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Cheat sheets

Some things are so simple that they’re impossible – in my shop, anyway – to remember.

I can remember the most arcane stuff from the most obscure movie, full lyrics to TV show themes half a century old, directions to places I haven’t been in a decade, even my first phone number (PR1-4634… yes, they had letters at the beginning back then). But when it comes to remembering simple little procedures in the shop, I need help.

Cutting crown molding flat on a miter saw? It’s easy: 33.9° bevel, 31.6° miter, and take turns putting the top and bottom edge against the fence. But unless I refer to those simple directions on the Post-It Note I stuck inside a shop cabinet, it’d take hours of trial and error to get it right.

For wiring a lamp, the white wire is neutral and the black one hot. That couldn’t possibly be easier to remember, but I can’t. That’s why I wrote that right on the side of my electrically supplies box in permanent marker.

Which way does the router bit spin? If I hadn’t marked an arrow permanently on the top of all my routers, I’d have to look at the bit every single time I used it to jog my memory on that simple little item.

Yeah, I have cheat sheets and reminders all over the shop for these and dozens more similar things, and I refer to them constantly or else I simply wouldn’t get it right. On the other hand, if you wanted to know the entire opening song to “Mr. Ed,” I’m your guy.

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