At what point...

...do you just get it?
I just got a bunch of new tools. I spent hours drawing up the plans for a cabinet with several dividers for SWMBO's scrapbooking stuff. Spent lots of time measuring twice, cutting once only to find 5 minutes before final glue up that I was off by 1/8th on a vertical divider's dado on the top piece.
I grabbed the duct tape... the vaseline... heck, I even grabbed a butter knife, but nothing could fix the problem. I had to re-make the top.
I took a few minutes after remaking the top and getting the glue up done to figure out what went wrong. Right on the spreadsheet, "|14.25 | from left |bottom side of top|". It should have read "|14.125 | from left |bottom side of top|". So there I was scrambling at the last minute to stay on schedule. Luckily I had the stock to make it right.
For you pros, is there a time where you just 'get it'? And things like this dont happen? Where you just look at something and 'KNOW'? I expected it since this is only my second 'fine furniture' project, but thought I had beaten it with planning.
Im still enjoying the project, but mostly want to know if I should just always add budget of $$ and time contingency for this type of screw up. (Unless I buy someone elses proven plan)
Thanks. Mike
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I'm not a pro, but this is what I do. One of the simplest ways of eliminating them is to reduce the number of times you write anything. How did the information get into the spreadsheet? Did you take it from your original sketch and make a cut list? A simple typo can ruin your day. I try to work from the drawing when I can. Or list the parts in a logical manner so I can spot if 7 of 8 parts are 4 1/2" wide and I listed one as 5 1/2" wide, I may go back to check.
You also have to be aware of the critical dimensions. If a cabinet has to be 24" wide to house a 23 7/8" component, cutting it short is a big problem. OTOH, a free standing catch-all cabinet will look just as good even if you cut the parts 23 7/16 instead of 23 9/16 wide. You just adjust other dimension as needed to compensate. Well, I think that is what I'd do if I actually cut something wrong. Never have yet, but I do change plans along the way frequently. ;)
Always a good idea to have some extra material on had.
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I think even pros overbuy for contingencies.
It's a "cost of doing business".
I've been at this for nearly 20 years as a hobbyist, I still screw up... Just tonight I made a math error on cutting a piece. Fortunately I cut it long... It doesn't always work out like that.
I always overbuy by 20 percent. If I need it, I have it. If not.... the inventory will get used for something.
-Steve

of
glue
to
this
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<snip>
I've never seen a completely proven plan. Even from the best.
Everything gets modified a little bit. Or the draftsperson, aka illustrator misses or modifies a critical dimension.
I used a detailed, well-illustrated plan by a well respected, detail oriented woodworker, published in FWW several years ago. I got to a critical stage, with LOTS of expensive cherry, and found that the plans were inaccurate in one, essential detail.
I made a second piece, in some nice, but much less expensive, western maple, in order to figure out how to recover from the first situation. Now I have two.
This is why they call it a learning curve. And why it is so fascinating as a hobby, and so challenging as a custom furniture maker. And why some prototype in poplar for the really critical, big $$$ pieces.
Keep at it. I seldom make the sames mistakes more than, oh, half a dozen times.
Patriarch
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Mike W. wrote:

Nope, that is not where you went wrong. I don't know what you do for a living, but woodworking is not engineering. The plan is a plan, and nothing goes to plan; real-live execution always has it oddities, often beginning with flaws in the plan. What you did wrong was believeing in it too much. Measure the pieces you *have*; even better, use calipers, etc. and pass on the measuring tape/rule/whatever. Even better yet. mark one piece from another whenever possible; in fact, design so that this is possible.
Just my $0.02.
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I'm the poster child for this type of stuff. Measured thrice - drawer length still came out 1/2" shy and no idea why. Two years and a dozen projects into this and it's obvious I don't have it yet.
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On Fri, 25 Feb 2005 03:21:10 GMT, "Mike W."

Yup. And nope.

