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End GrainMost of us share this pathological habit that’s hard to break.

By Peter Franks
Page 64

I have a problem. A compulsion, really. It’s not as serious as, say, alcoholism, a food addiction or an unhealthy fascination with Megan Fox. But it’s a problem.

Fortunately, most people are too polite to point it out. Or they don’t even notice. But I do. And it’s bad. If I were a professional woodworker, it’s the sort of thing that could lose me customers.

But here’s the thing: I’m betting you have the same problem.

What is it? I refer to it as Compulsive Mistake Identification, or CMI. Oh sure – it sounds innocuous. But trust me: it’s seriously pathological.

Here’s how it works. First, you build something. Something beautiful, something functional – a piece of furniture, a jewelry box, a cutting board. Then someone comes over and admires it. The first words out of your mouth? “Thanks. But if you look here, you can see where the router bit slipped when I was going around the corner.”

Why? Why did you say that? Your friend/relative/spouse didn’t need to know that you screwed up! They didn’t need to have the tiny blemish pointed out to them. Now they – like you – will see it every time they look at your piece! Why, oh why did you have to tell them?

Here are some CMI moments I’ve had. I know you’re already thinking of your own.

I spent months making a beautiful bed. The first time I showed it off, I had to point out that the headboard didn’t lie flat against its supports, because I hadn’t drilled the holes in the supports properly. Nobody – especially a non-woodworker – would ever notice. Now you will, every time you come to my house.

I made a table for some friends. As I was making a leg, a knot fell out. I filled the knot hole with wood filler and used Sharpie markers to make it look like wood grain. No one would ever notice. Right? Right. Not, at least, until I was compelled to point it out.

My beautiful, dovetailed shoe cabinet. It sits by our front door. If you’ve visited my house, then you already know how one of the sides was put in upside down.

How do you know this? Because I told you. It’s otherwise invisible, except for a tiny offset that only a seriously anal woodworker (such as myself) would ever notice. Heck, the dovetails are light-tight. Did you really need to know that one side was upside down? I. Just. Can’t. Help. Myself.

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From the April 2013 issue #203
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