Trying being the right word here.
Sometimes mistakes happen in the workshop. As long as the only thing injured is your pride it’s OK though as they can be a great learning experiance. For instance, I wanted a nice wooden stand to hold my phone at work because apart from it helping to keep my desk tidy I like the idea of adding some wood to that world of plastic and steel.
I’d seen a few pictures of ones that are basically two bits of wood with a slot in each that fit together and decided to try and make one of those. I had some likely wood around, I think it’s pacific maple or meranti so not the best timber but it has a decent grain and should come up nice. Plus, it fits into my ‘don’t bring in any timber until I’ve used what I have’ plan
I don’t tend to do a lot of actual joinery work because I struggle to get things right and so I’m trying hard to pick projects that will make me overcome this. While this project is quite simple, it requires a couple of slots to be cut to fit it together so I get to practise a number of things – accurate marking, sawing to a line and chiselling out waste.
I started with the below piece of timber. It’s already dressed so I can start right away
I cut it to size. This is a lot easier now I have my hand mitre box built. I don’t think I’ve shown you pictures of that yet but I’ll get to it soon
You can see in the previous picture I’ve started marking up where I want to create a cutout. This next picture shows both pieces marked and a knife line put in. I’ve also marked which bit is waste and which is to be kept and it’s important to remember to do this otherwise you can end up making mistakes with it.
I put the shorter piece into the vice and cut both lines. I managed to miss the first line a little but can clean that up later. I should have been using a backsaw here because I’m not quite practised enough with the pullsaw to get the line. It’s just another opportunity to practise though so that’s fine.
I cut the slot out of the other piece the same way, hitting the lines a bit better this time
You can see below that while I actually got closer to the line on the second lot of cuts I still didn’t get it quite right. I’ll try and practise that some more.
I clamped the first piece to the bench ready to chisel it out. I should have used a benchhook but my benchtop is just MDF so a few marks don’t matter.
I removed the waster with a narrow chisel, taking small bites and working back towards my baseline.
I was actually pretty happy with the results, the slot was just about right
I repeated the steps for the small piece
so I finished with two bits, slots cut and ready to put together
This is where the ‘trying’ part of the title comes into play. I decided to test fit the two pieces and they were very close to perfect, and went 3/4 of the way together without an issue. I thought to myself that all it needed was a light tap with a rubber mallet and they would friction fit, I might not even need glue
Apparently the timber had other ideas and even with the lightest tap both pieces split across the grain and fell apart. This was the moment when I looked at the bench, looked at the clock and realised I’d just spent the better part of an hour making kindling.
Obviously I was disappointed but I’ve learnt to step away when this sort of thing happens and to grab a cup of coffee and let myself think about what went wrong and what I can do to fix it. I actually ended up making the stand again from the leftover bits and using glue instead, but that’s not the most important thing I took away here. I realised that I’d got in plenty of practise that will make me better next time I do similar work and even though this didn’t turn out the way I wanted it definitely wasn’t time wasted.
I could have pretended this project never took place but I decided to write about it instead in hopes that it will help someone else realise that even though things may not tun out the way you wanted, it’s still worth having a go at it.