I think you develop a "sense", you learn shortcuts, you work more with what's on the bench than what's on the paper ... but all that only means that other stuff happens. <grin>

Always. I order materials 10 - 15% over ... and budget materials at 150% of the plan.
Ken
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Mike W. wrote:

for a

lots of

final glue

piece.
<snip>
just
up.
May biggest headaches occur with sheet goods. Most plywood is no longer in the specified dimension (i.e. 3/4" is really 23/32", etc.). Not enough to be noticeable, but enough to make your rabbets have a lip and your panels in the dado a bit wobbly. But MDF, OTOH, is actually 3/4". And if you get your plywood from the BORG, it's a crap shoot as to whether the 3/4" ply is 23/32" or 11/16". Oh yeah, if you're using plans which call for plywood, all it's dimensions are always specified as 3/4". Quite aggravating when you have to recalculate several dimensions of other pieces. Hopefully, if I forget to resize, the piece I cut is too long by 1/32" or 1/16" instead of too short.
-Bill
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Mike:
Most Plans I have seen are wrong in some respects. Many are simply drawings -- especially in the "woodworking" genre of books. Only did a couple of small things from a plan. Wasted a bit of wood.
Now any time someone brings me a plan I re-do all the arithmetic (and occasionally a bit of trig and rarely some math) using a common baseline. It saves a lot of time and spoiled wood. -- Then the "plan" usually gets re-done anyway. The I can only blame myself if a measurement or calculation is wrong.
Most plans don't give the classic "engineering" top front, (back if necessary) and side views. They don't use a common reference point -- and that's what usually leads to the measurement and take-off errors.
I knew that engineering drafting course would come in useful one day. :-)
The reason production shops don't make these errors (too often) is that they make the same thing(s) according to a set list -- and if a mistake occurs then it can normally be tracked to a failure or change of material etc. Then it is worked back out of the system -- till someone gets imaginative again.
I was showing someone last night a way that works for me when doing a custom design -- or reworking a plan.
Concept --> architecture --> architectural drawing --> engineering --> production plan --> test build --> final build --> Quality check and finishing.
Modify any of above as necessary and loop again.
Be prepared to loop back at any stage when you find that something is unrealizable at any stage.
One example -- stool legs -- suppose you use a 1:6 (9.4623 degrees) ratio for the slope of the leg (same as a softwood dovetail) -- how will you set the angle on your saw? Build a jig? Or will you go back and use a 10 degree angle block to set the saw miter() and recalculate the length of the leg? It's pretty close - so maybe you will just use 10 degrees and the legs will be a little bit short... ? Ok now what about the cross members on the stool - they will be a tiny bit short so you can make then a little bit longer. - Just a bit of trig right? And so it goes.
Aside: Assuming a 30 " height the stool leg contacts the floor 5" from the vertical point of contact with the base. A 10 deg. angle means it is 5.289 inches from the point of contact (not 5 inches). (The rise of the triangle is .29 inches more over 30 inches with only 1/2 degree change.) The length of the leg is now 30.463 inches. It was ...30.414 - not much difference. What will change significantly is the length of the cross-members -- if they are near the floor they will need to be about a quarter inch longer. So a "simple mod" can catch you where it hurts. SO what you should do is a) make them a 1/4 inch longer or determine where you want them and re-do the trig.
The point is check any design - assume there are errors and recalculate everything. It has a cost though -- It eats time -- instead of wood.
My $.02 and rant for the day. :-)
Mike W. wrote:

--
Will
Occasional Techno-geek
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"> For you pros, is there a time where you just 'get it'?
No.

No.
Sometimes/often ... that's called experience.

Your question is a good one, but it presumes that pros or experienced hobiests have some magical "arrival". Sorry there is no discrete arrival.
IMHO, the difference that experience brings are:
1. Errors happen a bit less often and are more subtle (the downside is that the more subtle error are now easier for you to see with the benefit of experience). Sure, we could get into specific techniques like using story sticks, or careful marking to make sure that you cut on the right side of the line. (BTW, *everybody* cuts cuts on the wrong side of the line once in a while)
2. You will learn how to recover from many mistakes.
3. You will learn when the appropriate recovery action is to simply remill the component. (toss it and redo).
4. You will plan for these inevitable mistakes, overpurchase, and have the extra stock on hand to remill a boofed component, so that it is not that big of a deal. (hey, you did it once, you can do it again right?)
5. You will learn when potential mistakes are going to be harder to recover from, and know when to be extra careful.
6. Plans: your comment about "proven plans" suffers from the same fallicy, the assumption that pros produce perfect work. As others have suggested, not all plans are perfect, and many are less so than others. Unfortunately, it is not wise to assume that a "paid for" plan is going to be "proven accurate".
Cheers,
Steve
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[snipperized]
I have never made a mistake in my life. Except once. Back in 1963 I thought I had done something wrong. I hadn't. -----------------
So the old joke goes.
I still cut on the wrong side of the line and lose 1/8" from a piece. I mitre left when I should have mitred right. Etc.
The only thing experience has tought me is that it doesn't happen as often as it used to. In all reality, I guess I make fewer errors than a newbie, but man..just as you start feeling confident..lookout! That goes for safety too.
Most mistakes are teachable moments. All you can do is concentrate. Double check. When doing a subtraction, add it up again and see if you are back where you started. Stuff like that.
Hell, NASA makes mistakes and they operate on quadruple redundancy.
The other thing that changed with experience, I found, is that I laugh now..when before, I used to get pissed off.
It's all in how you hold your mouth.
00
Rob
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"Mike W." wrote in message

