The single most common mistake in any do it yourself project is the failure to read and follow the manufacturer's instructions for any tool or material being used. Other common mistakes include taking the safety measures that are laid out for a project for granted and poor project planning. Here is a list of hints to successfully complete this project and to do it safely.

Follow the "Golden Rule" of measuring: "Measure twice, cut once." And provide yourself plenty of time for each step.

Understand your plan. Whether it’s a pre-made plan you purchased or downloaded, be sure you know the steps you have to take to finish the project. Don’t be too stringent, however. Be willing to alter your plans if needed to finish the piece in a way that’s easiest for you.

Do not neglect your tools and machinery. Make sure you take care of them with cleaning and maintenance on a regular basis. Ensure that metal surfaces are free of rust and blades are kept sharp.

Use a sharp pencil or marking knife to make layout marks on your wood. You must be able to see your markings in order to complete the piece correctly.

Use the same tape measure throughout your whole project. Unfortunately, tape measures aren’t manufactured to be precision measuring devices. The hook on the end slides to compensate for its own thickness when changing between hooking it on the outside of something being measured and pushing it against the interior of something for an interior measurement. Avoid using the hook on the end. Try to start at the one inch mark, but remember to subtract that extra inch for the correct measurement.

The second and most important thing is to use the same tape measure for every measurement in the project. This will cancel out the variations between tapes. And if you do use the hook, use it for ALL the measurements.

Don’t cut all the parts out at once and expect to have an assembling party with the pieces. This is a common newbie mistake and should be avoided. Why? The first reason is that there could be mistakes in the pattern or plan. If you cut out all of the parts first, and there is more than one mistake, you will have several good quality bits of firewood at your disposal for winter! It is better to do things in stages and learn that the plan is riddled with mistakes first.

The second problem is with wood movement. Changes in humidity and temperature can cause the wood to warp after being cut. This will affect all of your joinery. The best way to counteract this is to break the project down into stages.


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