Turning mistakes into opportunities.

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Blog entry by pashley posted 11-14-2009 03:54 PM 1035 reads 0 times favorited 5 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Sometimes “mistakes” can actually be opportunities in disguise.

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.

In my latest project posting “I had Twins!” I turned would could have been a disaster into a chance to get really creative.

Take a look at this picture – especially the shot of the back of the clock:


Look at the sides of the door. You’ll see the back door, which is quilted maple, a thin sliver of Paduak, and then more maple. It’s a nice visual interest; otherwise, it would have been just plain maple on maple.

It wasn’t intended that way! Here’s the back-story:

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.

-- Have a blessed day!

5 comments so far

View lumberdog's profile


245 posts in 3237 days

#1 posted 11-14-2009 04:08 PM

My father who was a carpenter and a cabinetmaker, used to say that a one of the talents of a good craftsman,was being able to turn a mistake into part of the design so well that nobody would know that it was a mistake to start with. It looks like you accomplished this. Great job.

-- Lumberdog.. Morley, Michigan

View scrappy's profile


3506 posts in 3400 days

#2 posted 11-14-2009 04:34 PM

I knoiw all about doing that. On ScrappysSquirts first box.

I was helping her and I cut the panel for the top too small. That is why there is a piece of Bacote trim all around the edge of the lid. haha

I call those things ” Mid process design changes”

It is great that you got them redesigned into the finished piece. It did add a lot of visual interest to an all ready fantastic pair of clocks.

Keep up the great work.


-- Scrap Wood's the best...the projects are smaller, and so is the mess!

View Karson's profile


35111 posts in 4370 days

#3 posted 11-14-2009 05:36 PM

I’ve had a Duh moment also. I was making a pulpit and I put the holes for the shelves on the outside of the side and not on the inside.

What to do. I inserted a racing stripe piece of walnut down the outside and I left it proud of the surface so that it was not hidden but became an accent stripe,.

-- 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 a1Jim's profile


117063 posts in 3547 days

#4 posted 11-14-2009 07:06 PM

Great save very nice clocks

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View OhValleyWoodandWool's profile


970 posts in 3090 days

#5 posted 11-16-2009 11:22 PM

Very nices clocks and great save!


-- "All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then Success is sure." Mark Twain

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