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Just one small tweak…

Small tweaks to projects are often necessary, but they never take long. Except when they do.

Tweaking in-progress work is probably one of the most frequent things we do. A little cut here, a bit of smoothing or tapering there, and maybe shaving something to fit somewhere else. They’re minor, take seconds, and you’re back on track. But sometimes you – or, at least, I – completely underestimate the scope of the tweak that’s needed.

My wife wanted a long, simple shelf hung from one of our walls. Easy work, but the shelf location presented a problem. When drywalling, contractors sometimes create joints between two sheets that don’t, for whatever reason, have thinner edges for taping and mudding that leave a level surface. Without those tapered edges, they have to tape over an already level joint, creating a small hump that is feathered out with plaster. Afterward, it all blends in over the expanse of the wall and you never know it’s there – that is, unless you want to hang a shelf right on that spot.

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Then, that humped joint acts like a fulcrum and the shelf teeters back and forth on it. That’s exactly what happened with Sally’s shelf. The quick fix for this is to just lightly plane the back of the shelf where it meets that hump in the wall, allowing it to sit flush.

Normally for things like this I’d use the wall itself to scribe a line on the workpiece, and then trim to it. But I was working alone, the shelf was too long to easily hold in place, and I was concerned about marking up the wall fumbling it around, so I just eyeballed it.

But this particular drywall hump was wider (and thicker) than I thought. I planed a little bit, test fit the shelf, and it wasn’t enough so I did it again. And again. And again. As you can see from that photo above, I ended up doing it a lot. In the end, it turned out just right and the shelf now hugs the wall like it was born there. But it took an excruciating series of “small tweaks” to get it that way.

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