How do you hide your mistakes

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by Don W posted 11-15-2012 12:07 PM 4299 views 2 times favorited 57 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Don W's profile

Don W

19052 posts in 2809 days

11-15-2012 12:07 PM

Topic tags/keywords: mistakes cover up

I’ve seen a lot of post here on LJ’s about woodworking skill, and lack of it. We all have our own reason for woodworking, but most will agree no matter how skilled you are at the craft, mistakes will be made.

One of the big differences in skill level can be attributed to the ability to hide one’s mistakes. We sometimes joke about it, but the woodworking magazines are filled with ways to hide the imperfections that flow through our projects.

So here is a place to share some of the secrets (or not so secret) ways you have hidden mistakes, imperfections, mis-cuts and the like.

I noticed a glue line with about an inch or inch and a half of it that wasn’t perfect. I grabbed some titebond, rubbed it into the crack, and “wet” sanded over the top. Line gone.

What have YOU got?

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

57 replies so far

View RussellAP's profile


3104 posts in 2528 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 2728 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 2489 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 2334 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 (online now)


8539 posts in 2818 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 3400 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 2295 days

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

i never make any. ; )

-- Joel

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2489 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


7770 posts in 3155 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 3210 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


807 posts in 2577 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

19052 posts in 2809 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 2431 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


2893 posts in 2755 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 3210 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.

showing 1 through 15 of 57 replies

Have your say...

You must be signed in to reply.

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