Mistakes are just part of the fun!

Mistakes are just part of the fun!

It is hard to believe, I know, but even the best cabinetmakers make mistakes. It is not called workmanship of risk for nothing!

We operate in an environment where pretty much every process is a refinement of the previous process. Raw timber is sawn, sawn timber is planed, planed timber is cut to dimension. Dimensioned pieces have surfaces planed, joints made, etc etc.

Pretty much every process carries an element of risk, and every once in a while they’ll catch you out. Worse still, the further you get, the more refined the components become and the more work there can be if you get something wrong.

A wise maker will always make a spare component just in case, like a fifth leg for example, or an extra rail. That spare component can be used to check a process. When making a joint, for example, if anything goes wrong it can be rectified before working on the final components.

Then there are the silly ones, like bashing a component against your bench (steam iron fix!), drilling the wrong sized hole (can you plug and re-drill?), planing against the grain, creating tear out (turn it around), or just missing a dimension (does it matter, was it the spare, is it too long??).

A good cabinetmaker, and even more so, a great cabinetmaker, knows that for every problem there is a solution. And rarely do they mean you have to start again. Not getting flustered, not throwing tools around, not thinking it’s the end of the world, just quietly getting on with applying the best solution to any given problem, that is the key to a great maker.

Until next time,



David established Rowden Atelier in 1995, a now world renowned fine woodworking school. Discover Rowden, the woodworking courses, and the work that students go on to do.

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