How do you deal with failure?

  • Advertise with us

« back to Woodworking Skill Share forum

Forum topic by Paul posted 04-06-2014 05:04 AM 2282 views 0 times favorited 68 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Paul's profile


721 posts in 1527 days

04-06-2014 05:04 AM

My most recent project was a teak and mahogany iPhone holder that had channels hollowed out to amplifiers (holes).

I was about 7 hours into the the entire project.

At the end of a long day I decided to cut it in half for the final glue up.

Cut it exactly in half! It won’t line up perfectly. I decide to make a kerf cut in case I was wrong. 1/64” cut.

Looked back down at my angle gauge on my TS 6.5% yep that’s the angle I last cut to give the base it’s seat.

7 hours down the drain and my dog got a 90 minute walk.

What do you do when you mess up terribly bad and there’s no one to blame but yourself?


68 replies so far

View Loren's profile


10241 posts in 3610 days

#1 posted 04-06-2014 05:06 AM

Fix it.

Sometimes emotional distance is required. Furniture making
at a high level involves a high level of mistake fixing. I’ve
surprised myself with what I can fix. An even finish conceals
many sins.

View Paul's profile


721 posts in 1527 days

#2 posted 04-06-2014 05:12 AM

Thanks Loren,

I guess I’m posting more of a hypothetical question than a brass tax “x is the answer” response


View Ocelot's profile


1956 posts in 2600 days

#3 posted 04-06-2014 05:20 AM

Most of hobby woodworking is not really to get a product, but more to get an experience. And what an experience you have! Now, you can tell the story many times over the years. If it came out perfectly, it would be forgotten as soon as you upgraded your phone.

That, and build another one. Then every time somebody new comments on it, you can tell the story about the one you cut in two.


View BJODay's profile


526 posts in 1905 days

#4 posted 04-06-2014 07:26 AM

I have had similar problems. Shutting off the lights and leaving the shop for a while helps.

When I get stuck, I’ll suspend work on a project until I figure out a good way to proceed or fix the error.

It must be different for someone doing commissioned work or something on a deadline. Then it’s not so easy to walk away for a while.


View LeTurbo's profile


226 posts in 1547 days

#5 posted 04-06-2014 07:44 AM

I ask myself, “can I cover this up – and if I can’t, could I make a feature of it?” I guess it’s like the way the Japanese fix broken crockery with gold. It becomes a thing of beauty in itself, perhaps even more remarkable than the original. Failing those two answers … well, put it aside as experience. A mistake is only a mistake if I don’t learn from it.

View hoosier0311's profile


706 posts in 1987 days

#6 posted 04-06-2014 07:56 AM

as long as I can figure how I screwed up, it normally doesn’t bother me too much. Sometimes taking the dog for a walk helps clear my head.

-- atta boy Clarence!

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

28893 posts in 2300 days

#7 posted 04-06-2014 09:39 AM

How do I deal with failure? I yell a lot (bad words) at the person responsible (me). Then, as Loren said, I go about fixing it.

When I am having one of “those” days, I leave the shop if possible. Go to lunch, take a nap, do something to reset the mind.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View Newbiewoodworker43's profile


150 posts in 2404 days

#8 posted 04-06-2014 11:07 AM

I guess all you guys are very even tempered. I, unfortunately, am not! I am new at woodworking and only a hobbyist. One of the things that I have particular problem with is cutting angles and compound angles.

I was recently working on a nice birdhouse that had a front porch (one angle), a lower roof (different angle), and a back roof (yet a different angle). It was a challenge to get the roof put together but after several tries I got it cut right and then figured out how to glue it together. OK, it was not perfect but it held together and it is just a birdhouse!

Towards the end of the project I was to put a dormer in the middle of the lower roof. After about 20 times of trying to get the angles right I got so angry that I just smashed the whole bird house to pieces and walked away. I felt better but I still can’t figure out angles l.

