Lessons learned...or what every new woodworker should know...

Forum: Woodworking

I have been accused of having a bit of a sense of humor in the past. If I can’t laugh at myself, well, I might as well die. I compiled a short list of things every new woodworker should know. Some of them are things I have learned from experience this past month. I’ll let you decide which are real. Feel free to add.

1. Never have your hand in the path of the chisel, no matter how careful you are.

2. Keep plenty of band-aids on hand.

3. Blood doesn’t wipe off of wood. It’s much easier to sand it off after it dries.

4. The edge of a freshly cut 45° miter is very sharp. See lessons 2 and 3 above.

5. Small pieces fired out of a table saw, router, or jointer sting like hell.

6. Don’t hit your thumb with the big wooden mallet. It hurts just as bad as a hammer.

7. Pay attention to the grain pattern before jointing or planing. Yes, it matters.

8. Mitered corners suck.

9. Hand cut dovetails suck.

10. Beating your head on the workbench will not square up the corners on that mitered box that the glue is rapidly setting up on.

11. Glue dries fast.

12. Don’t use your fingers to spread the glue. See lesson 11 above.

13. If you ignored lesson 12, the skin will eventually heal.

14. Six month old grandsons cry like hell when the planer starts.

15. Table saws make some saw dust.

16. Jointers make more saw dust.

17. Planers make a hell of a lot of saw dust.

18. Cherry shavings mixed with ash shavings is kind of pretty.

19. If your son-in-law is an idiot, don’t let him near your table saw with a soda can.

20. Shoving your son-in-laws head into a running table saw is illegal in some states.

21. If you smell smoke, something is probably on fire, or you need a new saw blade.

22. If someone comes to the workshop to bug you, fire up the planer.
23. Don’t try to rout a flat edge on the end of a round oak bench dog…ever.

24. A router can fire a 6” long, ¾ “ round, oak bench dog at approximately 750 miles per hour.

25. Chiseling out the waste is not as easy as it sounds.

Where are the band-aids?---Pro Libertate!


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33 Replies

kdc68 ...

Yep !….Couldn’t have said it better myself !

Light1776 (Chris) ...

Funny, yet true.

Nicky ...

Nice list. I would now add that Measuring Sucks.

job ...

11. Only applies if you have , (a)a load of parts, (b) not enough clamps ,(c ) no help.or(d)all of above.

Tim Dahn ...

Now that’s funny :-)

MontyJ ...

Thanks for the interest folks. Sometimes you just have to laugh, even if it’s at my expense.

Some recent lessons include:

26. Never route the wrong way; trust me, it won’t end well.

27. Expect a wet spot on the front of your pants if you ignore lesson 26.

28. Don’t glue the box together until after you route the slot for the bottom.

29. If you ignored lesson 28…good luck brother. Just make another box.

30. Ash splinters take about 6 days to fester to the surface before you can dig them out.

Greg Ferdinand ...

Great list I laughed my ass off on the son in law one. Good job

BarbS ...

Excellent list. My eyes went Wide open at #23, and a wide smile of recognition at #24. Keep on keepin’ on, MontyJ!

MontyJ ...

Um, yeah, number 23. I’ll fess up to that one. I wanted flat ends on my bench dogs, and was about to use the back saw to cut them. Then I got the bright idea…“Hey, I could just zip them over the router table.”

You just have to keep in mind that I’ve never had a router in a table before and didn’t appreciate the raw power that thing has. Well, as soon as the dog touched the bit, it was over. The dog bounced off a couple of walls, the ceiling, then landed harmlessly behind the work table, where it lays to this day. It happened so fast I didn’t even have time to wet myself. But I did turn off the router and get out the saw.

Light1776 (Chris) ...

MontyJ, it’s a good thing you tried to zip them over the router table. I learn a lot from other folk’s mistakes- grin. Now I know not to try doing that.

shipwright ...

Hey Monty, that was a good learning experience. Now if you had a shaper, you would be looking for the dog outside the building because it would have gone right through the wall. :-) …………glad it missed you.

MontyJ ...

Paul, if I had a shaper I would need a battle helmet and flack jacket…or maybe one of those white suits like the Stormtroopers wore…better face protection.

Of all the tools in my shop (which aren’t many), the table saw worried me the most. It’s never fired anything at me! I keep the planer and jointer set so shallow they can’t really get a good bite on anything to launch it with any force. It takes a lot more passes, but that’s OK with me. The router looks so small and innocent under the table, but it finds new and creative ways to scare the hell out me. Number 26 above should actually read:

Never let anything get between the fence and the bit.

It’s safe to say that I have gained a very healthy respect for that devious little monster.

BarbS ...

I agree, MontyJ. Of all my equipment, the router is the one that I hate the most. Worn bit shanks, aging, slipping collets, a wrong move… scary, shrieking, nasty thing. Unless I’m doing production mode, or edging bigger items, I’ll find any way I can to substitute with hand tools! I know there are professionals with a dozen routers holding commonly used bits they rely on day in and day out, but it’s one tool I never want to become complacent with. Glad that peg missed you!

j_dubb ...

I had a minor chisel incident this weekend. Small rafter on the top of a little wishing well I’m building. I was sawing the sides for some cutouts and just using a rubber mallet to tap the chisel in underneath to pop the cutout out. The rafters had very little support so I instinctively used my other hand to support it. Of course the first whack on the chisel sent it all the through and into the heel of my hand. Another inch over and it would’ve much bloodier than it was.

Lesson learned.

MontyJ ...

Dubb, dubb, dubb…your kidding me right? I posted the list 8 days ago! Number ONE on the list!
1. Never have your hand in the path of the chisel, no matter how careful you are.

Read man, read! I’m trying to save your life here. I hope you read lesson 2. And if you come back next week complaining of a lump on your head from trying to rout a flat edge on a round bench dog, well, I’ll just wash my hands with you.