Shaker Step Stool – Bloopers

I’ve thought a lot about what I like most about woodworking. There is one thing, not specific just to woodworking, that keeps me engaged, enables me to feel a sense of accomplishment, and encourages me to keep coming back to the bench:


I enjoy my other hobby, fly fishing, for similar reasons. The complicated set of events that have to come together in just the right order for a perfect cast to land a fly delicately in just the right place on a stream without spooking the fish begs belief in a higher being of some sort.

Mistakes are the mother of happiness.

At times this Shaker Step Stool left me about as happy as you can be without the aid of chemicals.

Of course if you aren’t looking for the errors, it looks just fine. Plus even with the gaps in the joints, it ought to be good for a hundred years or so.


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8 Responses to Shaker Step Stool – Bloopers

  1. jbeal32014 says:

    I think the attitude among journeyman (person?) woodworkers is to never point out your mistakes. One of the things you do as you increase your skill, of course, is to discover how to correct (or cover up) your mistakes. Also, people in the know (chiefly, other woodworkers) will see them soon enough without your pointing them out; the uninitiated can just enjoy the piece for its simple form and solid construction.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wesley Beal says:

      That may be true. Perhaps because I’m still so new at this, I’m far more interested than disappointed in my mistakes. I think today most of us are exposed to woodworking as a craft by television programs, and I think we all suffer by never seeing the mistakes made there.

      “Now next, all you do is [expert somehow rip-cuts 4 feet board in 3 saw strokes] place this new piece in your vise, and start chopping out the mortise [whack, whack, whack]. There. All done, and it fits… perfectly. Really simple when you take it one step at a time. Just three more pieces like that to go…..”

      We could all learn a lot more I think by seeing a few more mistakes being made.


  2. ctregan says:

    Well it is a stool, if you make it too perfect – no one will want to step on it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wesley Beal says:

      It was incredible how much better the dovetails kept getting. I mean, they weren’t perfect, but they were much better and came much easier as I went along. In the future I’ll start out on scrap and “warm up” with a few.


  3. snwoodwork says:

    I’m thinking full blind dovetails might be the best bet. You can over cut & whatever else & no one’s the wiser.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Tha’s a great way to see it. I like how you’ve captured the woodworkers obsessiveness here. On close inspection we see all our mistakes. Take a step back and they (almost) disappear.


    • By “almost” I meant that in our own minds, we always keep a catalogue of our own errors, even if other people can’t see them. Bordering on philosophical insight…

      Liked by 1 person

      • Wesley Beal says:

        I agree. I think we see our projects in the same manner we see ourselves. “Other people” can often seem like they’re just moving through life on a solid plan. You don’t see their doubts, second guesses, or efforts.

        But without mistakes there really isn’t any joy to be had. Imagine if you decided one morning that you’d like to take up woodworking and do something with wood, and it just worked, turned out exactly like you imagined it? What would be the point?

        So why show people just the parts that worked right? It really isn’t the interesting part of the process, really isn’t even worth talking about.

        Back to reality, it is a good impression, and when you know yourself what it takes to do a good job it is an excellent introduction. Once you reach a point that you actually wish to be recognized for the skills you have developed it’s also probably a good direction to go in.

        But after introductions are made it’s not really anything that interesting to talk about.

        Liked by 1 person

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