Mistakes are Just Forced Opportunities

15 Jun

I make mistakes in the wood shop – too many.

Sometimes “mistakes” are just forced opportunities.

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.

For example, I was making a mantle clock, about 16″ high, shown here:

Keene Mantle Clock

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. 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.


Posted by on June 15, 2012 in BlogNotes



6 responses to “Mistakes are Just Forced Opportunities

  1. Jeff

    December 4, 2021 at 6:21 am

    Love the way your mistake became a highlight. How did you make the clock face ring?

  2. pashley1916

    December 5, 2021 at 9:02 pm

    Thanks….so I cut out the ring from stock using a circle cutter bit on a drill press…they are kinda dangerous, be wary! Cleaned it up on oscillating drum sander. After that, to the router table – the inner part was an ogee bit, the outer just rounded over a bit

    • Jeff

      December 6, 2021 at 3:27 am

      Thanks for your reply. Seems routing the interior of the circle should be the most dangerous part unless you cutout the interior ring first then routed the interior profile and after completing this, then cutting out the larger portion of the outer ring. Holding a narrow ring going round on a router bit, interior or exterior, seems harrowing.
      Needless to say your execution looks perfect.

      • pashley1916

        December 6, 2021 at 8:19 am

        That part of the procedure isn’t super safe either. I’m trying to recall how I did it, I haven’t done it in several years (divorce, loss of shop)….I think I may have used a small palm router to knock down gently that inner ring part, then finished up with an ogee bit on the router table? I’m sorry, not quite sure. However, those circle cutter bits can come apart, and certainly hit your hands; they are very, let’s say, ungraceful.

      • Jeff Heon

        December 6, 2021 at 3:02 pm

        However you achieved it, it compliments your clock design nicely. Sorry to hear of your loss. While my lively hood is not derived from woodworking, I have spent many years collecting and investing in my shop tools and would be hard pressed to face the loss of them. I primarily make pieces that feature Marquetry but have fancied making a few small clocks that feature unique art tiles as a component.
        Thanks again.


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