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Blog entry by Jbreth posted 11-04-2009 03:00 AM 1552 reads 0 times favorited 14 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Today was one of the most humiliating and degrading days of my life. I made some casings for a customer and glanced at the work order, it said 12’ boards, I made 10’. Another order called out a (1) 3/4” board, and (4) 1” boards, I made them all 1”. Today I had my eyes opened to competency. I was in such a hurry and didn’t even realize the mistakes I had made. The bad part is my items made it past quality control, so I guess he too was competent. We get so set in rushing that it is easy to ovelook major details. Needless to say, I was pulled into the managers office, (closed door), and had a talking to. The taliking really was a low blow, I felt like I wasn’t that great of a woodworker, and my stomach actually ached after it was all said and done. After the talk we went out on the floor and talked about other things and he found one of my leftovers from the post caps that I posted a little while back, and said they weren’t really that good either. The miters sucked and the bases weren’t perfectly square. “They really looked like sh!*”,he said. Well I really felt bad, he had hit me with a blow that I had a hard time recovering from. I prayed about it, and tried to strum along and get back into the motion of things, taking more time and paying closer attention to detail. I try! I just really messed up today, I hope I can find it in me to continue on with what I do, and not quit. What was said to me today really hurt, and I am beginning to second guess myself. There wasn’t any positive and hasn’t been. I am sorry that I vent on here as much as I do, but this is the only place that I know of where everyone knows what it takes to be a good woodworker, and love what they do. I figured I could get some kind of support though, this place seems to be a pretty strong brotherhood and I appreciate that.
Don’t let competency get in the way, don’t get too set in the way you do things and overlook major and minor details. I don’t wish what I through today on anybody.

-- I wear sawdust for deodorant!

14 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


115166 posts in 2994 days

#1 posted 11-04-2009 03:27 AM

Hey Guy
It’s almost over (today) Start new again tomorrow . We have all had these kind of days and they suck. I try and think about people that had a much worse day . people who lost loved ones, people who are home less.
The list goes on and on. Just do the best you can we all miss up. Your boss should notice that your trying harder. Maybe start a little early before punching in and work a little after you’ve punched out. A good boss will notice extra effort. As a boss myself I know we have bad days and sometimes it’s brought on when our employees mess up. Hang in there I don’t know about your area but jobs are hard to find a lot of places. If you find it impossible to do this work correctly maybe your better suited for something else. But if this is a one time thing I’m sure a little extra effort will patch things up.

-- Custom furniture

View cabinetmaster's profile


10874 posts in 2975 days

#2 posted 11-04-2009 03:34 AM

Been there, done that. I know the feeling as I’ve been there myself. But take it one day at a time and hopefully it will get better. If not, hope that the economy cahnges soon and more jobs open up. Jim has some good ideas there.

-- Jerry--A man can never have enough tools or clamps

View WhittleMeThis's profile


125 posts in 2790 days

#3 posted 11-04-2009 03:46 AM

Use this as a time to reflect on your craft and think about those things that will improve yourself and your skills. We all have set back, but it is how we deal with set back that is important. Gather yourself and come back with greater determination.

Best of luck.

View Jbreth's profile


15 posts in 2812 days

#4 posted 11-04-2009 03:48 AM

I knew you guys would come back with some encouraging words, and I appreciate that. I will continue on and do my best! I just wished I knew what I did with that darn board stretcher:)

-- I wear sawdust for deodorant!

View PerveyorofSawdust's profile


16 posts in 2559 days

#5 posted 11-04-2009 04:06 AM

I am a production manager and a metal machinist by trade and a woodworker because i love it ,
I have found over the years with machinists it is never good to be overly critical of mistakes made by guys,every one makes them ,(me included .ive made some beauts!!)
you have to bring it to thier attention so they are aware of it ,but i just tell them its done, we will make it right and tommorrow we start again .
You are obviously a professional woodworker and good at what you do ,other wise you wouldnt be worrying or so affected by what he said to you. And i like guys with that attitude working for me.
i think he was overly harsh ,mistakes are bad but it can all be fixed ,materials can be used on ther jobs.
So.. tommorrow is another day , we will make it right and start again.
dont give up

-- Gordon,Sydney ,Australia..Metal for money..Sawdust for love!

View Julian's profile


880 posts in 2942 days

#6 posted 11-04-2009 04:18 AM

Bosses can suck sometimes. I feel your pain too as I find myself working for a less than desirable employer right now also. This economy has put me in a spot I wished I never would have to be in. Working for crappy companies that don’t respect me just so I can try and pay the bills.

-- Julian, Park Forest, IL

View GregD's profile


777 posts in 2553 days

#7 posted 11-04-2009 04:56 AM

Humans make mistakes. Its part of our charm. Some of us are especially charming this way; at times I am particularly charming this way.

Its good that you own what happened. Its good that you are letting yourself experience the crappy feelings. Its good that you’ve found an appropriate place to vent. And its good that you are determined to restore your motivation.

