Friday, December 21

Haste Makes Waste

As the old adage warns, rushing through things creates problems that will either take more time to fix than doing it right the first time would have or diminish the quality of your work. It is an adage I frequently quote to others, but today I find I need someone to remind me.

Over the past few days I’ve been rushing to get these tray tables completed and out the door in time for Christmas delivery. But in my haste I’ve made a few errors – nothing damaging yet, just missed steps that when done in the proper order take only moments to complete but when done later in the process take considerably more time. Therefore I have been seeing that goal slipping farther and farther away. Today is the last day for meeting that goal, and it’s not looking good.

Today I’ve been finish sanding and shooting lacquer on Scott’s tables. I always do the finish sanding by hand for several reasons. One is that I can be better assured that I will not end up with swirls or cross grain scratches that show up only after a stain or finish have been applied. Another is that I use the intimate contact with the piece to conduct a detailed inspection, looking closely at and feeling the wood with my other hand. I often catch small things; a rough spot or ding that would have gotten overlooked otherwise. A little extra sanding now prevents time consuming patches to the finish later.

It’s quite humid today, so the lacquer is drying more slowly than normal; another wrench in the works. But at least in our new workshop we (finally!) have a finishing room that is separate and closed off from the rest of the shop. I can shoot finish in there and while it’s drying go back and sand or build and not have to worry about the wood dust ruining the wet finish. Until recently finishing day meant thoroughly vacuuming the entire shop, putting away all tools, draping drop cloths over everything and doing NO woodworking at all until the finishing was done and dry.

I’m very grateful for our finishing room, even if it’s not quite complete yet. Completing it and several other chores yet do be accomplished means taking time away from the woodworking and working on the workshop. There are several fixtures in there that need to be removed to create more space for finishing large pieces. But I have plenty of room for tray tables on our finishing spinner. So while waiting for the lacquer on Scotts tables to dry I can be finish sanding Cheryl’s tables, thus making some headway there too.

Our standard lacquer finish means shooting one full coat, letting it dry and shooting a second coat. When that one is dry I scuff sand the piece with a very fine sanding sponge. Again, while I’m sanding with one hand the other trails along behind to check for missed spots. Scuffing lacquer produces a wonderfully smooth finish but without a lot of gloss. Then I tack it off and it goes back into the booth for a third and final coat of lacquer.

This is my last workday before Smoky Mountain Woodworks closes for the Christmas holiday. I’ll be back next Wednesday (God willing) and hopefully I’ll be all rested up and ready to get back to working efficiently.

Merry Christmas!


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