The project you wish you could burn but your pride won't let you.

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Forum topic by woodenwarrior posted 03-28-2015 01:21 PM 1307 views 0 times favorited 14 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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231 posts in 2217 days

03-28-2015 01:21 PM

Topic tags/keywords: humor joining milling arts and crafts oak

I know I’m not the only one that has had this problem. Building that one project that just won’t work out, infuriates you and makes you pull your hair out threatening to burn it but you see it through just because your pride won’t let you give it up. I would love to hear about yours…here’s mine….

Three years ago when I redeployed from Afghanistan, my wife asked me to build an aquarium stand for my duaghter’s fish tank. This was going to be my first real self designed project. The concept in my head was pretty straight forward…oak,A&C style, tapered heavy bottom legs with two adjustable shelves. Everything was going well until I disregarded a cardinal rule of not cutting all of the pieces at once. Needless to say the nothing fit properly and my frustration level went through the roof. The pieces eventually got stacked in a corner gathering dust taunting me every time I went out to work on something.

Fast forward three years and another redeployment. My wife was helping me clean up my shop and get organized after I returned home this time. She found three or four unfinished projects off to the side that she made me promise I would finish before starting something new( the A&C mirror I posted was one of them). She pulled out those mis cut pieces of an abortion I dreaded to think about as an unfinished aquarium stand and stacked them so the full force of my ineptitude could be viewed in the open for all to see. If I could have used my superman-like infra vision I would have torched the whole stack on the spot….unfortunately that isn’t listed among one of my many skill sets.

I have since done my best to put my pride aside and finish this beast. My skills have grown in the past three years ( in part from the many things I’ve learned from all of you…many thanks!) and my tool collection has grown as well. I pulled those pieces out and the first thing that went through my mind was,” Were you drunk or just stupid when you cut these???” It has taken a lot of patience and ingenuity to make this thing work as I am determined NOT to use new wood to fix something that should have done right the first time. It’s coming along and the plan has changed yet again ….for the umpteenth time. It will be finished because my pride won’t let this defeat me.

-- Do or do not...there is no try - Master Yoda

14 replies so far

View PASs's profile


595 posts in 3121 days

#1 posted 03-28-2015 01:42 PM

From hardship comes strength, experience, and knowledge.
p.s. Most of my projects are in the disaster category…wish I could get stronger…

-- Pete, "It isn't broken, you just aren't using it right."

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1317 posts in 1957 days

#2 posted 03-28-2015 02:16 PM

Ah. I built a standing desk out of cherry one week when I had a break. I thought it was going to look so great. As it slowly came together, it became clear that the design just sucked. I didn’t really care much to finish it, but I did anyway. The end product is ugly in my opinion, but at least I learned some new techniques on it. I think we all have some projects we wish we didn’t waste our time on, but it is what it is.

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View Ashus's profile


31 posts in 1197 days

#3 posted 03-28-2015 02:38 PM

The first box I made, long before I had any idea what I was doing.

I started out by trusting boards from Menards to be be perfectly square and straight.
I trusted an $80 dual compound sliding miter chop saw to cut 45ยบ eight times in a row.
I trusted a drill press with a 1/2” straight router bit and scrap wood as a fence to act as a reliable rabbet-maker.

I started that box over completely, after getting (most of) the proper tools and learning how to prepare stock for joinery – the errors magnified to the point of absurdity even before glue-up, rendering the whole thing unsalvageable. But I can’t bring myself to burn it for some reason.

Here’s how it turned out in the end after many weeks of messing everything up and learning from my mistakes:

-- Adam in Minneapolis

View scrollingmom's profile


1169 posts in 2486 days

#4 posted 03-28-2015 07:11 PM

Keep going in the end what really matters is that your daughter will look back and remember that you took the time to do something for her. Even if it doesn’t come out the way you intended she will always think of you when she looks at it. I’m sure she will think that it was the best thing ever. Yes I have been where you are now and sometimes i just can’t seem to make it right. I just walk away and come back another time.

-- Kelly, Allen,KS

View Arlin Eastman's profile

Arlin Eastman

4230 posts in 2583 days

#5 posted 03-28-2015 07:19 PM

I do burn all of mine, however, all my items are turned on a lathe. :)

I have done small things like bird houses and boxes but it is hard to do anything big while I was in the wheelchair for 4 years after the bombing in the middle east.

