Keeping the Left and Right

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Forum topic by azor posted 02-20-2011 08:10 PM 1095 views 0 times favorited 19 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View azor's profile


62 posts in 2863 days

02-20-2011 08:10 PM

Topic tags/keywords: humor question milling

Does anyone have trouble keeping straight project pieces for those projects that have left and right sides? I just discovered I unintentionally made two 60” long left side panels for the same armoire. This happened because I just wasn’t paying attention as I should have been. [Time to hit my head against the nearest wall]. So now I have an ugly dado 3” down from the top of the right inside of my veneered plywood [not on the veneered face]. Fortunately it is on the inside and will be hidden by coats hung in this amoire closet. A front face frame will cover the edge to hide it further. I am also thinking of making an insert of real wood [red oak in my case] as a fill. I think SWMBO may go along with that. Another approach would be add a 1/4” panel over that whole side to cover it up, but I am not committed to the expense of doing that yet. Any other ideas? Some days I think I should dump wood working and take up reading comic books.

[wood working in the school of stupid mistakes] Dick

-- It isn't as easy as the demos make it seem.

19 replies so far

View Scott Bryan's profile

Scott Bryan

27251 posts in 3242 days

#1 posted 02-20-2011 08:20 PM

Dick, I think all of us go through this at one time or another. I am just finishing up a barrister bookcase and each side has a dado so that the doors, which are supported by steel pins, can slide up to open up each case. Needless to say when I was cutting the dado in the sides of the case I forgot that they should be mirror images. I was able to put a 1/4” plug in the dado on the left sides and re-cut them in the correct position. It is noticeable (at least to me) but, like your armoire, the plugs are on the inside and will be covered.

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

View Loren's profile


8159 posts in 3068 days

#2 posted 02-20-2011 08:21 PM

I use the old cabinetmaker’s triangular marking system. I learned
it from a James Krenov book I think.

here’s an article about how it works:

View lilredweldingrod's profile


2495 posts in 2527 days

#3 posted 02-20-2011 08:51 PM

You are half way there. Make a matching pair. lol I’m sorry, I just could not resist. lol Been there-done that. Makes you want to build a boot on an arm to back up to and let it kick away. Rand

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 2404 days

#4 posted 02-20-2011 11:45 PM

Thats why I learned to mark my pieces and to use the cabinetmaker’s triangle that Loren mentioned. Have you thought about maybe a small shelf or maybe a necklace holder to fill that space or a necktie rack?

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View TheDane's profile


4935 posts in 3083 days

#5 posted 02-21-2011 12:22 AM

Yup … I have pulled that same trick. I also cut mortises on the wrong side of a 2 1/4” x 2 1/4” leg for a Mission-style table. That one really hurt.

After the leg trick, I started marking everything Left or Right, and Front or Rear (LF, LR, RF, RR), along with the cabinet maker’s triangle. My shop teacher says I over-do it, but anything I can do to keep from screwing up a project or avoid wasting material is worth the effort.


-- Gerry -- "I don't plan to ever really grow up ... I'm just going to learn how to act in public!"

View ocwoodworker's profile


209 posts in 2425 days

#6 posted 02-21-2011 12:29 AM

Just cut the left and right panels for a low boy entertainment center doors today. Red crayon is awesome!! I mark every edge detailing what it gets ie, “No cut’ ; ‘1/4” rabbit here’ ; L (left) ; R (right); T (top); B (bottom); I (in); O (out). My panels look like a story book by the time I have it finished.

-- I'd like to believe Murphy's Law haunts my woodshop, because if it's Karma it would mean I had something to do with it. - K.R.

View Sawkerf's profile


1730 posts in 2489 days

#7 posted 02-21-2011 12:30 AM

Well, I have never done that!!

For almost a month, now. – lol

-- Adversity doesn't build reveals it.

View wb8nbs's profile


162 posts in 2113 days

#8 posted 02-21-2011 01:31 AM

Get some of that fat chalk the kids use to draw on sidewalks and mark up your pieces.

-- The only difference between men and boys is the price of their toys.

