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    Bookends: Large lessons from a small project

    Originally posted on FineWoodworking.com

    After finishing the bookcase in my previous post I realized that I needed a couple of bookends to hold up the books. I thought a quick and easy project which actually means I do not need to plan this one out. This was my first mistake, always plan what you are going to do.

    I did not want a butt joint on the end so I decided a miter corner would look nicer and I could dado the upright in without a problem. Using some ash from the book case and cherry from another project I was keen to get going. Mistake two but we all know that one.

    I setup the dado blade using the method of doing test cuts on a scrap till you get a perfect fit. I spent time doing this and got a perfect fit. Next up was cut the miters and that all went smoothly. I even got the grain to match nicely. So onto glue up. Wait I need to sand first. So out came the smoothing plane and the sand paper. Then only did I realized my third mistake. I did not realize how much you take off with smoothing and sanding even though I was taking off very thin slithers with the smoothing plane and kept the sanding to 200 grit paper by hand. Now the once tight dado joints were loose and the once perfect miters were not so perfect.

    It was not a major project and I had gone to far not to complete it. I was able to mask some of the mistakes but it does leave a bitter after taste knowing you messed up.

    Always finish your wood before cutting the dados because you will be surprised how much you can land up taking off. I suppose you can also make sure that your thickness planer leaves a surface that does not need very much finishing which would minimize the risk factor.

    So from this small simple project I learnt 3 valuable lessons. I hope this prevents someone else from making the same mistake.