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Fast fixes

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I had my regular six-month dental checkup and cleaning today. As always, I did the same thing you probably do before going for your checkup: I brushed my teeth really, really good to fool him into thinking I'd been a good boy for the last six months.

You and I both know this doesn't work, and we both know it doesn't fool him, but we do it anyway. So why do we bother? My theory is we do it because it works in woodworking, so why shouldn't it work with the dentist? Consider:

  • If we cut a dovetail slightly wrong and it doesn't quite fit, a sanding block can often come to the rescue. A little sanding here, a little sanding there, and that dovetail slides in perfectly. Just as if we had cut the dovetail correctly earlier.
  • Dado too tight? Give that board one run through the planer, take off a nano-fraction of an inch and bingo, bango - perfect fit.
  • Drill a hole and it's too small? No problem. Just clamp a piece of scrap over the hole, re-mark the spot on top of the scrap and drill again. Presto! Good as new, as if you never messed it up in the first place.

Situations like these and countless others in woodworking can be fixed after the fact so well, that it can fool anyone into thinking we'd done everything right all along. No wonder we expect our dentist to be fooled by a similar after-the-fact attempt to hide six months of bad habits with one extra-thorough brushing, just like drilling that second hole.

I wonder if nonwoodworkers do the same thing.

Worse, I wonder if my dentist does.

Till next time,



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