‘Go wisely and go slowly. Those who rush stumble and fall.’

Dry-fit face frame for my bathroom vanity.

I’ve heard many folks say that the difference between a professional and an amateur is that a professional knows how to hide her or his mistakes. I guess I do know how: Don’t write about them.

But I would never consider myself a professional woodworker. I don’t sell much work; most of my income is from editing and teaching. And though I’m an otherwise fully lapsed Catholic, my guilt and need for confession is ineluctable. (Plus I think it’s good to share mistakes; it might help others avoid the same.)

So here’s my painful truth: In a rush to get the dry-fit done on the front frame of my sink base (before I lost the use of my bench for four days because of two classes), I didn’t take two extra minutes to think.

I want the rails and internal face frame members flush to the front of my legs, so I flipped everything over on my flat benchtop to register together those surfaces as I marked out the joinery. I did get the legs – tapered on two sides – in the correct orientation, and marked, cut and fit the loose tenons for the top and bottom rail. So far so good. But it was there that I should have taken a moment.

You probably know where this is going. I located and fit the vertical rail…with my 20″ opening for the sink basin (doors beneath) on the wrong side, then proceeded to laboriously locate, mark, cut and fit each member, dry-fitting the entire assembly after with each piece as I fit them to make sure the next was in the right location. Everything is square and closes up nicely; too bad all the dividers are on the wrong side. And too bad I didn’t stand it upright sooner…perhaps I’d have noticed before I thought I was done. I guess I’m just thankful it was too late in the day to glue up.

So what was intended to be the front will become the back – in which there is only the vertical divider inside the legs and top/bottom rail. As I refit the drawer and door dividers on what are now the front legs, I will work slowly; it’s faster.


About fitz

Woodworker, writer, editor, teacher, ailurophile, Shakespearean. Will write for air-dried walnut.
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12 Responses to ‘Go wisely and go slowly. Those who rush stumble and fall.’

  1. Work smarter, not faster. If you take your time and do it right the first time the speed will come all by itself. If I don’t have time to do it right when am I going to have time to do it over. It took me a lot of years to understand this and still I mess things up. You are not alone.

  2. chris swartout says:

    It is nice to know that I am not the only one to do these kind of things! Thank you, I feel better knowing that you too do this sort of thing.

  3. dtugboat says:

    So much wood so many mistakes, I thought I made them all but each day I find a new mistake to make. At least for me they are new.

  4. johncashman73 says:

    Mirror, mirror.

  5. As soon as you said, “I flipped everything over…” I cringed. I feel your pain. Thanks for sharing your mistakes!

  6. Jim Featherstone says:

    I love this! Its faster to work slower….my mantra in so many human doings.

  7. RobertJ817 says:

    Yep! Been there 😉

  8. OneBigMarine says:

    You are not alone in this, we have all been there, sometimes it’s more expensive than others.
    As the Amish say, “The hurrier I go, the behinder I get”.

  9. Bill Heidt says:

    In woodworking, as in most things, it’s important to hurry so you have time to do it over.

  10. toolnut says:

    You might come to decide you like the setback of the frame from the legs. It might give some interesting shadow lines. Just trying to help make some lemonade.

  11. BLZeebub says:

    Working in reverse “mirrored” is always treacherous! That’s why I always mark my show-faces. If I don’t see them, I look for them. If there are none, I mark them in order to sate my fear of doing what you did and what I too have done.

    Live and learn and live long enough to screw up again. LOL

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