Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Benchmaker's Apprentice: Mistakes and Fixes

Not many people do a large woodworking project without making at least one mistake. Well, here is the first (and hopefully last) mistake for this project. I measured and cut my mortise without accounting for the space the tenon at the top of the leg would take. What a dumb mistake, but it is so easy to do. Thankfully, it is not too difficult to fix. Above is the piece of wood I used to fill the gap in the leg so that I can cut the mortise farther down.

I asked Jameel to say a couple things about the mistake:

"I've made this mistake before in building this bench, its real easy to overlook since the top construction seems far off at this stage of the build. You don't have to trash the entire leg. It's a pretty easy fix. I wanted to share this on the blog to help others avoid this mistake. The arrow points to the 1" long tenon on the end of the leg that the top registers to. This is the tenon we forgot to account for. Since the tenon is 1" long, we simply needed to move the mortise 1" down on the leg. So the filler piece was made about 1-1/4" long so we could recut the top end of the mortise crisply while extending the lower half the correct length. We made the filler fit tight for a solid repair"

After I made sure that piece was pushed up against the end as tight as possible and after waiting for the glue to dry, I cut off the excess and planed it flush (no, not the sound the toilet makes after you're done in the bathroom).

And here we are at the mortiser... mortising. The first plunge cleans up the top end of the mortise.

Not a bad looking fix for a bad mistake.


  1. Well Hunna, this shows us once again; a mistake is being made before we know it!

    Luckily it was a mistake that was easy to fix and you did a fine job doing it.

    Once I start my own bench this is something to watch out for. And in general, take plenty time for measuring and lay-out and be sure before you make sawdust, chips or shavings.

    Nice legs!

  2. Without mistakes how would we ever learn anything, at least that's the way I've learned most of what I know. (grin)


  3. I work in the flooring industry and every now and then I hear someone complement a flooring installer saying, "he never makes a mistake." I know that is not true since I have been woodworking for almost 30 years and I make a mistake, usually more than one, on every project.

    On my current project, I was cutting a 1/4 dado in a nice, wide piece of mahogany. I clamped a fence so that I could run the router tight against it. The only problem is I ran the router left to right instead of the correct right to left. This caused the router to wander and there went my straight dado.

    Just part of it.

  4. The good thing about mistakes is you can never make one without learning from it.

  5. Hunna

    Many years ago I was elected to construct a few things for our church. Talk about mistake!

    +Father Raphael

  6. I think my mistake is still better:)

    Nice recovery.



Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.