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Making mistakes

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Sometimes it’s just not possible to know what something will look like or how it’ll work until it’s done. And sometimes, only then do you know you did it wrong.

A good example of this was the wedding box I told you about last Friday that I designed to look like a miniature dowry chest. I looked at several dozen photos of such chests online and, using aspects I liked from a couple of them, drew up a sketch of what I wanted it to look like. Once satisfied with the design, I did some light math to figure out proportions for my scaled-down version. When I was done it looked perfect.

It looked perfect on paper, that is; when the box was done, not so much. A feature of the chests I looked at that I like a lot was a mitered skirting around the bottom. A cutout on the underside of each skirt piece created feet at the corners that visually raised the piece. But on my miniature version those mitered skirting pieces were just too thick. I hated it immediately, and even my wife commented on it when she first saw it.

The fix was easy – I just ran the box through the table saw four times to shave off about 1/8” or maybe 3/16” off the skirting on each side. This altered the roundover I’d put on the top edges of that skirting, but I liked the new profile better. And removing that small amount of material was all it took to make the proportions exactly right.

The thing of it is, is that I took another look at my drawing and the original skirting still looked fine. There was no way to really tell it wasn’t until I had the physical results of that drawing completed and setting on my assembly bench.

They say you learn by doing, and that you particularly learn from your mistakes. I guess I can’t argue with that.

Till next time,


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