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Breaking the rules

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Don’t you love it when you see someone break the rules, and then watch as they get nailed for it? Me, too. Of course, it’s all a matter of perspective.

As I approached an intersection yesterday the light started to change. I wasn’t anywhere near the intersection, and knowing the light would be red long before my car got there I started slowing down. Seeing this, the idiot behind me pulled around and speeded up to beat the light. It turned red as he entered the intersection, but he made it through safely. What this knucklehead failed to notice, however, was the police car sitting right there at the light on the cross street. The cop was on him in two seconds – the cop’s light had just turned green, remember – and I cheered out loud.

As big a kick as I got out of this, I couldn’t help thinking about morality lessons of the he-who-is-without-sin persuasion. Ya know, I sometimes break the rules in my shop, and sure don’t want to be nailed for them. It’s that perspective thing I mentioned earlier.

I don’t always let glue cure the full recommended length of time before moving on. Same thing for some finishes. I’ve been known to remove a guard on occasion to make a cut easier (and, sometimes, safer). When a more efficient way of doing something presents itself, I’ll ignore a traditional joinery method – a rule, of sorts – and do it the more efficient way. Sometimes, butt joints are just fine with me. In fact, about the only shop rule I never, ever break is the one about wearing these (tap-tap) safety glasses.

I sometimes get nailed for these rule infractions, like when a not-quite-ready finish reacts badly to a too-soon second or third coat. But when it comes to safety, I do try to follow the rules. When I say I sometimes remove a guard to make a cut safer, I mean that sincerely, such as in a case where visibility is compromised by the guard. Still, I’m incredibly careful whenever I circumvent a rule like that.

But I don’t think I’d ever do it when someone else was watching. Following safety rules is often most important when doing so as an example to others. To do otherwise would be like running a red light with a cop sitting there.

Till next time,


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