The devil you know

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When big things go wrong with a project I take full blame. But when it comes to little details, I swear that someone else pushes me into mistakes.

As David DeCristoforo noted in his most recent blog, “the devil is in the details,” and he’s absolutely right. Boy, do I hate that guy. No, not David. The other guy. Unfortunately, the other guy likes to visit my woodshop a lot.

He typically shows up when I’m struggling with a difficult step in a project design, and his suggestions always seem to make sense. On these occasions he makes himself look like Norm Abram, being all friendly and beardy and stuff, offering pointers to “help” me through my dilemma. Of course, his suggestions never work and I always regret it. But the disguise makes him seem so sincere!

Other times he doesn’t offer help at all, but just suddenly appears right about the time I’m already doing something stupid and nods in approving encouragement to whatever stupid thing I’m doing. (He always looks like Tim Allen on those occasions.)

And as the saying goes, it’s almost always about little details that end up having big consequences. That table I spoke of last time that was too tall? Obviously his suggestion. Distracting me right after sanding a finish coat, making me forget to wipe the sanding dust off before recoating? Yeah, him again. Putting a table saw blade in backward? Guess who. Having to go get three stitches after dropping a router on my head? Yep, him agai– Oh, wait; no, that one was my own fault.

Fortunately I don’t make a lot of big mistakes in the shop, so I’m thinking that those are the times when I had no influence from this guy. Big mistakes would be too obvious, and I guess he knows it. On the other hand, I tend to make a lot of little “detail” mistakes. And because they’re so little, they usually tend to happen before I realize it. Those have got to be all him.

And I suspect he’s proud of it.

A.J.

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