Measure Twice, Cut once. No. Really

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Blog entry by Woodbutchery posted 01-12-2009 05:58 AM 1065 reads 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

And so we have another version of why I refer to myself as woodbutchery.

So, I’m finishing up the bottom of a 6 panel box and I’m reminded that I need to repair the bottom portion of the attic stair. The wood has split on the bottom third of the sides, and it makes the two sections very loose.

So, looking at the ladder and saying to myself, “How hard can it be?”, I start designing on the fly.

Those of you who are trying to wave me off, flag me down, or signal to stay on base … too late.

So I measure. I re measure, then I start making cuts. Then I set up the dado blades. Then I measure the angle. But I measure it wrong. So I see this REALLY steep angle and yet I figure I’ve measured and remeasured the angle, but I DIN’T REALLY measure the angle, I just thought I had. I get through the first cut and … WOW! THAT’S THE WRONG ANGLE!

More calculations, more calculations, scratching of bald head, more calculations!. Oh! It’s THAT angle.

Re cut a piece of board, cut a scrap piece to make sure I’m at the right angle (wait! Didn’t I learn to do that a long time ago? I’ve got scrap, why not use it?), and this time both pieces come out just like they’re supposed to.

Now it’s measure measure measure measure Hey! Look! A piece of scrap! I’ll use that to measure the depth and width of the dado! dado dado dado turn off saw.

It fits fine. Depth is good. Width is good. Life is good. Let’s go ahead and cut those dados.

Measure measure measure measure set up angle good good good measure and start cutting the dados.

At this point, one of the things that those of you who HAVE buiilt ladders before will know is that you have to be careful to MIRROR the dados, not PARALLELL them. In this case, not only do I parallell them, but I parallell them on the wrong side of the wood.

measure measure measure cut measure get the dados mirrored. There’s a little difference in one of the steps so I use a little utching and get the step in place. drill screw drill screw drill drill drill screw…. and I’m ready to put the finishing screw in the last step and I notice that the red oak has split right down the middle of the squared end that is supposed to receive the hardware to join the bottom part of the ladder to the top.

8’ piece of red oak – $15. extra 4’ piece of red oak – scrap. Time spent learning the valuable lesson of not desigining on the fly and paying attention to what you’re doing – 2 hours.

There was frustration, but I look at this as a learning experience.

I’ll probably go get some white pine and try this again in a day or so. For now, a nice swim and a glass of 15 year old scotch help put things in perspective.

-- Making scrap with zen-like precision - Woodbutchery

3 comments so far

View Karson's profile


35111 posts in 4364 days

#1 posted 01-12-2009 06:15 AM

Had a great laugh. But only because I’ve been there before.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Southern Delaware soon moving to Virginia †

View lazyfiremaninTN's profile


528 posts in 3916 days

#2 posted 01-12-2009 07:08 AM

Been there, done that, got the T-shirt, and cut the wrong size rags…

-- Adrian ..... The 11th Commandment...."Thou Shalt Not Buy A Wobble Dado"

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27250 posts in 3785 days

#3 posted 01-12-2009 01:16 PM

I thought I was the only one who did things like that. :) I have often said we learn more from out “mistakes” than we do our successes. Thanks for the post.

-- Challenges are what make life interesting; overcoming them is what makes life meaningful- Joshua Marine

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