I am not sure if it is because my compound mitre saw is HF special and the angles are off (I do check them with a digital gauge), or the fact that my table saw is an old Craftsman (again I check the angle with a digital gauge) or I just suck at this.

What really frustrates me is that I have no one to ask how to do this. No one to show me what I am doing wrong. There is no place around me to take classes. So I try to do projects that do not have a lot of angle cuts in them. I know someday I will figure angles out but for now and for the sake of my blood pressure I just avoid angles if possible.

Of course, I do not recommend my method for dealing with failure!

-- ---Howard, Amesbury MA

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1313 posts in 1897 days

#9 posted 04-06-2014 11:39 AM

In my shop, There are usually some deep breaths involved and if those don’t work, a scrap usually ends up in the front yard. I’m getting better, but anger has always been a weakness of mine. Right now, I am doing about 1/2 and 1/2 commisioned work and hobby work, so if I screw up working on something for fun, I am usually just relieved that the project doesn’t matter. If it is on a commission, I do everything I can to fix it.

Just as an example of what you can fix, I was putting finish on a solid 3” oak kitchen island top when it tipped over and off of the table onto the shop floor (it was a bad setup looking back). It weighted about 150 pounds, so I wasn’t catching it on my own. At first I was real pissed, but then I picked it up, took a look at the damage, and was able to incorporate it into the “rustic” look of the piece. I never thought about it again. Sometime the damage seems worse right when things go wrong. If you cool off a little, things always look a little brighter.

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View cutworm's profile


1075 posts in 2755 days

#10 posted 04-06-2014 11:40 AM

I chalk it up as another lesson learned. Happens often for me. Lots of lessons learned.

-- Steve - "Never Give Up"

View JoeinGa's profile


7735 posts in 1969 days

#11 posted 04-06-2014 11:52 AM

What do you mean … failure?

”Oh no. I PLANNED for it to look this way”

-- Perform A Random Act Of Kindness Today ... Pay It Forward

View HorizontalMike's profile


7749 posts in 2876 days

#12 posted 04-06-2014 11:55 AM

Monte: ”...How do I deal with failure? I yell a lot (bad words) at the person responsible (me). Then, as Loren said, I go about fixing it….”

Monte, have you been recording MY WW sessions lately?! ;-)

BTW, I am currently offering a 25% discount on my course for the profanity-challenged woodworker. If you call in the next 9-minutes, you can sign up for just THREE payments of $49.95 plus shipping and handling for each of the 3-DVD course.

Remember, CALL NOW… ;-)

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

View Kelsky's profile


9 posts in 1486 days

#13 posted 04-06-2014 12:04 PM

If you don’t have some failures, you’d never improve. Easy to say, but I know my own work has improved every time I have one of those projects where I want to list my equipment on craigslist.

View ChuckV's profile


3109 posts in 3489 days

#14 posted 04-06-2014 12:07 PM


I would like to take your course.

But in the spirit of constructive criticism, I have to say that you must be out of your &1&$% mind if you think that your piece of !+$# DVDs are worth that price! Give me a ^!@%#&$ break! &&#&^&!

Smiley face my @$$.

-- “Big man, pig man, ha ha, charade you are.” ― R. Waters

View Picklehead's profile


1041 posts in 1891 days

#15 posted 04-06-2014 12:19 PM

Newbie/Howard:”What really frustrates me is that I have no one to ask how to do this”

Hey, you have us! Although, you know, a recent thread by the OP of this thread (facetiously) questions whether anyone should trust any advice given by any of us! (Still an open question for each to ponder, I suppose) Take a few pics of your mistakes, throw up a post, and we’ll all learn from your questions. Yes, even the people who post wrong answers and are, ahem, corrected by another.

Or maybe we need a new forum for mistakes, before and after (like your birdhouse before and after you smithereened it!)

-- You've got to be smarter than the tree.

showing 1 through 15 of 68 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