All Replies on How do you hide your mistakes

  • Advertise with us
View Don W's profile

How do you hide your mistakes

by Don W
posted 11-15-2012 12:07 PM

1 2 next »
57 replies

57 replies so far

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2312 days

#1 posted 11-15-2012 12:41 PM

If a joint comes up too short, I’ve been known to shave a piece with matching grain and fill it in. if you leave it just a bit proud and sand it just right, sometimes it’s not too noticeable. However I’m not feeling too good about it.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2513 days

#2 posted 11-15-2012 12:45 PM

I made a foot rest for my wife’s desk. It was made from an end round of cedar cut locally and had been mostly air dried outside for a couple of years.
One night after I closed up the shop the crack elves stopped by and put cracks all over the thing so when I came in the next morning it looked like it had straight lines in it all over from the center out about 3/4” deep and up to 10” long.
I mixed up some epoxy, putting some black Krylon paint in the mix then applying it liberally to the cracks.
I then put a couple of 2” ratcheting cargo straps around the block and squooze it for all it was worth, closing the cracks up a bit.

Two days later I released the straps and the cracks were filled, tight and left a neat pattern with the black color.

Some sand paper applied liberally and with vigor and the foot stool was ready for Polyurethane!

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2274 days

#3 posted 11-15-2012 12:52 PM

I design everything 6” taller and 6” wider than I actually want it to be so the finished product after cutting off all my mistakes turns out well :)

Joking aside, I do “start over” a lot. I’ve been known to re-rip glue lines and start over. I also do the “wet sanding” trick.
Drilled that hole to start a mortise in the wrong side? Decorative plug with contrasting wood time!
Glue up warped a little? Let’s go to extreme measures to flatten it and add breadboard ends!
I picked up a really good tip from Charles Neil. Ever sanded right though your color when smoothing out finishes? I have many times. I touch the piece up with an airbrush and it comes out perfect again.

To date, I have never scrapped a project (although many should have been). I will got to great lengths to save something.


View Purrmaster's profile


915 posts in 2119 days

#4 posted 11-15-2012 12:52 PM

Sandpaper is my friend when trying to hide my (many) mistakes. I’ll usually try to sand out my screw ups.

View waho6o9's profile


8207 posts in 2602 days

#5 posted 11-15-2012 12:56 PM

Great thread Don.

I save saw dust from the current project and mix with glue when
needed to patch mess ups. Oops.

View Cosmicsniper's profile


2202 posts in 3184 days

#6 posted 11-15-2012 02:11 PM

I buy twice as much wood needed for any given job. Seriously.

The other day, I routed a bevel profile in a maple drawer frame. My router bearing slipped in to the panel groove on two of the four boards. I threw them out and rebuilt the whole drawer, this time cutting the panel groove AFTER doing the profile. Heck, it gave me a chance to “improve” on the door by widening the frame, which is something I really should have done anyway.

Sometimes it just pays to do things in the right order.

But if its a small gap, or a straight, uniform mistake (as opposed to a big gash in the board), then I will save it with glue/sawdust, wood shavings, or re-ripping.

-- jay,

View jap's profile


1251 posts in 2080 days

#7 posted 11-15-2012 02:19 PM

i never make any. ; )

-- Joel

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2274 days

#8 posted 11-15-2012 02:25 PM

Jay – good point. I do the same basically, but not necessarily the same wood. I always have a lot of secondary wood on hand. I tend to build a “replica” out of pine or poplar along side the actual piece. I also test all cuts with a router or a dado in a piece of secondary wood that has the exact same dimensions as the final piece does.

I do buy extra amounts of the primary wood (about 50% more than I need). This is important for fixing big mistakes. I ruined a table top when the bearing came off on my cove bit and I cut a 2” gouge in the top. I also like to test finishes on the same wood I am using. The good thing is the projects without big mistakes leave a lot of leftover. So the next time I need to load up and the same species, I’ll only need to get 20% or so more than I need.


