Weve discussed bad shop habits here before, but Ive never mentioned what I think is my worst one: Taking just one more step in a project to make it better, and messing it up.
Theres an old saying about leaving well enough alone. Thats good advice for most things, but for us woodworkers well enough isnt always good enough. It almost never is for me.
I was completing a project this week for my new book, and one of the last steps before final finishing was to face-glue some decorative trim to a component. This trim mimicked that of an original piece I was reproducing, which was also face-glued. To my mind, simple face-gluing isnt the strongest of joints, in spite of the fact that on my original piece that trim has been glued just fine exactly that way for more than a century, with hide glue no less. Even though I was using a much stronger modern glue, it still wasnt good enough for me. Nope. I decided Id reinforce that glue joint with a hidden 23-gauge pin from the back. Great idea, or so I thought, but I got the angle slightly wrong. Instead of keeping the pin within the thickest part of the trim, by missing the exact angle I shot it through the front of the trim.
The pin protrudes by such a tiny amount that its impossible to grasp with pliers and pull it out. The only way to remove it would be to dig it out, and thus destroying the trim. Because Im on a schedule to get the project done, I instead sanded the pin flush and applied my clear-coat finish to the project. The pin still shows, and it was really obvious in the beauty shot I took that will be the lead photo for the project. Fortunately, Im pretty handy with Photoshop and easily made that pin disappear in the photo, so theres no harm done to the published aspect of the project.
Still, Photoshop doesnt work in Real Life (oh, man, wouldnt that be nice!), so I cant really do anything with the finished piece itself unless I repair it. When I have the time Ill remove the damaged trim, repair that component, glue on new trim and refinish. Needless to say, I wont use a pin.
The lesson is that sometimes things just cant be made better. Sometimes, the way you did them is not only good enough, its perfect.
If thats the case, leave it alone.
Till next time,