Shop Tips (or We All Make Mistakes)

IMG_1084A few weeks ago, I posted about drawing full-size plans (here’s a link if you need to catch up). As I wrote then, I seldom spend the time to make full-size drawings of a project, but the Egerton tall clock is one of those times I think it’s important.

Yesterday I worked on the hood door. The design, as it is on many clocks, has two stiles and a lower rail that are straight. The upper or top rail is arched to follow the design of the dial. The door for the Egerton clock has a small molded edge on the inside. Because I’m using traditional joinery – mortises and tenons – I have to assemble the door parts with mitered sticking. There are quite a few extra steps on your parts if you’re working this way. Add to that the rabbeted area for the door glass and there’s a lot on your plate. That’s why I took the time to draw it full-size.

As you can see in the opening photo, I got the joinery complete and had my door frame assembled. I located the top rail center then with my compass in hand, I marked the interior arch. IMG_1085That arch needs to be cut out, the inside edge is molded to match the rest of the frame and it’s rabbeted, too. Before I did that work, and while I had the door parts assembled, I reset my compass and drew in the outside arch. That’s when I knew I had a problem.

If you look at the right-hand photo, you can see my problem. (The pencil lines are a bit hard to see, but if click on the photo the image get bigger.) The outer arch hit in no man’s land. My stiles were not long enough. After 15 minutes of self cursing and trying to figure out a way correct the problem, I did exactly what should have been done. Make new stiles.

New stiles meant that I had to re-create the entire setup again. Shop tip #1 is to leave your tools setup until you’ve completed the work. IMG_1088My router was not changed, so I easily routed the profile onto my new pieces. Also, my mortiser was not changed making those cuts a breeze. Everything else had to be re-set. Sucks for me.

Part of my 15 minutes was spent trying to decide why I had missed this minute-but-huge point as I studied my full-size plans – that’s why you draw them, right. That is Shop tip #2. Study the plans. I had the information right in front of me, but didn’t pay attention. In the left-hand photo, you can see that I should have picked up the small detail. In fact, the line drawn that extends from the inside edge of the door stile to the arch above was not drawn in. Bad move. It was only afterward that I penciled in the line.Lesson learned.


As you can see in the photo below, I finished the new stiles and now my arch hits into wood instead of open air. I lost about 1 1/2 hours of time, but as it is when we screw up in the shop, I learned a valuable lesson. Mistakes make us better woodworkers. I just hope I remember it the next time.

Build Something Great!


1 Comment

Filed under Shop Tips, Tall Clock

One response to “Shop Tips (or We All Make Mistakes)

  1. Minor details… can soon become Major details…

    Glad you finally found the problem & fixed it… looks like you were just a short distance off… but OFF is OFF… 🙂

    Thank you.

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