How to fix 10 Common Woodworking Mistakes

3. Eliminating Gaps in Face Frame Joints

Face frames are the narrow pieces of wood that cap the front edges of cabinet bodies, and it’s easy to miscut face frame rails so they don’t fit tightly with their neighbouring stiles. If the gap is 1/32″ or less, don’t toss the piece of wood into the scrap heap. Instead, get your pipe clamps out. You’d be surprised how far you can pull in a set of stiles so they fit tight and gap-free against the ends of an otherwise loose rail between them. As added insurance that these joints stay together after the clamps come off, reinforce them with 1/4″ dowels. Drill a hole down the middle of the joint, swab in some glue, then tap the dowel into place. The result is an easily cut, simple tenon that helps keep rails and stiles united, even if you did need to draw them together under a bit of pressure. It’s an easy way to create a kind of tiny mortise-and-tenon joint.

4. Adjusting a Too-Deep Hinge Pocket

When you are installing small butt hinges, it’s easy to chisel the hinge pockets too deep. In fact, it’s quite likely you’ll make this mistake as you’re learning to install cabinet doors. Cardboard pieces from cereal boxes make excellent shims for raising hinges to the level they should be. Set one or two into place, then drive screws right through the cardboard and into the door frame. If you cut the shims to the right size, no one will ever know.

5. Removing Mystery Glue Smears

Some of the nastiest finishing surprises often don’t appear until you’re putting stain or sealer on wood. That’s when hidden bits of smeared glue become very obvious, because they don’t absorb finishing liquids at the same rate as the surrounding bare wood. In fact, they might not absorb any at all, leaving you with a bright, ugly and conspicuous blemish that needs attention fast. Considering some sandpaper? Forget it. If it’s fine enough to be effective, it’s sure to get clogged with stain or urethane after just a few strokes. No, what you need is a sharp cabinet scraper. A few scrapes will get rid of the glue, even if the area is covered in wet varnish. The resulting curls of wood are easier to clean up than sanding dust would be, plus the cleaned area will match the colour of the surrounding wood more closely.

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