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Thread: What did you learn on your latest project?

  1. #1

    What did you learn on your latest project?

    Today I learned two lessons (which may be second-nature to the sharper members of this forum).

    First I learned to check the squareness of my miter saw cuts occassionally. Somehow the fence got a bit out of adjustment. Not too much damage done.

    Second, I learned to think about available materials when planning a project. I'm building drawers for storage in my workshop. I laid out several different drawer heights (vertical measurement) to accommodate a variety of different tools. Today I started scrounging through the scrap pile looking for a drawer face that would be four inches high. I had plenty of old 1x4 pieces that would have been perfect if I had made the drawer opening 3 1/2.

    What have you learned lately?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Corvallis, OR
    Here are a few lessons I learned this month:

    1) Qtips can put finish in hard to reach places - finishing some blanket chests for Christmas with Watco Danish wood oil, I noticed that I missed a few hard to reach corners in my frame and panel construction. Qtips dipped in the finish were able to reach those spots easily.
    2) Hand planes are cool - after I glued the face frames to some end tables I'm making, I noticed the face frame joints weren't terribly flush - instead of sanding, I opted to try my bevel up smoothing plane which easily leveled the frames and even made the cabinet/face frame joint nice and smooth without the usual sanding noise and mess.
    3) Scrapers are cool too - I glued up some panels for a coffee table, and decided to try out hand scraping instead of reaching for my sander. I was impressed at how a scraper made a smooth surface with no noise, dust cloud, or hand-numbing vibration.
    4) Drill presses and wood cabinet pulls - my brother's kids visited and broke a knob off of an end table's cabinet, so I found a store-bought cherry knob in my stash and I attached the screw and then chucked said screw into the drill press. Spinning at the lowest speed I was able to hold sand paper in my hand and smooth and reshape the knob in almost no time at all.
    5) Beeswax is a great screw lubricant - I have a block of paraffin that I've used over the years to coat my screws, and while it works, I tried a block of beeswax recently, and thought it was much better - sticks better to screws, and smells nice.
    6) LED shop lights have arrived - 3/4 of my garage was lit with 3 shop lights, and the dark area was over my band saw - on impulse I bought a Feit Electric LED shop light that Costco had on sale at Costco for $20 last week, and it's as bright as my other light fixtures, turns on instantly, and should last forever.
    7) Organize your tools. Lee Valley has free shipping this time of year, so I went through their catalog and made a list of things I'd love to have, and on a whim looked at my previous orders on their site and noticed I bought several of them 2-3 years ago, and just forgot. Now I just need to find where I put them.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    SE PA - Central Bucks County
    Current project...a small commission for a "retro-modern LP record rack"...

    • Don't cut things so close on material buy...there will always be that one board that is an inch too short to produce the component you need
    • Keep plenty of inexpensive hardboard sheet stock around for jigs and fixtures required for complicated projects so you don't have to run out and buy more at the last minute, holding up the work
    • Don't expect inexpensive tooling for things like drilling/countersinking to work well and last when using "hard" hardwood
    • Measure twice...err....three times...nail/screw once
    • Sharpen before you need to use a tool

    The most expensive tool is the one you buy "cheaply" and often...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Central Missouri, U.S.
    - Whatever board you perforated with holes to store your router bits is not long enough, nor will it ever be.

  5. #5
    I re-learned that I have an unlimited imagination for finding new ways to err.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Columbus, OH
    I just finished up some sorely needed maintenance in the shop over the holidays. I found out that...
    - changing the blades in the planer isn't nearly as intimidating as I thought it would be.
    - I need to clean the blade on my MS more often
    - used Rocker blade cleaner will grow things when stored for a long time
    - I need to learn how to lube the gibs on my jointer
    - I really need to create better storage for my TS accessories
    - my next project has to be racks for that stack of wide cherry sitting in the middle of the basement
    - it's really easy to delete a post when editting on a tablet ...

    "Any intelligent fool can make things bigger or more takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction." - E.F. Schumacher

  7. #7
    Microwave drying of wood to turn is an art. I'm not exactly an artist. But I intend to pursue my efforts to learn.

  8. #8
    Without discipline it's all too easy to unlearn lessons you thought you had learned!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2010
    I learned Jim is right - buy more wood than you think you will need. I'm nearly done with a project that required 80 BF per SketchUp. I bought 101 BF. I needed 108 BF. Had to make another trip to the lumber shop to get a board. Thankfully, they had just what I needed.

    This project has also taught me that building a set of divided lite arched French doors takes a long time and there are a lot of hidden challenges. It's been fun and I've sure learned a lot, but it's taking a lot longer than I expected.

    This project also confirmed that buying that new Grizzly 0636X bandsaw this Summer was a really smart move. It resawed the 8/4 Sapele and cut all the 1/8" thick veneer for the door skins easily and perfectly. No runs, no drips, no errors. What a great machine. Now about that anemic drum sander ....


  10. #10
    I was rebuilding some side gates for a baby bed for a friend. I had to add spindles to change the spacing between them so I also had to make new top and bottom rails. I had clamped all the rails together and marked the locations for all the holes for the spindles, measuring from one end. I even marked the ends of the four pieces so I could keep all the ends oriented the same way so any measurement errors wouldn't accumulate and mess up the assembly. So what did I do? During assembly I flipped one rail on each side end for end creating exactly the problem I was trying to avoid. As long as the gates go together with the ends of the rails on top on one end match there is no problem. But if you flip one top to bottom then there is a cumulative error that causes the bed to be slightly twisted when it is assembled so that only three legs touch the floor. There is a work around but I'm not 100% happy with the outcome.

    What I learned is when you mark pieces for orientation, pay attention to the marking during assembly.[QUOTE=Dave Stuve;2640498]Here are a few lessons I learned this month:

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Stuve View Post
    5) Beeswax is a great screw lubricant - I have a block of paraffin that I've used over the years to coat my screws, and while it works, I tried a block of beeswax recently, and thought it was much better - sticks better to screws, and smells nice.
    If you pinch the screw threads that have beeswax on them between you fingers for a few seconds, it sticks even better. Beeswax does not work well on plane soles for reducing friction.
    Last edited by Lee Schierer; 01-01-2017 at 3:05 PM.
    Lee Schierer - McKean, PA
    USNA- '71
    Captain USN(Ret)

    My advice, comments and suggestions are free, but it costs money to run the site. If you found something of value here please give a little something back by becoming a contributor! Contribute

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2005
    Camas, Wa
    All my projects are so rushed that I don enjoy them

  12. #12
    That clients can change their minds on a whim and don't think it is in stone until it actually is.

    And even then, after you build it, they can still change their minds about the project.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    US Virgin Islands
    Blog Entries
    Installing a Benchcrafted Classic leg vise. I learned that a 2 3/4 Forstner bit is not easy to come by.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm Schweizer View Post
    Installing a Benchcrafted Classic leg vise. I learned that a 2 3/4 Forstner bit is not easy to come by.

  15. #15
    Not to forget my lead pencils. Standard #2 wood pencils don't hold a point on critical markings. That puts grandpa in a pissy mood....
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