Measure twice, cut once

VD-22

Is this an oversized mortice or undersized tenon?

The title of this post is not just a good book or a clever saying, it’s a good principal to apply.  Too bad I didn’t take this advice at this stage of my dresser project.  I first noticed this error as I was performing a test fit of the joint.  The mortices were in the wrong places and I was confused about how until I turned the divider around.  I accidentally marked the locations of the mortices in the sub-top with the vertical divider backwards.  After attempting to kick myself in my backside (and failing), I decided to come up with a better plan.  Repair.

VD-23

All of the mortices were off location (picture taken after the repair process started), some more than others.  You may also notice the missing knots.  This piece is the sub-top, so only the front edge and end grain edges will be visible.  The knots were annoying me while planing the board, so I knocked them out.

I will not over-dramatize the error.  It is simple enough to fix and this joint will be completely hidden.  Even still, it is a good “opportunity” to practice making good repairs.  I’ve learned two really good tips on repairs (from forgotten references) that I will pass along here.

1 – Save all off-cuts, no matter how small.

2 – Repair the “end grain” surfaces

VD-24

See the scrap pieces placed between the tenons.  I’ll use them to make the repair.

Thankfully I have not had a bonfire since cutting out the tenons.  I dug in my scrap bin and pulled out the sections that were sawed away from the tenons.  I then layed them out where each piece originated.  Hopefully the pieces I have will be in the location of the gaps.

VD-25

Next I put the joint back together and opened up the mortices enough that the vertical divider fit in the sub-top.  Then I marked the sizes for my repair pieces.  I attempted to use the scrap that came from that location and orient it the same way it came from the board.

VD-26

I took the scrap piece to my bench hook and cut it to size.  I used a chisel to trim it for an easy (loose) fit.  The joint will be tightened up with the wedge during assembly.

VD-27

Here is my fitted repair block.  I’l now mark the block and save it aside. There is no sense in glueing them in place yet.  I’ll add the repairs when I add the wedges during assembly.  That will be an anxious time for sure!

Gaps that were less than ~1/4 inch will be filled with a wedge during assembly.  I will probably end up using 2 wedges on most of these tenons.  Of course, this error happened as I was congratulating myself on dovetailing all four corners without messing them up.  Pride comes before a fall.

Bob Jones

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3 thoughts on “Measure twice, cut once

  1. Mike

    I think that part of the value of woodworking, in addition to the joy of creation by one’s own hand, is that it is very humbling!

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Assembling the dresser – moment of truth | The Christian Tool Cabinet

  3. Pingback: Recap errors and how I “fixed” them | The Christian Tool Cabinet

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