Turning mistakes into opportunities.

28 Jan

We’ve all done it; cut some piece in our project the wrong size, accidentally gouged it, or otherwise messed it up. Usually, we just move on to another piece, discarding that one.

Sometimes “mistakes” can actually be opportunities in disguise.

One example was Edison’s attempt to make a telegraphic-telephonic repeating and recording device, it didn’t work, but when somebody gave it a spin it sounded like human speech. Edison started from that chance observation and developed the phonograph.

It can also happen in the shop.

While developing my clock Keene, I turned would could have been a disaster into a chance to get really creative.

Take a look at this picture – especially the shot of the back of the clock:

craftsman clocks

Look at the sides of the door. You’ll see the back door, which is quilted maple, a thin sliver of Paduak, and then more maple. It’s a nice visual interest; otherwise, it would have been just plain maple on maple, up to the Paduak leg.

It wasn’t intended that way! Here’s the back-story:

I had to rabbet the sides of the clock to recive the back door. I did this on my router table. It was a 1/4” rabbett on a 1/2” stock. Of course, I set up and tested the rabbett on a scrap piece of stock. Worked fine. Right depth and so on. My mistake was, I did the whole depth in one pass on the real pieces. I should have done an 1/8” at a time, instead of the whole 1/4”. What ended up happening was, the bit crept out of the collet on the router, cutting deeper than I wanted. Ugh!

The only option was to throw out 4 nice pieces of maple ( I was making two clocks), or get creative.

What I ended up doing was re-rabbetting all four pieces to an equal depth, and then gluing in a strip of paduak to bring the rabbett back up to the originally intended 1/4” depth, to properly receive the door. The result was a more visually appealing ( I think) back of these pieces.

Obviously, sometimes mistakes can’t be fixed; if you needed a piece to be 8” long, and you cut it to 7”, you probably can’t just glue it back on and hope no one will notice. Some mistakes are final.

But other times, if you get creative, you can turn mistakes into a positive.

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Posted by on January 28, 2012 in BlogNotes



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