I would be happy to do and practice anything and just doing woodworking.

-- It is always the right time, to do the right thing.

View torpidihummer's profile


65 posts in 1875 days

#6 posted 03-29-2015 08:51 PM

I don’t burn my ‘failed projects as they are small enough for the ‘thrash cans’
and away they go with the Thrash Collector.

They say we learn by our mistakes and I ask when!

-- Torpidhummer

View TheFridge's profile


9605 posts in 1508 days

#7 posted 03-29-2015 08:56 PM

I just look at the crap projects I did in the beginning as learning experience. You should see the bookshelf I built out of knotty construction ply.

-- Shooting down the walls of heartache. Bang bang. I am. The warrior.

View bonesbr549's profile


1557 posts in 3089 days

#8 posted 03-29-2015 09:09 PM

I’ve still got an original bookcase I made for my mom out of cheap pine. Finish sucked, did not properly sand, and used nails and putty to sling it together, and it had a corny heart routed in the top.

My mom gushed when I made it the first year i was married. I put so much into it, and she had it till she passed away and now it’s in my kitchen, and I will celebrate my 30th Anniversary this summer.

I look at it and a china hutch I made a few years ago and the skill level is worlds apart, but no way would I trade it, and the kids are arguing over who gets it.

So no, keep them and learn from them as they all tell a story!

Good luck and keep the faith!

BTW I have trashed some components that did not come out right and redone them. I call those design changes :) Cheers.

-- Sooner or later Liberals run out of other people's money.

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2509 days

#9 posted 03-29-2015 09:26 PM

woodenwarrior, Remember, in any plan for battle, the first casualty is the plan.
I started a Doll house log cabin for my wife as a Christmas gift 5 years ago. The first one wasn’t my fault, I swear! That silly Ryobi cheapo saw was worthless for making accurate repeat cuts….. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Now I am in the 3rd or 4th iteration, I just figured out that for any commercial furniture or dolls to fit, they will have to be 1/128th scale and still be like Shaq and Michael compared to dwarves.

This time, instead of being 2’ long, it will need to be 4’ long and the logs much larger.

Oh, and from one vet to another, thankyou from the bottom of my heart for your service.
If you ever get to the Ft. Hood area, stop down and see us, we are about 60 miles from there.

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

View Quailguy's profile


56 posts in 1213 days

#10 posted 03-29-2015 10:07 PM

I’ll pipe in; my frustrations come from doing one or two projects well and then getting a little too uppity and screw up the next three or four. My current nightstand project is in its third month and I think I’ve pulled it out of the trash can three times already.
Most of all, thanks for your service to our country. without you, we’d be doomed. Same for the sacrifices your family has made on our behalf.

View woodenwarrior's profile


231 posts in 2217 days

#11 posted 03-30-2015 10:27 PM

I really appreciate all of your stories. It soothes my mind to know that I’m not the only one. I see some of these projects that are displayed and am blown away at the craftsmanship. In all honesty I use it as a perverse form of competition to push me to learn more and perfect my skills( I have yet to make a set of dovetails by hand that fit like a glove GRRRRRR,). The stand is coming along and I honestly think it may turn out to look pretty good after all. I’ll post photos when it’s complete.

-- Do or do not...there is no try - Master Yoda

View Ashus's profile


31 posts in 1197 days

#12 posted 03-30-2015 10:34 PM

You’re definitely not alone. I don’t think there’s a hobbyist or professional out there who hasn’t looked at something they’ve been working on and wondered, “What the crap was I thinking?”

I admire your dedication and perseverance, and I look forward to seeing the project.

-- Adam in Minneapolis

View john's profile


2370 posts in 4404 days

#13 posted 03-30-2015 11:11 PM

I almost burned all three of these birdhouses when I was building them , not because I screwed them up but because they took so long to build . It took me a Year on and off for the brown roof , two years for the green roof and 2 1/2 years for the black roofed house . I think it was a matter of loosing interest in them and wondering at the time what the heck was I building . The other thing was they were very heavy and it was getting hard for me to move them around by myself . They were a bit overwhelming .
The only reason I didn’t stick a match to them was because my friends convinced me to finish them .

-- John in Belgrave (Website) ,

View redryder's profile


2393 posts in 3124 days

#14 posted 03-30-2015 11:17 PM

There is more than one reason I have a wood stove in my shop.
That’s where more than a few bodies have gone…................

-- mike...............

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