It just makes me so darn angry. The life I have led has been one of logic. I am the son of a mathematician and much of my adult working years have been spent as an analyst. When I make a dumb mistake it grates on my nerves worse than finger nails on a chalk board. Now I don’t have delusions that I am going to progress in woodworking mistake free. Quite the contrary, I see my mistakes as an opportunity to learn. I have learned a lot.
The angst I am feeling come from not only making a mistake, but spending a inordinate amount of time baffled by what was going on. I stood in my little workshop, no doubt, with a quizzical look on my face and just kept looking at the 4 pieces of wood. I had the two bottom feet and the two legs in hand. I had been careful to label each piece along the way. I am making 2 saw horses. So I labeled the feet, right foot 1, left foot 1, right foot 2, left foot 2, and so on and so forth. Because I am not able to cut perfect mortises and tenons, I felt it was important to make sure that all the pieces fit together as they are labeled. The slight differences mean that the parts won’t work as well, if they are interchanged.
Seems reasonable doesn’t it. My task today was to cut the tenons on the stretchers. I had cut the through mortises in the legs yesterday. I cut the tenons and though they are not perfect, they are better than any that I have cut before. Additionally, the cutting was much easier using my two new Japanese hand saws. I have read that it takes a bit of practice to get good with them, and that does seem to be the case, but with each cut, I get a little bit more accurate. The stretcher needs a tenon cut on each end, so I labeled the sides, after I marked them, rl rs and rl ls. The moment that the second side was marked, an alarm should have gone off. It did not.
So I took my stretcher downstairs and cut it. After the cutting, I wanted to assemble the feet, legs and stretcher, so that I might photograph it and write my nightly musings. It was the point at which I began assembling, that my brain began to become befuddled. Try saying “Brian’s Brain Began to Become Befuddled” four times quickly. I digress.
I grabbed the feet and pounded the legs into them, using my old black rubber mallet, which chooses to leave marks on anything it touches, and I am quite sure, on some things it doesn’t. Obviously I need to make a mallet purchase in the near future, but that isn’t my point. I grabbed rl rs and pounded it into the right Leg. Then I grabbed rl ls and pounded it into the left leg. I don’t know if you see the problem yet. I certainly didn’t. The more I tried to make things fit right, the angrier I got. I was fairly disgusted by the time I caught the problem.
My labeling was Right Leg Right Side and Right Leg Left Side. I had used the right leg from both saw horses to mark my stretcher. This was the silliest mistake. A trained Angolan Wrestling Monkey wouldn’t have struggled as much as I did with this one stretcher. For the next few minutes I was a little bit fussy. I then swapped out the left foot for the right foot from the second horse, and everything went together.
By the time I had finished photographing, my fuming ceased. I looked over my progress and though I could detect a myriad of mistakes and numerous black marks, I still felt a little bit of happiness welling up from deep in my innards. I have aspirations to create masterworks one day and my first saw horses are not masterworks, but what they are, they are among my first creations. That makes them special. I hope that when I am putting together cabinets or building dining room sets, that I don’t forget these first little projects. That the tiny joys from doing something I love are never taken for granted. I pray that I always remember that, an hour in the workshop is to be treasured, even if it makes me a bit fussy.
The next step is to cut kerfs in the tenons, so that I can wedge a hunk of wood in there to make the fit tight. Tune in tomorrow, same bat time, same bat channel.
-- Brian Meeks, http://extremelyaverage.com