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I’ve ruined a lot of projects by not leaving well enough alone, but sometimes tweaking really does improve something.

Can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve overdone something – too much sanding, too much trimming, too much adjusting of a finish, too much … well, anything where I just can’t consider something “done.” In a best-case scenario the extra work amounts to just having done a lot of extra work, since the constant fiddling didn’t make anything better. In a worst-case scenario the extra tweaking ruined a perfect good initial result.

But sometimes tweaking makes a big difference. In setting up the dust collection connection to my miter saw station, I knew when I did it that it wasn’t the best job. The fitting wasn’t quite right, but since it was the only one available for what I was doing I used it and let it go, thinking I’d come back to it someday for a little tweaking.

I’ve been thinking about it ever since, and found that thinking about it instead of immediately over-tweaking it to death was the best way to go. With time on my side, I came up with a solution – essentially, I removed and cut up the fitting and combined it with a piece cut off another fitting. A bit of ABS cement and I custom-made a new fitting that works perfectly, increases the airflow from the saw’s dust port, cuts the wind noise in half, and even looks better.

I know I’ll never stop fiddling with things that were fine the first time; it’s in my nature. But perhaps if I try to not tweak right away and think about it for a while – while observing it in use – I’ll come up with a better result that, in the end, requires only a little tweaking.

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One good turn (deserves another)

I’ve ruined many a project component by going one step too far – one more pass with a sander, one more coat of finish, once more through the planer, one more tweak on a dovetail, etc. Almost always, the one more thing was one too many.