Wednesday, 8 February 2017

If Everything Fails

I had to finish the tool box I've made end of last year.

Only the drawers were missing.

Not a big deal - I thought.

Last fall I've made a fall front toolbox for a friend of mine. I had a few delays due to some unpredictable issues. Luckily I could complete the box mainly until his birthday. But I had to handover the toolbox without drawers.

Now then, I have built the drawers during this winter. No big deal - I thought.
I have made some drawers and boxes during the last year. So I was fit. Often it is different than you think.

Although I have trained the techniques all the time and I thought I had a grip on all the time something failed.

A few examples? 
Let me start with the front of the top drawer. I had cut the piece roughly to length, squared one end, marked the distance for the opposite end, cut and shot it to final dimension. And? You guess it already. It came out 1,5 mm too short.
Not too critical. I could make the other front although a tad shorter. But now the drawers are sitting a bit loose.

Half blind dovetail for the drawers

The half blind dovetails are looking good at the picture above. I spent a reasonable amount of time to cut and pare them properly. But they came out a hair short (or the corresponding openings are a hair wide).
The gaps are not wide enough to wedge them, but they are recognizable.
After gluing the pieces together and having them planed smooth it looks good enough for a toolbox.
It is bothering me that nearly every task I have tried to execute properly somehow failed. For example there have been chip outs all the time. I've split the one or the other end while planing it flush, although I had it in mind and tried to avoid it. Not the end of the world of course. But always a drawback. So it came that I had to glue on split off pieces a few time what takes additional time until the fix was cured. And the frustration increases with every hour working on the drawers.

Homemade pull rings

After a few weeks I had the drawers complete. I was missing some drawer handles.
As I couldn't find fitting hardware and I wanted to have a rustic look I decide to use what a craftsman has got in his shop. A look in one of the multiple magazines revealed the following some splint pins and keyrings.

Both drawers in place

The mounting was easy. Drilling a whole trough the front, inserting the splint pint and clinching it at the back.
Nice and easy. Believe it or not. The next thing failed. The pull rings are off about 2 mm. Arrrrghgh!!!!!!!!
Not a big issue. But if your standing in front of the chest and looking at both drawers that's recognizable.

Lower drawer pulled out

Call me dumb, but I can't explain it. Three times measured but still wrong. And no way to fix it.

Filled with some chisels

As mentioned above. The drawers are done and the tool box is complete. Just a few coats of wax varnish for finishing.

I have thought a few times about making the drawers once again. What keeps me from it is the effort for the wood prepping. And I'm a bit tired. I would like to spent my time with other projects again.
All that said, I will call it done.

What's about you? Have you got similar experiences? You try to work focused on your project and felt everything goes wrong?

I will clean the deck now and then off to new projects.

Stay tuned!


  1. Stefan
    Nothing really went wrong, nor were they failures.... They were simply part of the learning curve! Woodworking is always challenging, at least I try to keep it that way. It help staying focused, and alive. I often joke that I like to work without a net :-) Wormanship of risk, its has been called. The best experiences are hard earned, and stick around longer.... in theory :-)
    I have been known to repeat a few... :-)

    All that to say, it turned out OK and, we, the craftsman are our own worst critics...always

    Bob, who has learned "a few" thing the hard way :-)

    1. Hello Bob,
      thanks for your words.
      It is not that I'm not satisfied how the box came out.
      And it's pretty clear to me that there learning curves with up and downs.
      It was a bit frustrating the last weeks. Coming into the shop, having a plan of tasks. 1o minutes later the plan was obsolete because I had to fix something and Pow! workshop time was over. It was a bit like "Groundhog Day". These things happened all the time during the last weeks.
      Finally all is good and that's not the end of the world just influenced my mood a little bit.

      Stefan, seeing the groundhog every day. :-)

  2. Hallo Stefan, besorg Dir doch einfach Beschläge mit einer kleinen Platte, sieht eh besser aus.

    Liebe Grüße

    1. Hallo Pedder,
      der einschlägige Baumarkt in meiner Nähe ist nicht so gut sortiert was Beschläge angeht.
      Aber ich werde mal sehen ob ich welche finden kann.