View slimt's profile


111 posts in 2358 days

#9 posted 02-21-2011 01:43 AM

Well I thought only I did thing’s like this glad to see I’m not alone I will try the triangle idea.

View CharlieM1958's profile


16229 posts in 3639 days

#10 posted 02-21-2011 03:52 AM

There are only two kinds of woodworkers: Those who have done what you did, and those who lie a lot.

-- Charlie M. "Woodworking - patience = firewood"

View Gofor's profile


470 posts in 3207 days

#11 posted 02-21-2011 03:55 AM

I am in the mix here also. Use the fat sidewalk chalk. Triangles for panel glue ups. Just an x and a couple arrows for face frame stiles and rails. Always an arrow to the top of the finished piece. Additional arrow to the nearest side. For rail pieces, I usually also mark an “L” for left or “R” for right or both,as well as a “T” for top or “B” for bottom. Chalk marks can be on the face side or the back, your choice as long as you are consistent.

Although all the books tell you to mark the hidden side, I find it confusing as I picture the item in my mind from the outside, so I do mark the face side, It means I do have to be very particular in getting all of the chalk off before I finish (particularly in any grains and end grain pores), but I have found I make a lot less errors that way. I pay for my transgression by having to sometimes use a toothbrush to get the chalk out of the pores.

As to fixing the mistake, I have in the past glued in a filler strip. A little more time and probably not necessary, but usually it was readily available in the drop bin, so why not. As you can tell, I have been there before and made me feel better (not being in a production/profit mode).



-- Go

View Glen Peterson's profile

Glen Peterson

555 posts in 2477 days

#12 posted 02-21-2011 04:12 AM

I’ve certainly done it more than once and once was more than enough. Now I label, label, label, then double check. Like loren I use the triangle system to keep the sides top and bottom in proper alignment. I also use the x out/x up method. I recently made some frame and panel doors and I also lettered each of the mortices and tenons. When the parts were ready for planing, scraping, sanding, there were so many mark on them that it looked like a kid had scribbled on them, but it kept everything in order.

-- Glen

View Bernie's profile


416 posts in 2257 days

#13 posted 02-21-2011 04:35 AM

I don’t like to be called a liar… so I’ve done that…and now I mark everything… on both sides. I don’t use chalk, just a carpenter’s pencil. No harm in marking a face side because when it comes to finish sand, I sand in steps of 100 – 120 – 150 grit. I also mark up my boards with zig-zag lines all over the surface before each sanding step. That way I know I’ve completely sanded the surface. A #2 pencil will not sink into the pores and this 3 step process works great.

As for hiding your enthusiasm with cutting, when you fill your cut, make sure the fill piece is a bit larger then the whole (depth). That way you can trim it down and scrape the last bump and sand. If you can get the length and width perfect, sanding down the thickness will blend the piece into your work.

-- Bernie: It never gets hot or cold in New Hampshire, just seasonal!

View azor's profile


62 posts in 2863 days

#14 posted 02-21-2011 08:31 AM

Thanks for the great replies I have used triangles in the past, but not with all the applications covered in the article Loren referenced. I just had gotten out of the habit of using them. I did chalk mark my boards “left” and “right”, but that did not save me. I must be a hard case. So I will work more on the triangle method. As for the filler piece, I started out with a piece that was thicker than the depth of the dado, but planed it down to fit “before” I glued it in. It didn’t work out as I had hoped, but it is close. On the other hand, I’ve planed off some veneer by planing a filler piece too far on another project. Just cant seem to get things right, heh, heh. Had trouble using the plane [a #4 veritas with a blade that probably needs honing, I suspect], but that’s another post. Now where did I put those comic books?


-- It isn't as easy as the demos make it seem.

View SnowyRiver's profile


51452 posts in 2901 days

#15 posted 02-21-2011 04:54 PM

I think all of us get parts mixed up at times. I tend to put a small piece of masking tape on each part and label it sometimes with arrows. I will sometimes mark in light pencil too, but I dont like to do that since I have forgotten the mark during sanding and ended up sealing the wood then noticed the mark later. You can see in my gallery (steamer trunk) where I have tape on the sides of the box.

-- Wayne - Plymouth MN

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