View HorizontalMike's profile


7758 posts in 2940 days

#9 posted 11-15-2012 02:26 PM

I misplaced two floating tenon mortises by 1/4in. (I had measured from the wrong side of the leg/stile). I ended up cutting two more mortises in that same piece. They overlapped by less than 1/64in so I sanded to fit.

I cut the “mistake” mortise floating tenons short, so they would fill the errant mortise holes and be flush. When I did my glue-up, just this past week, I made sure to treat those “fixed” M&Ts with glue as I clamped and glued the entire project. These “mistake” mortises were completely hidden by the matching 3/4in rails and are as strong as if I had not made this mistake in the first place. Only I know they are there.

Sure crossed my lucky stars on that one… 8-)

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 2995 days

#10 posted 11-15-2012 02:31 PM

If you are left with breakout in melamine panels, wipe a bit of the same coloured paint into it. Does a great job of masking the chip.

View carguy460's profile


802 posts in 2361 days

#11 posted 11-15-2012 02:36 PM

I’m learning quite a bit from this thread, thanks Don!

I hide my mistakes in the fireplace…works like a charm!

-- Jason K

View Don W's profile

Don W

18754 posts in 2593 days

#12 posted 11-15-2012 02:41 PM

that’s funny Jason, I threw a hardwood clamp in the woodstove this morning. I’ve got a firewood recycling program that works both ways sometimes. The woodstove does hide the mistakes well.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View whitebeast88's profile


4128 posts in 2216 days

#13 posted 11-15-2012 10:14 PM

my mistakes are so many i can’t hide them.

-- Marty.Athens,AL

View Tennessee's profile


2873 posts in 2540 days

#14 posted 11-15-2012 10:19 PM

Dark stain…...

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

View 404 - Not Found's profile

404 - Not Found

2544 posts in 2995 days

#15 posted 11-15-2012 10:22 PM

Iron on veneer can add back the 0.5mm you didn’t mean to take off.

View Mark Smith's profile

Mark Smith

509 posts in 2066 days

#16 posted 11-15-2012 10:24 PM

I made a kitchen island for a relative a few weeks ago and it was a large heavy item. I made some mistakes some of which I was able to fix with putty. And even though the mistakes bothered me, for the most part they are things nobody will ever notice. I have a entertainment center in my house that I bought for $2500 about ten years ago. Came from a furniture store. It sat in my livingroom with me staring at it with the TV on it for years. One day I looked at one of the cabinet doors and noticed it was out of alignment. Then I started looking closer and found several defects in workmanship that I hadn’t even noticed for years. Had I built it myself I would have seen the problems right away and probably fixed. But even though it’s right there in front of my recliner it took me years to see the issues.

Here’s another about something I built. I built a dresser and chest of drawers for my bedroom in 1991. I put brass drawer handles that had oak grips on the them. I moved three times over the years and one day probably around 2005 or so, I looked at my dresser and noticed the drawer handles didn’t match. Most of them were shiny brass, but several of the drawer handles were antique brass. Even the oak on the antique brass handles had a little bit of a darker stain on them. How in the world did I go 14 years and have these in three different bedrooms without even noticing that? Once I noticed it it stood out like a sore thumb, but for 14 years I never saw it.

View patron's profile


13607 posts in 3367 days

#17 posted 11-15-2012 10:30 PM

i just blame whoever i stole … er borowed the idea from lol

then find a way to fix it

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

View FreddyS's profile


211 posts in 2799 days

#18 posted 11-15-2012 11:25 PM

“I noticed a glue line… some titebond… sanded” hehee, just made the same thing last week.

Also sand paper is my friend

And as a fast fix, I have changed building plans a little in the middle of a project to accommodate for mistakes, unless I tell, nobody notices ;)

-- Learning one thing at a time

View Woodknack's profile


11792 posts in 2406 days

#19 posted 11-15-2012 11:34 PM

I routed a mortise too long in mahogany and filled it with a piece of spanish cedar that looked identical. You can’t even see it unless you look hard. On a piece of maple I routed out a mortise and later changed my mind so I filled it with walnut and it looked intentional, pretty good actually.

