Wednesday, March 13, 2013

If it’s Worth Doing

I was fortunate to enjoy some extra time in the shop today, so I decided to start working on a long box to hold the break-down candle holder I built a while back. 

I’m using the same recycled Oak from the old dressers that I used for the candle holder.

While cutting the miters for the corner joinery I found myself needing to make some slight tweaks to my 45 degree cross-cut sled.  I built this sled about three years ago, back in Albuquerque, and it’s survived two big moves and some pretty big temperature swings.

After adding a strip of strategically placed tape I was getting nice, square cuts again.  While cutting the parts for the box I found that those pieces to the right of the blade had glass-smooth cut surfaces.  I had never noticed this previously.  It could be that I’m using a nicer, 90-tooth blade this time around, but it was quite a surprise.  There are no adjustments made to that side of the sled, and when I put a square up to the pieces…dead on!  I discovered this as I was about half way through my planned cuts, and armed with this new observation…it was worth resetting and starting over.

Here’s a quick pic of the box taped up into a dry-fit.  All four mitered corners lined up and closed up very nicely!

While celebrating my good fortune of having discovered this higher quality cut to the right of the blade, I recalled the parts to three other boxes that I had milled and cut a few months ago.  I knew there was some slight gapping and rough surfaces in the miter joints on those boxes, but was sure I could pull those joints together in the gluing process with some extra clamping pressure.  My gut was also telling me that there was some risk of those slight errors showing in the joints.  My mind kept going back and forth…it was worth giving up about 1/8 of an inch on these boxes to re-cut those joints…it was worth the hour of time to pull these “completed” box parts off the rack and make them even better.

The difference was noticeable right away.  As I taped these boxes up into a dry-fit I could tell that these joints were going to be crisp and accurate.  There are no visible gaps at any point along the surfaces of the joints. 

Now…I could have muscled these boxes together and then spit and cussed my way through bringing these joints in line and correcting/hiding any gaps, and they probably would have still looked pretty darn good.  I have had some success in fiddling my way through some inaccuracies in the past.  There is something about knowing that I’m putting these boxes together with my best effort though.  Knowing that I’m achieving the highest quality I’m capable of (for now) injects a little bit of extra pride in my work.

In re-working those three boxes I didn’t get to all of the plans I had for the day, but it was worth taking a step back to elevate my craftsmanship just one more little notch.

Work…learn…re-work, and then stretch!  What are you skimping on?  Are you mailing it in on anything? 

If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well.

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