Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mistakes were made

In The Joiner and Cabinet Maker, a careless journeyman named Bill Sharp is "dismissed". He creates a cabinet both quickly and "very well", but upon delivering it, realizes he mistook a 4 for a 6 when taking notes with a nail on the bottom of his pewter tobacco box (after neglecting to take a pencil with him).

My name is Bill Sharp, and I made a mistake.  Two mistakes.  Actually, my name is not Bill Sharp, but I am willing to admit my mistakes. As Thomas learns through Bill's demise to always measure very carefully, I have learned to take great care in nailing.

A nail should not be placed too close to the edge of a board:


I am actually not sure what went wrong here, as the nail was put into the center of  the target board same as all the others.  Cranky piece of wood?  Not enough finesse with the hammer?  I am not sure.  I am also not sure what to do about this.  Its on the bottom of the box, and can be aimed towards the back, but it is still very disappointing.  I am tempted to glue a wedge onto it and shape it flush.  At any rate, I would probably have been in a good bit of trouble if I did this in a Victorian-era joiner's shop.

The other mistake is a little less ambiguous about what went wrong:



My pilot hole was obviously not plumb.  It did not go so off-course that it exited the box, but it canted the nail enough that the tip did break through.  I did not notice the nail being angled while driving it, but it must have been.  Especially when working in such thin wood, I need to ensure that pilot holes are perfectly plumb.  I did double check to make sure that the holes did not pierce the board, but I also was not drilling them the full length of the nail, only about 3/4 or so.  This is another aesthetic flaw, it does not affect the nails holding ability, but it is visible on the outside of the box and would also earn a serious punishment from a stern shop master.  I do not believe there is any way to repair this; I tried driving the nail back out with a nailset, but it was in too firmly.  I don't believe it could be pulled from above without horribly mangling the board, so this nail tip remains as a grim reminder to take the utmost care with even the most trivial tasks in joinery operations.

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