Over the last 9-10 months, I’ve constructed my first labor of love – Briana’s crib:
Over that large period of time, not only did the project grow in size, but I grew as a woodworker. When first reading through the plans for the crib, I had a very difficult time visualizing two steps ahead. This combined with a not so great plans, led to a few mistakes and more than enough frustration along the way. With those mistakes and frustrations came solutions and lessons learned. I wanted to write this post to collect those various thoughts that were significant enough to remember and lessons that were important enough to share.
- Plans – After this set of plans left quite a bit to be desired, I’m a little soured on doing projects from plans. However, this may be a case of getting what I paid for (these were cheap). I’m a little disappointed, because I’ve seen plans in $5 magazines that far surpass the $14 plans used to build this crib. The plans were also written assuming the user has very little, if no, woodworking experience. That became more annoying as I progressed, both through this project and through my skills as a woodworker.
- Cut Lists – Many people have said it many times, but I definitely now know not to cut everything to size up front. Really – they are all telling the truth.
- Dowels – This project was almost entirely comprised of dowel joints. I have come to loathe them, but they get a future second chance for two reasons: a) The joints were almost exclusively end grain to edge grain contact, and b) I made the joinery with just dowel-center pins, not with a dedicated doweling jig.
- Finishing – I still need to work on my finishing in general. I haven’t taken any pictures of the mistakes, but there are places on the crib that are darker, mostly because some shellac dripped over an edge. Part of this is because I was a little cramped in my finishing space, so I wasn’t able to view all angles of all part of the crib while I was finishing. [pipedream]A dedicated finishing room in a future shop would be great for this, I imagine. [/pipedream]
- Time – As this project drug along (as Briana aged), I felt more of a time crunch in trying to get the crib completed. This brought out some “just get it finished” tendencies that I’m not very proud of having commited. Some of them ended up not mattering, some of them ended up causing me more work later.
Looking back, there are a ton of things I would have changed, both in the design of the crib and my techniques for executing. But shouldn’t that be a positive sign of growth – the ability to look back on both successes and mistakes to see how to improve? I certainly hope so.