I just finished Chris Schwarz’s Dutch Tool Chest class at Roy Underhill’s Woodwright’s School in Pittsboro, NC. I’m not sure why I took the class. I have already built a Dutch tool chest. In fact, I worked very hard to finish it before the article came out in Popular Woodworking, October 2013. I built my chest based on a few images and various blog postings. Some sort of male pride/ego issues.
My original, 2013 Dutch tool chest.
The completed carcass:
I decided to add a drawer:
And the painted chest:
The real reason I took the class was to meet Chris Schwarz. I’ve been a fan of his for a few years and thought it would be interesting to meet the man behind the allegations. (Another reason to take the class was the chance the I might meet Megan Fitzpatrick, editor extraordinaire of the aforementioned Popular Woodworking. (I had some story ideas to pitch. (They were all rejected. (They have standards))))
Getting back to the point of the blog, the back boards of the chest require tongue and groove joints. One has some time to think about life while installing tongues and grooves onto five boards with a lightly set Stanley 48. (Time that might have been better spent concentrating on the tongues and grooves.) One thing I have been pondering is why we amateurs need to share our shortcomings as woodworkers. We get told by the likes of Chuck Bender and Garrett Hack to not share, don’t point out our flaws, don’t say why it’s less than perfect.
I have come up with what I believe are the top four reasons. They may not be the only reasons, but I hope they are.
1. We are Morons. The explanation goes something like this: “I made you this box, but the cherry has too much sap wood, the dovetail in the back under the molding is gappy and the finish didn’t quite come out as I expected. Not my best work.” This is wrong, don’t do it. Let the client (even a relative) believe it is wonderful.
2. The Preemptive Explanation. You have just built an amazing piece but there is a flaw that you know that your equally talented and informed woodworking peers will see and ridicule unless you point it out to them first and explain it away. Example: “Ya, this is that Seymour work table I built. I know I should have used satinwood but I had to use Movingui instead. I don’t think anyone will notice. It kinda looks the same” Not a good idea. Let the work speak for itself.
3. The Precautionary and/or Educational Story. True story. I was building a wall in an existing structure. To reduce scrap wood, I bought 92″ studs knowing I would still need to shorten them to 89″. I got to the job site, made a quick jig and cut 3″ off of some of the studs. Turns out most of the 92″ studs weren’t really 92″. They were plus/minus 2″. I had a similar problem with pre-made three-step stringers. These stories are educational. And precautionary. They don’t necessarily reflect badly on your skill. Maybe your judgement. These are OK to tell. Next time you try a technique you read about in a blog and it doesn’t go as described, fell free to blog about it. I will.
4. It’s just really a good story. Some times a good story is worth the humiliation of telling it. Blood shouldn’t be involved. Well, not too much blood. And it should be yours. Other people’s blood, not so funny. So next time you are in a hurry changing out your dado set and put your table saw blade in upside down with the ensuing burned wood setting off the smoke detector, tell your friends. Just not the client. Until the check clears.