Don't do what I did


Hi Gang
I was watching some home fix it on TV and noticed a number of things that they homeowners were doing completely wrong on there home remodel. It’s funny how things go,years gone by I use to watch TV shows to learn home repair and woodworking techniques and now after close to 30 years of woodworking and as a contractor I tend to watch to see what they could improve on,so I thought it might be helpful for those folks that are starting off in the woodworking world if we would share some of the things we learned not to do or not to forget to do when woodworking.

One of the early mistakes I made when I started was… I was just gathering my woodworking tools and saved up just enough to buy a lunch box planner.Oh boy this was going to make everything great ,being able to to plane wood to size.
I bought this delta planner at a garage sale that included some brand new blades ,so iIgot it home cleaned it up and thought new blades will have to cut much better,so out came the used blades and in with the new. Mistake #1 planners cut much better with the blades facing the right direction :) #2 planer blades need to be installed so the blades cut an equal amount of cut on both sizes #3 when replacing planner blades make sure you’re putting in the new blades in after adjusting your blades you put in backwords #4 Unless you want to keep clearing out the chips out of your planner and don’t want a pile of chips the size of one of the Egyptian pyramids,you need a dust collector .#5 if you’re dyslectic take pictures of things as you take them apart. :))

What’s your “don’t do what I didi story” ?

woodworking classes, custom furniture maker

19 Replies

jim I got a delta and put new blades in have to have a gage for the knifes most turn the blades around 2 sided


the biggest thing i can think of is don’t be in such a hurry and forget to put the safety guards back on.

Jeff Vandenberg aka "Woodsconsin"

Good input guys

woodworking classes, custom furniture maker

Good subject Jim. I could come with a list but the most recent one was involving my thickness planer. I have it setting next to my table saw and I had a very bad habit of placing things on whichever one I am not working on. I placed my remote on the in feed while sawing and somehow it got bumped just out of sight. I then turned and ran the piece I was working on through and CRUNCH, requiring a new remote and turning the planer blades. Now I lean over and look before I start it.


Hahahaha! Great story! I find that jigsaws work much better with the blade facing in the right direction as well! ;-)

Amor Vincit Omnia

Good stuff folks,been there done that.

woodworking classes, custom furniture maker

I’ve made a few cuts with the tension arm of my band saw at half mask. Nothing exciting happened, but . . . . Now, I have a rule that helps me remember – If the light is off, the saw isn’t ready.

my planer won’t work without the guards on. It wasn’t terribly expensive, The guards are plastic, the little tabs are broken, I’ve had to make new tabs from wood screws…I hate that machine. If it wasn’t so awesome, I’d sell it.

-- Alec (Friends call me Wolf, no idea why)

I have the same rule ,if the lights out in the shop my shop isn’t ready LOL
It sounds like a love-hate relationship,you’ve got going on with that planer.

woodworking classes, custom furniture maker

P.S. – it was mast, not mask.

Jim – your story made me laugh. It really took me back to when I just up and left Costco, with no experience, and started home repair and remodeling. I bought some very basic tools and a cheap tool belt from Kmart, as well as a couple of “how to fix everything” books from Home Depot.

The first time I used my circular saw, I couldn’t figure out why it cut so poorly. I am sure you already figured out I had installed the blade backwards!

We all have come a long way;)

Todd A. Clippinger Share the Love - Share the Knowledge

Ha Ha that’s a good one Todd ,I came close to that a couple times.

woodworking classes, custom furniture maker

About four years ago, I was helping a guy who called himself The Affordable Handyman. The first job we worked was filling one inch gaps in exterior trim.

To my amazement, he filled the huge gaps with latex caulk, without any foam or other backer. Needless to say, if it didn’t all fall out (it was cold enough out the caulk was thicker, so stiffer than usual, it was going to shrink a lot, as it dried.

To add to matters, the genius, in the course of caring for his customers, insisted I paint it, just as soon as he was done filling the gaps. He got miffed when I refused (I could never pull that kind of crap on a customer).

Back to The Affordable Handyman, we were to paint an interior. He took it upon himself to save the landlord money by using paint on the “handyman” had on hand. This meant mixing several partial gallons.

First off, the color was criminal. When the landlord saw the completed kitchen, he said “hell no.” Continuing in his genius fashion, he grabbed several partial gallons of off white. The color wasn’t bad. However, the gallons were of different sheens (flat, satin, semi-gloss and gloss), and there wasn’t enough. Needless to say, touch ups just weren’t going to happen.

The sad thing is, most of his problem was ego. He knew I was more knowledgeable on paint matters, but would not defer. After all, it was his business and he was the expert. In the end, I painted the kitchen FIVE times. The last was unadulterated, semi-gloss off-white.

The simple of the foregoing is:

- Never choose a paint color for a customer.

- Never mix sheens (you’ll end up with a flat gloss, which comes nowhere close to satin, eggshell or semi-gloss).

- Follow use directions on products, like caulk. That is, use foam backer or other filler for large gaps and allow caulk to dry, before painting over it.

Wow that’s defiantly not high-end work Kelly,glad you refused to participate in that kind of work.

woodworking classes, custom furniture maker

Kelly – sounds like you experienced something similar to me in my early days. The over-arching lesson I learned was that sometimes we learn how to do things correctly from great craftsmen, and sometimes we learn how NOT to do things from absolute hacks.

Todd A. Clippinger Share the Love - Share the Knowledge

Beware of routers. I was rushing to finish an order and had several 2.5" circles cut from 1/2" wood that I wanted to round over the edges. My router was mounted in a table so I thought no problem, just hold the wood down with my forefinger and turn it with the other hand. Of course the wood kicked out and my finger entered the bit. Lost most of the nail, a little bone and a lot of skin. After a trip to the ER and a few days later, I needed to finish the order so back to the shop where I discovered a spray of blood across the wall and pieces of my skin stuck to the router table. That is not conducive to creating an eagerness to begin. This time I used a 1" dowel with 2 finish nails in the end and the nails ground to a point. I could hold the wood down and turn it without getting close. Just goes to show that we should never get in a hurry. They told me that in about 20 yrs, I should get most of the feeling back in my finger but hasn’t happened yet.

Bingo! on setting all cutters to same height. I am going to ADD “jointers” to this thread as well. My 8" jointer, with it’s 40-cutter spiral head can be a bear too. My biggest mistake with this jointer was trying to get TOO MUCH MILEAGE out of each cutter face (remembering that each carbide cutter has 4-sides).

Why is this a problem? Staying with one cutter face(#1-side) too long will make cutter faces #2 and #4 “narrower”, and this seems to now produce more very light lines on the wood being jointed. Not a major issue, but one has to remember that sanding then becomes a mandatory part of each jointed side. Much like having a couple of chips in your 3-blade planer that produces similar lines, but not as many as a spiral head IMO.