Lessons learned

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Forum topic by MrRon posted 12-15-2018 06:09 PM 1365 views 0 times favorited 11 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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6260 posts in 4585 days

12-15-2018 06:09 PM

Having worked in the shipbuilding industry all my life, a topic that always came up after the completion of a ship was “lessons learned”. I’m sure this has come up in the military and other industries also. The purpose of lessons learned is to keep from making the same mistake on the next project. Lessons learned is a particularly valuable ingredient in woodworking. To start this off, I will present one of my “lessons learned” experiences.

If I was building a wood project, I would first make a drawing, then select the wood and lay out the cuts to be made. I would then go to my saw and make the necessary cuts, only to realize the parts don’t go together as they were planned, because the depth of cut was too shallow or too much or I would end up with a piece that was too short. Remember you can always make another cut, but you can’t do anything about a too short piece. That is where I now take trial cuts on scrap to insure it is correct before cutting into the good wood. I also cut to as precise a dimension as I can. I may make multiple trial cuts until I’m satisfied that it is correct. This takes time, but you are rewarded with a finished piece that goes together flawlessly.

I post this in Coffee Lounge, because lessons learned applies to all areas of construction. What is your “lessons learned”?

11 replies so far

View therealSteveN's profile


9403 posts in 1916 days

#1 posted 12-15-2018 06:57 PM

Probably same as a lot of others.

Measure 3 times, cut once, then start cussing…...

Seriously, because of doing that I try to “measure” as little as possible, and use parts to make other parts depending on known lengths, and also using story sticks. Cause sure as the grass grows in the spring, you WILL make measuring errors, and then you will start cussing. DAMHIKT.

-- Think safe, be safe

View ralbuck's profile


6795 posts in 3608 days

#2 posted 12-15-2018 07:25 PM

If it is something that needs to be accurate, beyond reasonable’ I deliberately cut a tiny bit long and then sand carefully to the exact size. Much easier to sand it off instead of trying to add it back on. My welder does NOT work well with wood!

-- Wood rescue is good for the environment and me! just rjR

View 000's profile


2859 posts in 2241 days

#3 posted 12-15-2018 07:33 PM

I have lots of “Lessons Learned”
problem is that next time I do it it may be 6 or 8 months later and I forget the lessons learned,
that is until I make the same damn mistake again and go…
Oh yeah….. :>/

My biggest lesson learned that I could pass on would be not to rush a finish.
Things always go south in a hurry. Stuff just has to dry, period.

View OSU55's profile


2945 posts in 3331 days

#4 posted 12-15-2018 10:09 PM

Too many to list, just thinking about it I’m not sure where to start…..

The finish is 1/2 the project (for furniture etc), so spend the same amount of time developing knowledge and skills as spent on designing/building, the finish is part of the design process.

Learn how to research/investigate topics. Dont stop at the 1st or 2nd source of info – they are many ways of doing things in ww. Easy to find what appears to be a good method, but has drawbacks the presenter doesnt cover because they dont realize it or intentionally “cover it up”. Think it through – does it really make sense?

Stanley Bailey design hand planes work great with oem irons and chipbreakers – no need for thick, expensive aftermarket parts. Learn proper tuning and sharpening.

Oil based poly sucks to spray – overspray turns everything into sandpaper

Water based finishes have no chatoyance, but oil or shellac under them can help a lot

120V table saws have enough power for hobbyists – a good blade and slower feed rate works every time. Time is not $ to you.

View MrRon's profile


6260 posts in 4585 days

#5 posted 12-16-2018 06:37 PM

Here is another “lessons learned” example: When fastening two pieces of wood together with screws or nails, you will usually end up with a misaligned result, like on a picture frame. To prevent this, use clamps to hold the pieces together in their proper position before driving a screw or nail. Once that screw or nail is driven, it is impossible to correct any misalignment. Take the time necessary to do it right.

View Desert_Woodworker's profile


8809 posts in 2556 days

#6 posted 12-17-2018 03:27 AM

Many, but that is life… Most importantly learn from them.
For example $$$ of damaged bits- because it was ME who told the CNC what to do.

-- Desert_Woodworker

View TheFridge's profile


10863 posts in 2828 days

#7 posted 12-17-2018 04:22 AM

DW is so mean to his CNC. That’s child abuse in some circles.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View Desert_Woodworker's profile


8809 posts in 2556 days

#8 posted 12-17-2018 05:20 AM

So quick to judge, young Alder Prince-
Look at the photos- there is no ALDER abuse in the test
When it comes to the final process- I only cut ALDER on my machine…

-- Desert_Woodworker

View bigblockyeti's profile


8040 posts in 3062 days

#9 posted 12-03-2021 12:59 PM

Never argue with an idiot, they’ll drag you down to their level then beat you with experience.

-- "Lack of effort will result in failure with amazing predictability" - Me

View Ken Masco's profile

Ken Masco

916 posts in 4192 days

#10 posted 12-05-2021 02:06 AM

A friend coined the phrase: don’t practice with live ammunition. He was talking about the finishing process. what he meant was, never put a finish on a project that you haven’t practiced on a sample first. Don’t ask how I learned this. Now I start playing with the finishing process with my first few cut offs. I sand several pieces of scrap to the final grit, apply the “finish with the technique and number of costs till I love the result, then when the time comes, after I’ve spent hours on building the piece, I know for sure how it will turn out

-- Ken

View Desert_Woodworker's profile


8809 posts in 2556 days

#11 posted 12-05-2021 02:45 AM

+1 Ken

-- Desert_Woodworker

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