Just had one of those days...

  • Advertise with us

« back to Coffee Lounge forum

Forum topic by SauceMan posted 04-22-2017 06:18 AM 1237 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View SauceMan's profile


57 posts in 1260 days

04-22-2017 06:18 AM

Topic tags/keywords: tiny violin crybaby whining

Hey all,

It’s time to bust out your tiny violins because I’m about to whine like a crybaby.

So I’ve decided to spend a little more time woodworking as a hobby. Off the bat, I ran out and spent a bunch of money, buying some tools and wood, but that doesn’t exactly make one a woodworker.

I then went and used one of these new tools (as well as my old ones) to build a fancy box joint jig. Ok, that’s a step in the right direction, but I’m just building woodworking tools, and nothing with them (side note: I built a CNC machine years back. While it was a blast to build, I barely made anything with it – I’m always the toolmaker.)

So I watched the wood whisperer, some video where people asked him about working on his shop. He said he could spend years working on his shop, so the trick is to avoid that temptation and make do something. Fair enough, I thought, and decided that my “something” was going to be a desk. Being a weekend warrior, I can only spend the weekends with my tools, and if I’m lucky, an hour or two in the evening if it isn’t too late that it will disturb the neighbors. So last weekend I toiled away on my desk, making the desk top and jointing and dimensioning lumber for the other parts. Got to the point where it was time to start making mortise and tenons, and while I was super excited to, but it was late so I had to stop.

So I read up on a million techniques, watched videos, getting myself ready. As I thought about it though, I started to work that my tenons may not come out right because some of my ends were not perfectly square. That’s because my cross-cut sled had been stored somewhere damp and warped a bit. But hey, I’m an aspiring woodworker who has built a few things, so I should be able to bust one right out, right? After all, I’ve built one before!

As luck would have it, I had Monday off, so I reckoned why not just make a new sled that day. I put it together real fast, cause you know, I’ve got skills… (Or do​ I?) Aaaaand… Now it’s time to square it up. Do my best with my square, drive a screw in, and it’s time for the 5 cut test.


Ok, measure the error, move the front of the sled, 5 more cuts.

...Fail harder.

Ok, see I adjusted the wrong direction, adjust again. 5 cuts.

...Fail, but not as badly.

Seeing a pattern here?

Then I noticed that I didn’t leave enough slack on the base of the jig, so that when I do my test cuts, the only thing holding it together is a very thin strip of wood that survived the cuts and the jigs fence which I’m detaching and moving. In frustration, I build a small bridge across that cut, throw in the towel, and call it quits until this weekend. So much for mortise and tenons.

So here I was, all week anxiously awaiting the start of the weekend. Watching videos, reading a blog here and there, getting all excited.

So I get home nice and early today, holler at my family to leave me be (sorry), then figure that being nice and fresh I’d get that sled squared up right away.

5 cuts, adjust…


5 cuts, adjust…


I kept swinging back and forth, with the error wrong in one direction then the other, then back again. 6 tries later, I give up. Just screw it in, measure for kicks, and see that when I caved it was one of my worst alignments yet.

I had picked up some wood to do a couple of test mortise and tenon joints before hitting the wood for my desk.

Guess who didn’t get to work on his desk? Guess who got humbled by a simple sled alignment? Guess who’s feeling sorry for himself?

If you read this far, thanks for your attention. You may now put down the violin.

Have a great weekend.


9 replies so far

View SuperCubber's profile


1138 posts in 3135 days

#1 posted 04-22-2017 12:39 PM

Hey Sauce,

Sounds like a frustrating week to be sure. Have you checked out Nick Ferry’s video about the 5 cut method? He explains it better than anyone else I’ve seen. It’s not very long and may help you align that sled. It helped me.

Good luck and let us know how those mortises and tenons turn out!

