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Forum topic by rockindavan posted 05-17-2012 01:40 AM 2148 views 0 times favorited 25 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View rockindavan's profile


299 posts in 2665 days

05-17-2012 01:40 AM

I was wondering what people do after a somewhat disastrous mistake. I try to take every precaution to prevent any mistakes in a project, but one or two seem to creep up in the most unexpected ways. I’d say 90% are fixable without having to start over with a part, but it always seems to wreak havoc on any progress.

Something I can’t seem to help to do is fix it immediately, when I’m not in the right frame of mind, occasionally making it worse. What is your mistake protocol?

25 replies so far

View David Craig's profile

David Craig

2137 posts in 3138 days

#1 posted 05-17-2012 01:53 AM

My process is multi-step, it goes something like this -

1. Panic

2. Think of some obscenely complicated and ridiculous way to fix it.

3. Slap myself in the face and say “Don’t be an idiot, you will only make it worse.”

4. Go upstairs and fume

Repeat steps 1-4 until I don’t panic when I look at the mistake. Then I can move on to step 5.

5. Look at the problem rationally. If the part is broken, are all the pieces available to glue it back together seamlessly? If the problem is a miscut, can the measurements be adjusted and still produce a good looking project? If the problem is a disfiguration, will a patch need to be applied?

6. Go to this site and perform searches to see how other members had handled similar problems.

7. Perform the fix and move on.

In initially forgot a couple steps…

8. Contact the member who provided the fix and thank them for the inspiration and for posting their own experience.

9. Post the fix, if I figured it out myself.


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

View jacob34's profile


465 posts in 2293 days

#2 posted 05-17-2012 02:09 AM

luckily or not I am young in my wood working life and hate to follow directions so I start with an idea and process and it evolves as I go ere go my mistakes more often than not are just redesigns. On the rare occasions that I cannot redesign I either take a breath and remove myself from the project until I can decide where to go with it or I cuss a lot and push through the latter tends to lead to a determination that makes me push through and work it out.

-- so a bear and a rabbit are sitting on a log

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2516 days

#3 posted 05-17-2012 02:14 AM

If I ain’t bleeding it ain’t really a mistake, just a “value Added” feature.

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

View jacob34's profile


465 posts in 2293 days

#4 posted 05-17-2012 02:20 AM

mistakes are learning experiences we did not plan for and we should thank our projects for them. I thank some of my projects a lot.

-- so a bear and a rabbit are sitting on a log

View grizzman's profile


7836 posts in 3332 days

#5 posted 05-17-2012 02:21 AM

i have a really nice 15 inch delta planner that will take a really tall piece of wood through it…now, use your imagination …...or…i have my framing hammer that hangs close to my assemble area….....again, use your imagination….....or three….....i sing a Shirley temple song, smile, count to 10, fix it and move on….i hope this helped….grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

View Gabe C.'s profile

Gabe C.

288 posts in 2370 days

#6 posted 05-17-2012 02:23 AM

Mistakes? I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.

Seriously though, I think I learn more from mistakes than anything else…because I tend to remember them more than the easy lessons.

And in woodworking, it tends to involve setting up my table saw and planer…again (small shop space, lots of tool shuffling) Something a carpenter on a job told me once, is that if you aren’t making mistakes, you aren’t working hard enough. Take that as you will…I like (try) to work smarter, not harder.

-- If I could just get this whole "Time/Money" problem figured out...

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2871 days

#7 posted 05-17-2012 02:32 AM

I don’t think I’ve ever built anything without some kind of mistake during the project.
I have found that, with skill, you do not get much better at not making mistakes, only better at hiding those mistakes.
If the mistake is too major to be hidden, I have a wood heater. I call major mistakes fancy firewood.


View canadianchips's profile


2602 posts in 3026 days

#8 posted 05-17-2012 02:46 AM

The fun in being a woodworking is first not calling it a “mistake” it is only a minor “setback”.
If every house was perfectly square and everything went perfect….....ANYBODY could do it ! That is why we take pride in being a woodworker .
How I deal with days that have “setbacks”, I go home, I have to be in the right frame of mind. When I am in that creative mindset, it seems everything just flows together.

-- "My mission in life - make everyone smile !"

View rockindavan's profile


299 posts in 2665 days

#9 posted 05-17-2012 03:05 AM

I “welcome” mistakes, kind-of. We learn after everyone, and in the future you know where potential mistakes can happen, and how to fix them if they do. But some are almost impossible to foresee. I remember, very vividly, one particular incident. I was running my workbench top through the wide belt. I got the bottom flattened out then flipped it over to sand the top. I didn’t touch any settings, and as it started to feed it took at least 1/4” deep bite out of it. I nearly passed out from the whirlwind of awful feelings. In the end the top was still 3 3/8 thick, but was still an unpleasant experience.

Theres nothing like that eerie feeling when a project is going nearly perfect, especially when you are doing something new, and you can’t help but to think that the mistake troll is waiting for you to let your guard down.

View jeepturner's profile


939 posts in 2821 days

#10 posted 05-17-2012 03:07 AM

Lets see,, after the biggest mistake in my life I went on the honeymoon.
NO that’s a joke, well maybe not for the first wife, but yeah it’s just a joke.

I will usually shut everything down and leave the shop. Most things aren’t that big of a deal and I can move past them with out much of an impact at all. If I make a mistake that triggers an emotional response, then it is time to leave. I will come back at a later time, with a fresh outlook and I am much more apt to make good choices when I am not upset.

-- Mel,

View LeeinEdmonton's profile


254 posts in 3610 days

#11 posted 05-17-2012 03:13 AM

If your working from plans make certain that the mistake is not in the plans. After a couple of mistakes caused by faulty plans I now check every dimension in a set of plans BEFORE I even think of starting on the project. If it is a project that you might make again make certain to enter the corrections on the plans.


-- Lee

View RibsBrisket4me's profile


1554 posts in 2534 days

#12 posted 05-17-2012 03:18 AM

In my day job, in vascular surgery, if I make a mistake, serious bad juju can happen fast.

In woodworking, if I make a mistake on a project….it’s just a piece of wood and I don’t care.

Just made a huge mistake on a bench I was making. Who cares, I’ll cut a new top this weekend.

I do this for relaxation. As long as I have 10 fingers, there is no mistake that can upset me in the shop. I’ll just learn from it.

View William's profile


9949 posts in 2871 days

#13 posted 05-17-2012 03:26 AM

Canadianchips, you said,
The fun in being a woodworking is first not calling it a “mistake” it is only a minor “setback”.

I like calling them “design changes”
All you gotta do is say, yea, I meant to do that.


View MontanaBob's profile


831 posts in 2713 days

#14 posted 05-17-2012 03:28 AM

If you look at my project page…..I make bird houses out of them…..LOL…My neighbor says when I tell him of a mistake that I had made…..(only you and I know)...but that is one expensive bird house….Just think how boring this woodworking would be it we didn’t screw it up once in awhile….keeps the mind sharp, like chess in a way thinking six moves ahead…...

View oldnovice's profile


6904 posts in 3397 days

#15 posted 05-17-2012 03:38 AM

Mistakes are part of this pastime … if you’re professional you learn to “fix” them. If you do this for fun, then part of the “fun” is working around mistakes.

I have been woodworking on/off for nearly 40 years as a hobby. I still make mistakes … some are:

1. I should have known better ‘cause I have made this mistake before
2. Others are related to attempts to try something new and untried or blatently stupid
3. The last are due to the fact that wood is all different and sometimes breaks your heart!

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

showing 1 through 15 of 25 replies

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