-- Rick M,

View AlanBienlein's profile


159 posts in 2700 days

#20 posted 11-15-2012 11:46 PM

I don’t call them mistakes. I call them design changes!

Besides it’s only a mistake if you can’t fix it.

View Gerald Thompson's profile

Gerald Thompson

974 posts in 2260 days

#21 posted 11-16-2012 12:08 AM

It’s Duct Tape for me. I just wish they had more colors.

-- Jerry

View woodworker59's profile


560 posts in 2227 days

#22 posted 11-16-2012 01:04 AM

When I first started cutting my dovetails, I would glue on new pins or tails as needed that were 1/8” over sized so that I could have another chance to size them to fit properly. once Glued together they wont fall out and nobody knows… until now..
I have also been known to make up a batch of wood glue and sawdust putty to fill in the imperfections.. thankfully most of those days are in the past..
I found that the biggest mistake I was making was moving to fast.. once I slowed down, the mistakes pretty much stopped happening.. I made a big sign to hang in my shop that read:
“I AM NOT IN A HURRY” ... took a little time but it worked.. papa

“I don’t have to be faster than the lion, just a little faster than the slowest Antelope.”

-- Papa...

View a1Jim's profile


117118 posts in 3603 days

#23 posted 11-16-2012 01:54 AM

One of many ways of fixing mistakes is to to add an inlay where there are defects, such as a table top I made that after sanding I found an inclusion in the corner and decided to add a leaf design inlay to cover it up , to give table top balance I put one in every corner.

-- wood crafting & woodworking classes

View steve6678's profile


438 posts in 2086 days

#24 posted 11-16-2012 04:23 AM

recently I was making 12/4 Hard Maple bed posts.
I ran the block of wood through the jointer, then planed, then cut into two pieces, as I started ripping into two, I had to raise the TS blade gradually in 1/2” increments. I started and ran it through, but on the wrong side of layout…The one post had a saw kerf in it 1/2” – 3/4” deep on a 3”x3” post, I couldn’t trash the piece I spent so much time milling, so I added; glued in a spline of Maple close enough to match and sanded it. It look’s good, can hardly see it, and it’s at the back of the headboard facing the wall.

-- Steve - Dust sucks!

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3134 days

#25 posted 11-16-2012 04:35 AM

One of the things I like about turning. Nasty catch? No problem. That vase is now going to be a cup :)

-- There is little that is simple when it comes to making a simple box.

View oldnovice's profile


6898 posts in 3393 days

#26 posted 11-16-2012 06:45 AM

Is one my my hiding examples

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View Sergio's profile


470 posts in 2718 days

#27 posted 11-16-2012 11:32 AM

sealer and fine dust from your wood being worked. It makes a nice paste.. Noticeable to the most picky people but usually not for the “normal” users…

-- - Greetings from Brazil - --

View Gene Howe's profile

Gene Howe

10535 posts in 3454 days

#28 posted 11-16-2012 12:59 PM

AlanBienlein beat me to it.

-- Gene 'The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.' G. K. Chesterton

View 489tad's profile


3370 posts in 3037 days

#29 posted 11-16-2012 01:59 PM

All depends if you can sell it or not. “Honey there’s nothing wrong with the chair, the floor not level”. “If the table top was flat the spill would not make it to the floor and the dog would have nothing to do”

-- Dan, Naperville IL, I.G.N.

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2395 days

#30 posted 11-16-2012 02:03 PM

I hide my 5,000 mistakes by trying to really accentuate the 1 thing I did right. Circle the good-fitting joint in a sharpie or something.

