In Woodworking Mistakes

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When I found out my wife was pregnant with our first child, I decided to make a cradle. Nine months seemed like plenty of time, but naturally, I finished building the cradle with only a week to spare. I decided to apply the oil finish outside, thinking it would speed up the drying time, so I could apply additional coats faster. Also, I figured, the cradle wouldn’t reek of freshly applied finish when it went into use. After rubbing on the first coat of oil, I went back inside to clean up my shop.

I live two blocks from the ocean. With the wonderful breezes, also come large birds with accurate aim. Not only did a seagull get my cradle, it successfully unloaded two full shots! Needless to say my wife laughed while I cried. Another day in the shop, and now the cradle is safely drying inside, awaiting our imminent new arrival. -Keith


Eyeing a unique piece of exotic wood I’d acquired, I decided to build a commemorative keepsake box for a good friend who was retiring. The box would have a framed glass lid, which I planned to create by cutting the box apart after gluing it together with the glass installed.

I worked on the box while waiting for the glass company to cut a special piece of decorative glass. After carefully cutting the board so the grain would flow around the corners, I routed the dovetailed corner joints and cut arcs in all four sides to give the box integral feet. I routed grooves for the bottom and the glass. and applied a clear lacquer finish on all the parts.

I picked up the glass the night before the luncheon, and headed to my shop with no time to spare. After assembling the first three pieces, I slid the bottom and the glass into their grooves to check the fit. PERFECT. But when I tried to install the final piece, it wouldn’t go—I’d routed the grooves on the wrong face.

CNN reported a sonic boom that shattered glass and windows in Helena. Montana. It was just me in Idaho. -Foster

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