When the pressure's on - things I've learned to improve my production.

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Forum topic by pashley posted 12-19-2009 04:04 PM 1181 views 0 times favorited 5 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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1044 posts in 3955 days

12-19-2009 04:04 PM

Some of you may recall I was featured in the Rochester newspaper as a local artist; if not, see the article here.

Well, I was inundated with orders – all for Christmas of course. The orders I like; the deadline I don’t. But, I was up for the challenge.

As of this writing, I still have two left to do – but I wanted to share a couple of things I learned that can maybe help other guys out there, not just in a pressure situation, but in just plain old woodworking.

Avoid mistakes at all costs. Pretty obvious, but consider that you only really have two choices with a screw-up – recut the piece (if it’s not already glued in), or try to make the mistake look ok. If you have to re-cut a new piece, you obviously lose time, though you can probably use the piece on some other project. However, if the piece is glued in, you can try to somehow get that piece out, or try to cover up the mistake. It’s usually impossible to get the piece out, because you’ll damage whatever the piece was glued to, and then you’ve screwed up the whole project. Ouch. The lesson – take your time and do it right the first time, because if you don’t, you’ll either was time (and maybe material), or you’ll be trying to cover up or fix a mistake that in all likelihood will still be visible (plus all the time wasted for doing that!). Here’s an example. I was finishing up a clock, and drilling the screw holes for the screws that would hold the back door on. They are brass screws, because I think they look better. Well, I was trying to hurry, and cut a corner by not drilling the pilot hole the right size. What ended up happening was I snapped off the damn screw IN THE CLOCK CARCASE! Disaster! Eventually, I figured out a way to get it out – filing down the remaining shaft flat, and drilling out the shaft with a larger drill bit. Then I had to but in a hardwood dowel to fit the larger hole now to accept a new screw – which I couldn’t make “invisible”. It wasn’t a big deal since it was inside the clock and you wouldn’t see it with door on – but it’s an example of how taking 5 minutes to do the stupid pilot hole right would have not only saved me the time and frustration of getting the stud out, but also the imperfection of the dowel I had to put in. Lesson learned!

Cut many pieces the same size all at once This is crucial if you need to have the same exact size pieces. For example, the top and bottom of my clock carcases have to be the exact same size, or I wind up with alignment problems. Cutting them at the same time saves making that mistake. This also saves a lot of time with re-setting up saws, jigs, etc.

Take your time. Hurrying up will lead to screw ups, and probably accidents. There are ways in incorporate efficiencies and save time too. If you’re making a run of several pieces, cut the same pieces all at once, while the saw, drill press, bandsaw, or jig is set up. That also increases accuracy. Personally, I’m considering having my lumber guy milling the lumber for me, so all I have to do is pick up the dimensioned lumber and begin breaking it down to size. I spend quite a bit of time and energy just milling down raw stock to size; he doesn’t charge much for doing it, so I think I might try having him do it. This will let me put more time into the places that really count – taking time with assembly and finishing.

Hope this helps you!

-- Have a blessed day!

5 replies so far

View westside's profile


77 posts in 3353 days

#1 posted 12-19-2009 04:07 PM

Great advice Pashley! Glad to hear about your orders. I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a very busy (filling orders that is) 2010.

sincerely, Rich

View WhittleMeThis's profile


125 posts in 3610 days

#2 posted 12-19-2009 04:45 PM

Sound advice, I have my lumber guy mill my lumber and it is a great time saver (3 sides), the only draw back is that I often end up with more waste as the boards seems to get slight twist/warps while they are waiting to be processed and at 3/4 I don’t have a lot of room to flatten boards to 3/4.

You are not alone in the mistakes while rushing category. Recently I was rushing to install a face frame and was cutting biscuit slots. While cutting a slot I pulled the tool away once the bottom of the slot was cut to move to the next cut, one problem the blade had not fully retracted and I cut through the side of the cabinet carcass. Luckily, it was to the inside of the cabinet which would be covered by drawers and I made a near invisible repair. But the lost time and near heart attack was not worth the rush.

View Russel's profile


2199 posts in 4176 days

#3 posted 12-19-2009 05:04 PM

Some simple advice like “take your time and pay attention” is the best advice. It’s never too soon to hear it again. Thanks for posting this because I’m sure there are more than me that need to hear it.

-- Working at Woodworking

View BTKS's profile


1989 posts in 3702 days

#4 posted 12-19-2009 10:17 PM

Thanks for the reminder and sound advice.

-- "Man's ingenuity has outrun his intelligence" (Joseph Wood Krutch)

View huff's profile


2828 posts in 3522 days

#5 posted 12-20-2009 03:29 PM

Good advice! I’ve learned there are only two times when we hurry….............Just before we make a mistake….....A just after we make a mistake. lol. That’s how it works for me. I get in a hurry and I will make a mistake and then I hurry to try to correct if before someone notices!.

-- John @

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