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 3263 days

#31 posted 11-16-2012 02:28 PM

When I started carving gunstocks, I showed one I had just finished to a local gunsmith who had been carving stocks from scratch for 50 years. I pointed out the few mistakes I’d made and he told me not to worry about them. He said: “A craftsman strives for perfection, but a perfect project isn’t going to happen very often.” “A true professional fixes mistakes so only the person who made the mistake can see it.”

The next gunstock I carved was from Mesquite and cracks are not a defect, so I had to fill the cracks and keep carving. Instead of trying to hide the crack with sawdust and glue, I filled it with black epoxy and made it a feature. Turned out to be beautiful. I’d also started practicing on some stocks I carved from wood I considered defective and not suitable for a customer. I used them to have some pieces of my work to show potential customers. Turns out I sold every one of them because the added character of the defect made the stock even more beautiful.

-- Hal, Tennessee

View hoosier0311's profile


706 posts in 2051 days

#32 posted 11-16-2012 02:37 PM

I dunno, never made a mistake…........Ouch! why did my pants just burst into flames?

-- atta boy Clarence!

View Don W's profile

Don W

18754 posts in 2593 days

#33 posted 11-16-2012 02:45 PM

My first stock I built and decided to checker didn’t come out all that great the first try. I thought I ruined the stock checkering the grip. But a “design change” prevailed. I hollowed out the checkering, embedded some black beauty in epoxy and had my first target stock.

-- - Collecting is an investment in the past, and the future.

View rance's profile


4258 posts in 3186 days

#34 posted 11-16-2012 03:13 PM

I flaunt it. I inlay the loudest, most contrasting piece of wood and call it an accent. A spanish accent at that.

-- Backer boards, stop blocks, build oversized, and never buy a hand plane--

View CharlesNeil's profile


2410 posts in 3896 days

#35 posted 11-16-2012 06:33 PM

Mistakes, what mistakes, I have had inclusions, exclusions and design changes, but never a mistake, ( yea right) actually I have a pretty good approach, I sell them :) :) :)

View TexCoats's profile


21 posts in 3324 days

#36 posted 11-16-2012 06:45 PM

The best way is not to point them out. We all make mistakes, we hide them, cut them out, replace parts, but MOST folks will still be in awe of you for having done ANYTHING.

Do you best, and let the devil take the hindmost.

-- A strange game. The only winning move is not to play -- Joshua in War Games

View HorizontalMike's profile


7758 posts in 2940 days

#37 posted 11-16-2012 07:06 PM

We are all just “artisans” and all those things are supposed to be that way…


-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View Mosquito's profile


9354 posts in 2318 days

#38 posted 11-16-2012 07:07 PM

call it artistic liberties?

-- Mos - Twin Cities, MN - -

View BinghamtonEd's profile


2298 posts in 2395 days

#39 posted 11-16-2012 07:28 PM

MOST folks will still be in awe of you for having done ANYTHING.

I’m going to be making a play kitchen for our friends’ son, and my wife told me “You don’t need to go overboard. It doesn’t have to be perfect. What you consider as ‘good enough’ is a level of work that most people don’t know exists.” I think that applies everywhere, except between fellow lumberjocks. If she could see some of the stuff people post on here, she’d say “Wow, why can’t you make that?”

-- - The mightiest oak in the forest is just a little nut that held its ground.

View chrisstef's profile


17426 posts in 3032 days

#40 posted 11-16-2012 07:42 PM

My wife dresses me, makes me shave, wear deodorant and leave my work boots at home … ohh wait … you were asking how I hide MY mistakes. Sorry. Carry on.

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View jusfine's profile


2422 posts in 2951 days

#41 posted 11-16-2012 07:49 PM

Don, the simplest way for me to hide mine is to not let anyone in my shop, my mistakes are like kangaroos, they abound everywhere…

-- Randy "You are judged as much by the questions you ask as the answers you give..."

View Sergio's profile


470 posts in 2718 days

#42 posted 11-16-2012 08:34 PM

I begin to feel better now…. Someone else actually make mistakes !!! And no one sees it??? It is a philosophical discussion.