      Viele Grüße

  3. I am not the first to say it but it is not that the project is without faults but it is how you deal with them. Nothing is perfect but working toward perfection is the goal. Sounds good doesn't it but the truth is we are our own worst critic as most faults are seen only by the person who built it. Best sometimes to learn from our mistakes and move on.

    1. Hello Matt,
      thanks for your comment.
      Your are right. I'm very critic with myself. Anyway I'm satisfied with my result and I've learned to fix the different issues.
      It was just consuming a lot of valuable time.


  4. In my next project I'll have 3 drawers to built, so I'll keep this post in mind.
    Also this is all part off the learning curve - so I keep telling to myself... lol
    But, that's a great looking tool chest and fully functional so where's the the problem??

    1. Hi António,
      glad to read that you like the box. There is nothing wrong with the box itself. It was bothering me that I have made so many mistakes which costs me some time.
      And some issues happened without my intervention or has nothing really to do with the box. For example my block plane was falling down on the concrete floor. Workshop time terminated.
      Anyway, it's done now.
      Off we go with a new project.


  5. I like the key ring and split pins for knobs. I'll use that one for sure. Ditto on what Bob said, it's part of the learning curve. I still make the same mistakes but they aren't as bad as the first ones I made. I am getting better on each outing and I have my previous hiccups as a reminder.

    1. Hi Ralph,
      I like the idea of doing these kind of knobs or handles too. I had the idea to decorate the keyring with some cord.
      In the style of Greg. At least I will try that.


  6. Hey, es ist ein "Werkstattmöbel" - das muss nicht perfekt sein! Bau was anderes wenn es Dir Spaß macht

    1. Hallo Wolfram,
      Du hast ja recht. Es war eben nur nicht für mich.
      Und ich wollte es jetzt auch aus der Werkstatt haben, damit ich Platz für was neues habe. Mein eingeschränkter Platz zwingt mich dazu nicht zuviel Projekte gleichzeitig zu starten.


  7. Many years ago I used the same knob system, except I used some solid rings I found in a curtain shop. And I made the same mistake in alignment. My solution was to plug the hole and try again, the second time using a washer as an "escutcheon" to cover the mistake. No one is the wiser.

    Oh, wait. Now everyone on the planet knows.

    1. Hi Larry,
      nice hint. I will not tell anybody about it.


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  9. Too late Stefan,

    I think I already let the cat out of the bag.

    See if you can get ahold of a couple of GDR pfennig to drill out for washers. They have that very stylish hammer and dividers on them. They'd fit right in.

  10. The ring pulls are awesome, I think I will be stealing that idea on a future project.

    1. Hi Nathan,
      Thanks for your kind words. Feel free to reuse it.
      Meanwhile I have made an improvement. I have wrapped some fine cord around the ring.


  11. Hi Stefan

    I think the wood that you have used for the project looks so good that no one will ever notice if the top drawer is 1.5 mm too narrow.

    Regarding mistakes:
    I have made my fair share of mistakes on woodworking projects.
    A thing that I try to remember is that you are the only person who ever notices it. It is not a huge comfort, but perhaps just a small one.

    I have found one good use for pointing out the faults I have made:
    When my boys make something out of wood and they are not 100% satisfied, and I try to tell them that it looks good, they will become angry and say: "That is easy for you to say, because you never make any mistakes in woodworking".
    That is the time when I can show them some of my many faults and they gradually accept that making a small mistakle is OK, especially if you are willing to learn from it.
    One of the worst f... ups I have made was when I remodeled our bedroom. I installed some boards with a small moulding on each side. First the ones on the slope under the roof were attached. Then I had to attache the next row that would become a front for some built in cabinets.
    I had found a good technique and was proud that I was working faster than before. The only problem was that I had forgotten to align the first board with the boards already mounted. So all the lower boards are mounted 5 cm wrong if you look at the moulding.
    I still think I am the only one who notices it, though it is hard to miss an entire wall of improperly mounted boards.


    1. Hi Jonas,
      nice story. I guess everyone of us has got a similar one. I have got a small pickle under a wallpaper. Nobody recognizes it. But I can show you immediately where it is.
      As already mentioned. I'm not unsatisfied with the result and I've learned to makes fixes and repairs. It was bothering me that it took eight weeks to make two drawers, because of all the things which happened. But maybe I was just not focused on what I have done.