-- Joe | Spartanburg, SC | "To give anything less than your best is to sacrafice the gift." - Steve Prefontaine

View RobS888's profile


2829 posts in 2696 days

#2 posted 04-22-2017 01:09 PM

How much out were you with the 5th cut?

-- I always knew gun nuts where afraid of something, just never thought popcorn was on the list.

View SauceMan's profile


57 posts in 1260 days

#3 posted 04-22-2017 03:50 PM

Hey Joe,

I recently re-watched William Ng's explanation on the 5 cut method which is quite detailed. I had watched Nick Ferry’s video a few years ago, and skimmed over it just a couple of weeks ago. Also watched the Wood Whisperer’s video which (while good) was clearly a distilled version of William Ng’s (particularly since he starts by saying that he just took a class with William and it inspired him to make his video).

Rob, I was off by “too much”. It was enough that I could see it plainly when I held up a thin strip with the naked eye. On the order of .03-.08” over a span of about 20”.

Truth is, it’s very likely that my problem is due to the fact that the base of the sled was almost cut thougth. It was held together by a tiny little band. There was probably more play in that band of wood than the size of the feelers I was using to adjust. Also,I’ll run the bottom part of the sled’s fence over a jointer to make sure it’s nice and flat and square.

I just needed a place to vent where people would understand what I’m talking about :)


View MrUnix's profile (online now)


8212 posts in 3049 days

#4 posted 04-22-2017 03:53 PM

I just position the fence using a square, screw it down and call it a day. Works just fine for me. YMMV.


-- Brad in FL - In Dog I trust... everything else is questionable

View SauceMan's profile


57 posts in 1260 days

#5 posted 04-22-2017 04:05 PM

Hey Joe (again),

I re-watched Nicky Ferry's 5 cut explanation (I put a link for anyone who hasn’t seen it). He shows you the steps you need to take to measure it just like William Ng does it in his video, he just cuts to the chase and skips over any of the theory / explanation why it works. That’s not a bad thing, particularly if you don’t have the patience to sit through the other (rather long) video. At the end of the day, I’m pretty sure I was doing it correctly.

I hear you, and I should have done it your way. Problem was that once I used the measurement approach, I had numbers staring me in the face about how off I was, and it was hard to ignore them. Then I fell into the trap of trying to chase down those errors. Suddenly, it turned into a chore, became frustrating, and took the joy out of what i was doing.


View Rich's profile (online now)


5878 posts in 1440 days

#6 posted 04-22-2017 04:30 PM

If you take even your worst number, 0.08”, divide it by 4 and divide it by 20, that’s only 0.001” per inch. Maybe on the high end of where you want to be, but 0.03 is pretty good.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View SauceMan's profile


57 posts in 1260 days

#7 posted 04-22-2017 05:14 PM

Hi Rich,

You are right. I have a spreadsheet with all my measurements. They range from .00017/in (guess who should have quit then!) to 0.0009/in.

Where it bugs me, though, is when thinking about the error from one end of the fence to the other (which is about 25” away). that varies from .004” – 0.022”. When they talk about not chasing down that last thousandth, I always thought it was this number they were referring to (which dictates the feeler you need).

The biggest problem is that I just got totally derailed and frustrated—I fell into a trap.

View Rich's profile (online now)


5878 posts in 1440 days

#8 posted 04-22-2017 05:30 PM

The biggest problem is that I just got totally derailed and frustrated—I fell into a trap.

- SauceMan

That’s never happened to me. Kidding naturally. I have found chasing down that last thousandth of an inch to be pretty maddening too. Both of my sleds have probably a half-dozen holes in the bottom from multiple attempts at perfection.

-- Half of what we read or hear about finishing is right. We just don’t know which half! — Bob Flexner

View SauceMan's profile


57 posts in 1260 days

#9 posted 04-24-2017 06:47 AM

I didn’t let it get me down the whole weekend.

Ignoring the sled, I went back to my project and made a lot of progress!

Thanks for the sympathy the other day.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics