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Playing the odds

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Woodworking sometimes plays out like a day in Las Vegas.

The lottery people always say, “You can’t win if you don’t play.” But if the game is woodworking and you’re a woodworker, you simply have to play the game. To that end, allow me to lend a bit of help. After decades in the shop I’ve become familiar with some odds and percentages.

In spite of having hundreds of pieces of scrap, the chance of finding the piece you need: zero percent.

After cutting fresh stock, when putting the offcut in the scrap pile the chances of just happening across the piece that would have worked: 100 percent.

Odds are 100 to 1 that a dropped screw will fall into a bench dog hole. Odds of that screw falling to the floor without otherwise getting lost in whatever is stashed under/inside your bench: 1 in a 100.

Chances of having just enough finish in an almost-empty can to complete a project are 50/50.

If you make a special trip to buy a new can because you’re afraid the almost-empty one won’t be enough, chances of not needing it after all are 50/50.

If you consider getting a new can, but don’t, there’s a 100-percent chance you’ll run out.

At some point when designing something new, there’s a 100-percent chance of being frustrated at some point during the construction.

Swearing that you’ll never try something new with a project design: 100 percent.

Chances that you’ll do it all again anyway: 100 percent.



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