We all screw stuff up from time to time. Some of us do it more often than others. In Blue Collar Woodworking Episode #12 I show how I cut half the pins off when I was dovetailing the sides of the “Ultimate Tool Cabinet”. How on earth did I let that happen? This is 100 year old white oak!
I’ve messed up my share of dovetails… and box joints… and dados, and, well, you name it! Sometimes I feel like chucking a tool across the shop and getting a job at McDonalds. That gets me thinking about a cheeseburger, which calms me down, and then I think of another MacDonald… Tommy MacDonald.
Back before he was a PBS sensation, way back when he was still calling himself “T-Chisel” (a nickname that still makes me cringe) he did a series of podcasts. If you’ve never watched “Tommy Mac, the early years”, you should get a bowl of popcorn, take a week off from work, and have yourself a podcast marathon, because you will learn a lot from those videos. Anyway, I watched something like 30 hours of the guy building a Bombay Secretary. It was a massive project, challenging all of his carefully honed skills. And he screwed it up, BIG TIME! You’ll have to watch to see what I mean, but he was not happy about it. Countless hours of work and a lot of mahogany was wasted.
Of course, his screw-up looked better than some of my finest work. And he was able to redo the offending part of the project the proper way. But it was a screw-up on a massive scale, and it made me feel good to watch it. No, not because I like to see someone fail, but because I like to be reminded that the finest woodworkers still make big mistakes. Guys who are a lot more skilled than I am still have moments when they feel like going all Incredible Hulk with their shirts and smashing the table saw.
Tommy MacDonald kept his cool. He smashed half the project, but in the end was able to rebuild it and it looked great. So the next time you cut a board too short, or butcher a set of dovetails, or feel like you can’t even get a butt joint right, remember that somewhere out there, probably at that very moment, countless other woodworkers are having the same problems. And if they can work through it without karate chopping the band saw in two, so can you!
Stumpy Nubs is the host of “Blue Collar Woodworking” – the best woodworking show since wood was invented. New Episodes on Wednesdays at Stumpynubs.com.
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