In a day, or a week, or a month, when the noise from today has quieted down enough so you can think clearly and objectively about the events, spend some quiet time considering what was going on that allowed you to make these mistakes, and what you could reasonably do on a routine basis at work to reduce the frequency of mistakes like this. Was it really complacency? Do you routinely go about your work day not paying attention to what you are doing? Or was it just something about that day? Maybe you have not yet developed and committed to habit a process that ensures you effectively review the details of an order. There are some tasks I choose to do exactly the same way each time I do them because the ritual makes it much less likely that I overlook something. And even then sometimes I overlook something. But the extra time I spend going through the ritual offset by the lower frequency of my goofs. Hopefully you can find at least a thing or two you can change about how you go about your work every day that will help reduce the frequency of these kinds of mistakes. And then commit yourself to making those changes you have the capacity to make.

Today you got yourself kicked in the teeth. Thankfully this is figuratively and not literally – that would be far worse. Nevertheless its gonna hurt for a while. But you can choose to make days like today less frequent in your future than they’ve been in the past.

-- Greg D.

View lew's profile


11261 posts in 3172 days

#8 posted 11-04-2009 04:59 AM

Sometimes we need to also walk a few steps in someone else’s shoes to understand why things happen they way they do. Your boss was maybe having as bad of a day as you and this was the “straw that broke the camels back” and he took it out on you. Not the right thing to do but stuff happens that way. Rise above his outburst and condescending manner. Do your best tomorrow. Show him you understand his criticisms and will work to be more careful and less complacent. As has been already mentioned, you certainly take your craft seriously or you wouldn’t be concerned about his statements. Cooler heads will prevail and you’ll get thru this.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View FFURNITURE's profile


21 posts in 3003 days

#9 posted 11-04-2009 05:03 AM


Mistakes happen b’cause of poor communication. Take it from me, I build mansions. What you need to do is pepper the boss with questions. The best thing is a sight visit, but in lieu of that, the boss is where it all ends. I have beat the crap out of people with questions. so much so, that they made me the boss.

Your building things for people’s lives, and if you put yourself in their shoes, then you can’t mess up.

Also: Take what you can from your boss, then move on. Nobody knows everything-how can you learn more with one person?

-- Clamps are like dollars in the bank, you NEVER can have too many!

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 2702 days

#10 posted 11-04-2009 05:43 AM

jbreth, Sounds like you’re beating yourself up as much as your boss did…...and that’s a good thing in a way. You’re aware of what happened and that you take responsibility for your own mistake. Let’s hope your boss will do the same and realize he didn’t solve a thing by just tearing you down. I’ve been on both sides of the table and it’s not easy for either. Hang in there and go to work with a good attitude and give it your best…...if that’s not good enough, then at least you know you did your very best.

-- John @

View oldwoodman's profile


137 posts in 2815 days

#11 posted 11-04-2009 06:30 AM


A few mistakes do not define who you are as a person. The fact that you are upset over the mistake you made shows how conscientious you are. Don’t let your boss’ statements get you down. As others have pointed out, we all make mistakes. Perhaps your boss has never heard the adage, “To err is human, to forgive is divine.”

As A1Jim said (and Scarlett O’Hara!), tomorrow is another day. Another opportunity to work hard, do your best, and prove your boss wrong! Good luck, and best wishes!!!

View EzJack's profile


450 posts in 2588 days

#12 posted 11-04-2009 06:57 AM

If the guy is right and you goofed up, take it and move on. Look at all the times you got it right. What’s that like 95% of the time.
Man, when I screw up I have to yell at myself. Then if I don’t agree it becomes a big shouting match. Sometimes I get so mad I have to get away from myself but no matter what I do I’m always there. I run down the street screaming but I can’t get away. Self employment sucks. No it doesn’t. Yes it does. No it does not. Yes it does. No. Yes. NO! YES! NO! NO! NO! NO! YES IT DDDDDDDDDDDDDDOOOOOOOOOOOOEEEEEEEEEESS

-- Ain't better or worse than any other woodpecker in the woods.

View studie's profile


618 posts in 2564 days

#13 posted 11-04-2009 09:34 AM

I never lie and I’m always right. It works for me and I have a pile of mistakes out back that can prove it! I was at lunch next to a historic remodel in my early years (my first as a forman) & heard 2 salesmen talking, the wiser said “every time you hear the word NO, you have to believe you have made progress! Concentrate, double check and then believe in yourself. Think about this, how big of a mistake is getting injured! But it’s the same kind of concentration, have confidence & don’t rush, we all make em but mistakes take twice the time. Don’t be too hard on yourself!

-- $tudie

View KnotWright's profile


252 posts in 2905 days

#14 posted 11-11-2009 09:32 PM

Another AMAZING tool to have in your workshop is the “Matababy” if you don’t have one of these you should really look into getting one. Or better yet, send your best helper or your boss to get one for you, insist on the original “Matababy” accept nothing less!

You ask… “what’s a Matababy?”

“What’s a Matababy? Nothing what’s a matta with you Baby?” :-)

-- James

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