Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Adding To The Adage

We all know it well. The clever little saying, “Measure Twice & Cut Once”. It has a nice little ring to it and if you take it to heart and follow this age old adage you will rarely make a mistake. “Rarely” being the operative word for this post.

I decided to go ahead and make the doors for the two cabinets in the bathroom. Originally the plan was to do wood raised panel doors but I switched to glass front doors instead. I felt the small cabinet was too narrow for a raised panel. Since that cabinet would have a glass front I wanted both to have the same style front. I'm going to try and find some nice obscure glass so you won’t see what’s in them. Who wants to look at a can of Comet and a toilet plunger when you’re sitting on the can?

The first one went fine. I made the two rails and two stiles. I routed a rabbit to accept the glass on the back and I put a little bevel on the front to give it some detail. You can see from the picture above that the raised panel would have been very narrow. It seemed it would not have been much of a panel. Maybe it would have been fine, who knows.

Any way, on to the second cabinet. I don’t know how it happened but I wrote down the wrong height. I was off by exactly 6-inches. I don’t know what the hell I did. I measured that thing several times. I’m anal that way. It was 35 & 7/8ths inches, but for some reason I wrote down 29 & 7/8ths inches. There was no other measurement even close to 29 & 7/8ths inches on the cabinet. I just pulled that number out of my you know what.

I happily went about assembling the frame flush with the confidence I had from making the first one so well. It wasn’t until I took it in the house to try and fit it to the cabinet that I realized my mistake.


So let’s go ahead and update the old saying right now. “Measure twice and WRITE IT DOWN CORRECTLY YOU STUPID IDIOT and cut once”. Hmmm, doesn’t quite have the same charm to it, does it.

I actually screwed up the rails on this one and had to do them over. I guess I didn’t tighten down the router bit all the way (scary thought) and it rose up a bit while I was cutting the rabbit for the glass. So that mistake in the picture equals more work than it really looks like.

Once I took it in the house I had to laugh about this one. I mean, 6-inches isn’t even in the ball park. There is no sugar coating this one: I screwed up. The question then became, how do I fix. I could make another door, but I hate doing work over, and after I had the router mishap with the rails, this was a big do-over.

Instead of make a higher door, I decided to add a drawer. I’ve never made a drawer before and I needed the practice, so this was a good opportunity. Well, it turned out to be a major hassle. First off, it’s a corner cabinet, so that means a triangle shaped drawer. Actually, it turned out to be a sort of pentagram shaped drawer. I got it done though, and the drawer came out good.

The next sep was to add another rail to separate the drawer from the door below. This was a major, major hassle. Mainly it was a hassle for the way I went about trying to do it. I tried to use my handy-dandy little pocket screw jig and it just didn’t work at all. The pocket screws are great if you can clamp at least one of the work pieces to a work bench and then attach the other piece to it. I couldn’t do that with the cabinet because it was already built.

The other problem was trying to screw in the screws from the back side. If you tighten them down too much you can rip out the pocket. I couldn’t really see what I was doing and the cabinet is too small for me to get in. I ripped out the right-hand pockets with the first rail I tried to attach. That should have been a clue that this was not going to work.

With the second attempt I was able to attach the rail with out ripping out the pockets but the rail was far from flush with the rest of the face frame. This is why you clamp one piece to a work surface. This should have been a second indication that it was not going to work. When I tried to use clamps to bring it flush I ripped out the screw from the pockets. The only fortunate thing so far was that I hadn’t damaged the cabinet, only this new rail.

My third attempt….what’s that old saying about repeating the same thing over and over and expecting different results….yea, I was pretty much going insane at this point. The corner cabinet was hard enough to build and now I was getting close to butchering it because I was bound and determined to use the pocket screw jig. It wasn’t going to work but it took me three tries to figure that out.

I finally ended up using glue blocks and brads to secure the rail to the rest of the frame. It took all of about 2 minutes to complete. I’m not exaggerating. I spent 2 minutes cutting two 4-inch long blocks, slather on some glue, and firing in 4 inch and a half brads. This after I spent several hours cutting and re-cutting, and drilling and re-drilling rails to use with the pocket screws. There’s a lesson here somewhere, but I’m too pissed off about the whole thing to think of it.

Tomorrow I’ll make some guides for the drawer and then try and forget about this whole ugly incident. Oh yea, and the drawer turned out to be so small that it will be all but useless.


Brooklyn Row House said...

Heh. We should get together and coin a new disease: MADD (Measuring Attention Deficit Disorder). Then we can have a telethon to finance the design of a tape measure which prints a receipt.

When I was cutting the sill for one of the windows in the bedroom reno I managed to cut the sill short by eight inches. Why? Because I remembered the inner dimension which I would cut out later. Making matters worse was that I was using a $25 oak stair tread for the sill.

What could be worse that that? Doing it twice in a row. Yup.

Greg said...

Operators are standing by…

John said...

I feel your pain. When we added the additions to the Devil Queen, we decided to install salvaged double hung windows. The contractor asked how big they were and I gave him the perfect measurements - as long as you didn't actually want weights. So, I got reframe both windows myself since we didn't catch it until six months after the contractor had finished. And, my wife nearly murdered me.

Maybe it's the season or the stars are misaligned. Everything I touched yesterday went to shit in a heartbeat. Definately a should-have-stayed-in-bed day.

Anonymous said...

How about a false drawer front? That would have been easy. You do such nice work...

derek said...

I try to scribe measurements as much as possible. If you're holding it against the finished piece, it's harder to make a mistake. Story poles work well too, as long as you label everything right. I still get measurements wrong though too... I think everyone does.

Greg said...

Thanks for the moral support all. It’s nice to know I’m not alone with my screw-ups. I came very close to doing a false front drawer after I saw how small it was going to be, but what’s done is done.