November 22, 2021

Measure Twice, Cut Once

It's 9:27 PM as I start this (there is no way I'll get it done before 10:00, which is when I usually publish my posts) and I just got in from a run. In the dark! The craziest thing happened today... I got a burst of energy in the afternoon(!) and it lasted all evening (which led to the run).

I used to have energy in the afternoons until my chronic pain started a few years ago. I started getting tired earlier and earlier in the day and the list of things I could no longer physically do was growing. (Still no real diagnosis--my doctor is calling it fibromyalgia for now, but still testing.)

I still have the pain, but I started a new medication after my last appointment with my rheumatologist and I think--I THINK--it might be helping! I've tried so many different meds this year while trying to figure out what's wrong with me and nothing helped even a little bit.

The past few mornings, I've gotten out of bed without moaning and groaning and so hunched over I could barely walk. The main pain that I still have is the old one--the very specific spot on my back (my T10-T11 vertebrae)--that's been there for 30 years. I don't want to downplay it, because when it really hurts, it hurts badly enough to make me just lie in a ball and cry. There is also a new (very bad) pain in my L5-S1 area (lower back). I feel super confident that it's a herniated disc. But the other pain I've been feeling all over my body seems to be getting better.

I really hope that the medication is working and I'm not just having a good day. I have an MRI scheduled for December 2nd, and I really hope that it shows something. (Interestingly, she ordered it for my cervical spine (neck) and lumbar spine (lower back) but not my thoracic spine (where the T10-T11 pain I have is). My neck and lower back have been really bad, though, and the x-ray showed some enough degeneration to prompt the MRI, so we'll see.)

My dad told me he had a project he was working on and asked if I could help with it. He was making a chess board out of an old piece of plywood (repurposed from something or another). He put all the squares on it, but they weren't quite square to the board, so he just wanted me to square it up.

This is no big deal--like seriously a three minute task--with a table saw and a miter gauge. You just set the angle of the miter gauge and cut.

Now, I have some pretty cool tools, including the fancy saw I splurged on recently; but I don't have a miter gauge! A miter gauge to a woodworker is like a skillet to a chef. It's just a given! There was one that came with my saw (albeit a poor quality one, but a miter gauge nonetheless), and it broke. So I've been without a miter gauge for months, trying to get by with jigs and other tools. (A good miter gauge is expensive--$150-250--so I've been waiting to get one. I don't want to buy a cheap one only to have it break again, so I'd rather wait and get a good one.)

Anyway, my dad dropped off this board as well as another board that he wanted squared up to the same exact size as the chess board he was making. I figured I could get it done in an hour or so, if I got creative with my other tools.

I finally decided to use my router to get one clean edge, then move it over to the table saw to get another clean edge. Then use a table saw jig to cross cut each end.

It did not go as planned.

I was really worried I was going to mess up the chess board he so carefully painted, so I was careful about my cuts. It took forever, but I finally got it nice and square with the edges how he wanted them. Next up was the easy part! Cutting down the plain board to the size of the chess board.

The board was not at all nice looking, so I cut away the bad edges, keeping the best part in the center. I had three cuts done, and was on to the fourth and final cut. I laid the chess board on top to make sure it would be perfectly sized and I drew a line (there were already a couple of other lines on there).

I carefully made the cut on the table saw, and was happy when I saw that the whole thing was square. Then I realized that it was too short on one side!

When I put the piece up to the table saw, I was thinking that the cut line was the innermost line; but it should have been the outermost line that was on there. I got confused about which line I'd just drawn, so it was a an inch or so too short.

I was grateful I didn't screw up the chess board, but I felt terrible about the other board. I had a very nice piece of oak plywood that I was saving for something special that might come along (when I have nice plywood, I get very excited about it--I can't buy it often because I don't have a way to get it home). So, I reluctantly pulled it out to measure it, and it was just slightly bigger than the chess board--so it was perfect to use as a replacement.

My dad hasn't picked them up yet, so he doesn't know about my mistake, but he got lucky in a way--the oak plywood is so much nicer! ;)

1 comment:

  1. I remember hearing that "measure twice; cut once" growing up. My father's degree was in Industrial Arts and we had a man live with us for a number of years who was an excellent cabinetmaker. No one let me near any of the tools so I have no how to use anything beyond a level and a hammer, but I so enjoy these woodworking posts. I'm happy you had that extra board and that all ended well. Thanks for the reminder that a few extra minutes of planning can help avoid a disaster.


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