Actually, a wise observation regarding the subject, and answer of sorts, has been around for at least a couple hundred years:
But Mousie, thou are no thy-lane, In proving foresight may be vain: The best laid schemes o' Mice an' Men, Gang aft agley, An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain, For promis'd joy!
Robert Burns, "To a Mouse" circa 1785
--
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Mike W. wrote:

snip the tool neener ; )

Preface - I'm most definitely NOT a pro - maybe an intermediate novice.
If you're only going to make one piece - over and over and over again - by the third or fourth one you'll "get it" - but only for that design/piece. I'm guessing that most of us seldom make many things twice so the "it" is NOT getting to the end of a project without screwing up somewhere along the way, but rather to learn AND LATER REMEMBER TO USE what we've learned. It's a cumulative thing - the more you do the more opportunities for "learning experiences/challenges". The more you know the more you know you don't know much.
A set of plans, preferably a set of "good but never perfect" plans can be a good starting point for a project.
But, - if you take it as gospel, - cut all the parts like they're shown on the parts/cut list/diagrams - use all the dimensions shown on the plan and all the details diagrams - don't make any mistake in ripping, cross cutting, dadoing, rabbetting/rebating, ... you MAY end up with an object with the same dimensions more or less as shown in the picture that may have come with The Plan. That of course assumes that you're going to paint the piece. If you're going to see the wood things get a lot more complicated. You've no doubt seen a nicely proportioned piece with nice tight joints, great little details and perfect finish - that just doesn't look right. One board in a door panel stands out like a sore thumb, the grain on a part is running opposite of the similar parallel parts. The parts selection and orientation, rather than adding to the overall detracts from it.
On the other hand, if you begin with a "plan" (how tall, how wide, how deep; how many drawers/doors/shelves) and go at it incrementally, using what you've got to point to what goes where and how next, the process becomes a feedback loop, with a full scale object to look at and take measurements from And by measurements I don't mean 26 9/32" but "this long" marked on a piece of wood, preferably the piece the part is going to be made from. And if there will be multiples of a part make one as the prototype and save the set up. If it works. THEN cut the rest with the same set up.
When you can, go with modules and use traditional joinery because they let you assemble what you've got and are self supporting/aligning - no clamps getting in the way. Modules also lower the risk factor- screw ups are limited to just one module and don't jeopordize the whole piece - save that for finishing screw ups. It's much easier to make "this" fit 'that" than to make all the parts for everything first and then try and get them all to fit together - properly.
AS others have noted, be willing to start all over if that's what's required. When stuck in a hole it's wise to stop digging. BUT - if you can turn a screw up into a "feature" - well all the better.
And if you ever make a piece that you can find absolutely no fault with - hang it up and find another vocation/ avocation cause you've wrung all the fun out of woodworking.
Aim high (and hope to wound it enough that you can run it down, kill it and eat it.)
charlie b
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<snip of good doctrine and philosophy, as usual>

Amen, Bruddah!
Experience helps you understand WHY the piece doesn't 'look quite right'.
Patriarch
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=========================Mike: I am NOT a pro... Just a hobbyist who has been serious about woodworking for over 40 years now....
BUT I too have made some colossal mistakes...the one that always comes to mind was my 1st Roll Top Desk.... The roll top section has to fit in groves routed in the sides...and they have to be perfect smooth mirror images of each other to get a smooth action... well I router the first side and it went perfect after I took my time to get my "jig" all set up and dead on... So what did I do....Of course I picked up the other side and duplicated the first....in other words had 2 left or two right hand sides... ... I will never live that one down...
I do not work from plans very much...and I always use metric measurements... easier measuring 0.250 then trying to convert fractions...
AND I always buy a little extra lumber
Bob G
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