-- - Greetings from Brazil - --

View SCOTSMAN's profile


5849 posts in 3611 days

#43 posted 11-16-2012 08:40 PM

What mistakes?
Now please don’t assume that perfect little I, make mistakes. At least none that can’t be refixed with a dozen or so six inch nails.LOL Seriously I lear how to fix mistakes from lot’s of reading and tips from my betters on this site for example have fun and work it out it is nearly always doable/savable.Alistait see cant even type my name correctly LOL Alistair

-- excuse my typing as I have a form of parkinsons disease

View HorizontalMike's profile


7758 posts in 2940 days

#44 posted 11-16-2012 10:14 PM

WHAT!? You don’t like my artist’s rendition? Huh…

Whut artist skul did yew go tu?

-- HorizontalMike -- "Woodpeckers understand..."

View oldnovice's profile


6898 posts in 3393 days

#45 posted 11-17-2012 04:37 AM


You are going to build a play kitchen? I did that for my daughter when she was about 4 and now she has a son 6 years old and a daughter 3 years old! Theses are fun things to build to let your imagination and inginuity go with abandon! LED burners, cake pan sinks, oven door with plex windows and red LED heater ….. etc.!

Have fun!

-- "I never met a board I didn't like!"

View Brian516's profile


13 posts in 2367 days

#46 posted 11-17-2012 06:18 AM

In my last project, I accidentally drilled a hole where I definitely did not want one. So I turned a dowel on the lathe with the grain direction and size to match… Can hardly even notice now!

-- Brian

View bladedust's profile


206 posts in 2292 days

#47 posted 11-17-2012 06:36 AM

I’ve made mistakes when fixing the mistakes that are fixing the original mistake, then I wonder what other mistake I’ll make. It sure makes for an interesting hobby, maybe one day I’ll learn from my mistakes.

-- ok, is it cut once measure twice, cut twice measure once???? I know....I'll just keep cutting until it's long enough.

View EPJartisan's profile


1118 posts in 3151 days

#48 posted 11-18-2012 08:49 PM

mistakes come in two forms for me.. it is either an opportunity for a change.. I am really good at turning lemons into margaritas …. or it means I am doing the wrong thing that day and I go sculpt or draw for a while.

Here is my last that made me really cry, walk away, but later so happy I made the mistake.

I put my table part on the TS sled to cut out a groove for the table’s cross brace…and then set the fence 1.5” incorrectly. I saw what I did, recalled the hours of work and I cried… and then got really really angry… but a few days later I decided to inlay Macassar Ebony strips into the cut groove, and since I started with an inlay.. I just expanded the design into something so much greater than before. I had t duplicate the mistake 7 more times on each side of each leg… and added a flower like design to cover an other huge bubble mistake I made earlier. SO one mistake fixed another and then made the whole thing awesome sauce.

-- " 'Truth' is like a beautiful flower, unique to each plant and to the season it blossoms ... 'Fact' is the root and leaf, allowing the plant grow and bloom again."

View Arlin Eastman's profile

Arlin Eastman

4232 posts in 2587 days

#49 posted 11-18-2012 08:52 PM


First I have to remember if I made a mistake, then blame it on my wife. lol


-- It is always the right time, to do the right thing.

View Blackie_'s profile


4883 posts in 2538 days

#50 posted 11-18-2012 09:08 PM

I’m favored to used Gorilla white wood glue over titebond it’s been reliable for me thus far, what I’ve done in the past is make a paste on wax paper using the white glue alone with the sawdust from the wood or project that I am working on but I’ve found this most all the time turns way darker then I’d like it to so what I’ve found to work best for me is to squeeze in the crack a line of glue wiping off the excess then poring on top of the glue the saw dust from the wood I’m working on and rubbing it into the crack on top of the glue this forms a bond and doesn’t change color then sand smooth.

-- Randy - If I'm not on LJ's then I'm making Saw Dust. Please feel free to visit my store location at

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

1 2 next »
57 replies

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics