Frequent Woodworking Mistakes

dohThink you are the only one who makes mistakes? Think again! Yesterday, I asked folks on Twitter, Facebook and in The Wood Whisperer Community what mistakes they make most often. Here’s some of the highlights:

  • “Purchasing an overwhelming tool… most recently Leigh Dovetail Jig…. uggg”KN_SSA-r
  • “measure once, cut twice.”Yucatandan
  • “Measuring twice doesn’t help if you only think once…”Torch02
  • “doing ‘just one more thing’ when tired. Always leads to disaster. Go upstairs and sleep, bozo…” - jmk89
  • “underestimating the time needed to complete and overestimating my ability to get the job done”FredCannon
  • “mis-measuring in some subtle way (e.g. missing kerf or reading wrong side of line)”- Cyface
  • “buying new tools before learning what my current tools are capable of accomplishing (and, thus, spending money I don’t have).”CogWheelBrain
  • “I jump in to bigger projects than I can do and get discouraged too quickly.”michaelbclark
  • “Woodworking mistakes? Let’s just say I can’t count the mistakes on my fingers.”Aquapasture
  • “Drips and runs in the finish” - Dbingham
  • “Letting my mind go 100MPH … hands can’t keep up thou…lol…I NEED TO SLOW DOWN :)”Lubos Kuzma
  • “Not spending enough money for tools. The single worst thing I’ve done (repeatedly, unfortunately), is thinking that a cheap tool will work just as well as the good tool.” - Carlos Alvarez
  • “chipout on the corner of a board from hand planing or routing…”Matt Berger
  • “Not buying enough raw material… always have to go back to get more. Should know by now LOL”- Andreas Schwall
  • “Trying to do everything with power tools when they should be done with hand tools”Matt Rakowski
  • “Trying to keep all the good wood for yourself when you are building a project for a customer.” - Thomas Elliot Glynn
  • “Having 5 projects going at once in my 1 project workshop…(and occasionally finishing one).”Gary Aurora
  • “Either under-buying wood and then struggling to match grain and color later or over-buying and ending up with too much but not quite enough for another project.”Allen in Ohio

And this has to be my personal favorite:
“jeez, all of the above… I suck… B-/” - Bob Daniel

See! You’re not the only one who makes mistakes. :)

Category: Musings


  1. John Bratton May 19, 2009

    Never buying enough wood.

  2. Ed Liptrap May 19, 2009

    Getting a little over confident and thinking I can get away with not using a test piece to check my setup because I’m dialed in today!!! lol

    • Marty May 19, 2009

      I have to second this one. Especially on the router table.

  3. Great list… except for that last one… that guy sucks… hey, wait just a minute…

    And actually, unlike KN_SSA-r I LOVE my Leigh dovetail jig… and the exact opposite of Matt Rakowski, I am more likely to build a jig to cut something on the table saw when just reaching for the hand saw would take 2 minutes. And probably work out better… B-)

      thewoodwhisperer May 19, 2009

      Yeah and for the record, I also LOVE my Leigh Dovetail Jig. Pretty much any dovetail jig is confusing at first….. But that’s why I read the instruction manual EVERY time I use it, lol.

  4. Letting someone talk me out of doing something that I know I really can do. The number of people who come out of the woodwork to say that something isn’t possible is truly amazing. Anything is possible if you’re determined.

  5. Mike T May 20, 2009

    The one mistake I seem to make, is when I need help I ask the wrong person. Instead of help I get a lecture or they just feel the need to give their insight. When will I learn.

  6. JC May 20, 2009

    Browsing woodworking catalogs and buying stuff instead of getting into the workshop and USING the tools I already have to build something.

  7. Eric Sweeney November 11, 2009

    Changing a measurement on something for some reason midproject and then not completely accounting for that change in all of the other pieces. I need to get better at making plans that account for everything so that I don’t have to make a change halfway through and then stick with that plan.

  8. Making a cut on the wrong side of the line!

    i now make little arrow marks on the side of the line to reference the cut from.

  9. Marjan Milankovski January 10, 2010

    When you burn yourself on the milk you end up blowing on the yogurt from then on.

    My biggest vice is not using a marking scribe and rely on my pencil for marking.
    Works awesome for the first few dozen lines and then instead of resharpening I go “she’ll be right” and carry on. So the line gets bigger and bigger as the project progresses.

    More than once I had my tight tolerance cuts and fits be off by a pencil width.

  10. Frank August 18, 2012

    Measure 247 times, cut once!

  11. Gary Bell August 26, 2012

    How about not retracking the tape measure before engaging the chop saw.?

  12. Mattah September 12, 2012

    Not taking small details into account and telling your wife “this should be done in two hours tops”

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