get it to the shipper so i was hurrying to get it on the truck and shipped. As I nailed the crate together I nick my finger with the seven penny nails not once or twice but four times. I was fortunate that none of the nails hit my fingers straight on only put cuts on the edges of four different fingers This was the first and last time I every hit my fingers with a nail gun. It all goes to show don’t rush when using tools

View 559dustdesigns's profile


633 posts in 3644 days

#9 posted 02-01-2010 09:16 AM

I would call it the primer crime scene. I had a friends table saw at my place and was using the top of it as a work bench. While connecting some pvc pipes for my dust collection. I managed to spill the primer all over the top of the table, down the edge, on the fence rail and even the power switch. At first I thought It would just wipe off so I started on the top. When I got to the painted parts I found out it is now permanently purple in color and the plastic switch is going to need replacing. I have been kicking my self since. I guess these things happen so we wont do that again. Just wish there were less of those in my life. I think we all have more of these “disasters” I mean stories.

-- Aaron - central California "If you haven't got the time to do it right, when will you find the time to do it over?"

View TopamaxSurvivor's profile


18655 posts in 4152 days

#10 posted 02-01-2010 10:33 AM

This is about electrical installation on a very spendy wine cabinet. I was cutting the boxes in very carefully, when my jug saw suddenly stopped. I checked and it was still plugged in, then checked the outlet, the cord was still plugged in. Saw still wouldn’t run. Got my meter and was checking for power. Everything was OK, but the saw still wouldn’t work! I pulled the saw out and the cord was cut off. Somehow, it had pulled right up under the cut. I was so concentrated on not messing up the cabinet, I hadn’t noticed.

-- Bob in WW ~ "some old things are lovely, warm still with life ... of the forgotten men who made them." - D.H. Lawrence

View webwood's profile


626 posts in 3726 days

#11 posted 02-01-2010 08:41 PM

thats funny topamax – a friend of mine cut the cord off his brand new circ. saw

-- -erik & christy-

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3779 days

#12 posted 02-02-2010 04:34 AM

mine was while i was working on a carving and putting my left hand above the chisel and sending the said chisel right into it…therefore causing me to require 6 stitches…..i knew better… hoping it wont happen again…

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

View dlmckirdy's profile


199 posts in 3609 days

#13 posted 02-02-2010 04:47 AM

We’ve been through our stupid injury accidents, and mine is healed up well and feeling is coming back (slowly). These are all serious safety violations (and I used to be a safety rep.), and we all can learn from them.

As far as a stupid shop stunt, a long time ago, I was changing the oil in my wife’s car , in my new the garage, of all places! I dropped the hot oil pan plug into the tub of hot oil. Oh well, I can retrieve it before add the new oil. I proceeded to change the filter and then added 5 quarts of oil. I took one step and slipped in the 5 quart oil puddle – Yep, the plug was still in the waste oil container!

That was probably the last time a whole car ever fit in my garage (except the Model T that I am restoring).

-- Doug, Bakersfield, CA - I measured twice, cut it twice, and it is still too short!

View Chelios's profile


568 posts in 3542 days

#14 posted 02-02-2010 05:06 AM

Mine was a really stupid mistake while I was planing end grain on the jointer. I shouldn’t have been doing that in the first place. I had made several passes already on a 12 lb block when for a second I didn’t think and at the end of the pass I slid the block back into the knives as if it were a becnh plane motion and as soon as the knives hit the block there was a huge explosion( of sound ) and a tenth of a second later it hit me right in the gut. No blood (externally at least) and I lay there for about ten min with the wind knocked out of me and then I couldn’t walk straight for a week. I never agian have lost my concentration…lesson learned.

View daves1's profile


188 posts in 3242 days

#15 posted 02-09-2011 01:50 AM

My story is more of a construction project. We have a vacation condo and my wife wanted a pantry put in. So I knocked out the wall and made the pantry. Got the 3 panel door (small pantry) and made the cutouts for the hinges. Finished the project, sat down to have a beer and admire my work and realized I put the door on upside down. It is still that way. Nobody has ever said a word.

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