In Autumn of 2019, Nicole Spagnuolo emailed to ask if I’d like to record a video for The Wood Whisperer Guild. “Sure!” I said, forgetting – in my delight and honor for having been asked – that I vehemently dislike being on camera. We decided on a smaller version of Christopher Schwarz’s “Anarchist’s Tool Chest.” Then COVID hit, so travel was difficult and ill-advised, and it all rather slipped my mind.
About two months ago, Marc Spagnuolo reminded me, so we scheduled the shoot for Nov. 8-12 with Todd Tidwell, the videographer for the Guild, who would drive up from Texas (that’s a haul!). I blithely said something like, “I’ll prepare parts as if for a cooking show – several versions of things in different stages – to help move things along. I think it will take three days.” Then I forgot again…because apparently the mere thought of a camera pointed at me makes me lose about 20 IQ points.
I remembered a week before – thank goodness – and after a panicky visit to my lumber stack in the cellar, found I had just enough sugar pine from which to prep most of the the parts. But this was the absolute dregs of stock I’ve accumulated over four years of classes. Lots of having to cut around knots and be on the lookout for surface checking, and deal with twist and cupping. There’s a reason I hadn’t used these pieces already: too much of a pain in the ass. But needs must. And I had not a stick extra – so no prepping additional parts ahead of time.
For the lid pieces, I had to pilfer from a leftover class kit (I now have two-thirds of a tool chest kit sitting in my basement at home). And after messing up a part or two as the cameras were rolling, I had to steal from the skirt pieces of an almost-finished full-size tool chest that’s currently sitting in our machine room. (I guess I’ll use the skirt pieces in my basement to finish the chest in the machine room…which will leave me with a set of carcase panels.) Oh – and I didn’t remember to order hardware or paint until the last minute. (Thank you Orion Henderson/Horton Brasses for having the hardware I wanted in stock, and for shipping it quickly!)
So even though I couldn’t do it cooking-show style, I figured that would add only a day. So: four days; no problem.
I forgot that once the cameras fired up, I’d lose an additional 20 IQ points. Plus we all know the joke about open glue bottles, right? Pop that lid, and there goes 40 points. With 66 dovetails to glue up for the carcase, two skirts, dust seal and interior tills, and four mortise-and-tenon joints, well, I had the bottle of Old Brown Glue open and ready to grab the entire time. So now I’m down about 80 points. Every day.
With two cameras pointed at me, I found myself losing words I commonly use. “What are those valleys between saw teeth called again?” “What’s that tool you place at the end of a nail then hit it to sink the nail deeper? “Mullet…that’s a hairstyle…can it really be the right word for the offcut used to test the fit of a tongue-in-groove joint?” Sigh.
But most embarrassing? I cut shovetails. Even when I was starting out, I never cut shovetails. Mobius strips, yes (that is, I’ve flipped a pin board side to side instead of end to end more than once, and ended up with pins in opposite directions). But now I have. On camera. Marc has ocular proof of my shame. (Just after that mistake, we broke for lunch so I could get over it…and as I walked outside, a bird pooped on my head.)
In the end, it took a full five days…which is what Marc and Todd anticipated. They’re much smarter than am I – even though they’re around cameras all the time!
In the end, the tool chest looks pretty good (if I do say so myself). Now here’s hoping that Todd has enough not-stupid video of me – or can splice enough together to make me look pretty good, too. Thank goodness for skilled editors!
But despite my self-consciousness (and camera-and-glue induced stupidity), it was a lot of fun to record. Thank you to Nicole and Marc for asking me to do it (I feel truly honored!), and to Todd for his grace and kindness all week. And special thanks to Chris for letting me take over the shop (and for longer than I anticipated), and to both him and his family for tiptoeing around all week.
p.s. This one is about 15″ tall, 18″ front to back and 38″ long. Chris offered plans for a slightly different size/interior in SketchUp years ago; here’s the blog link.
34 thoughts on “Just Add Cameras to Exacerbate the Stupid”
Funny stuff, I do the stupid stuff with no cameras around.
Megan, thanks for sharing “the way it really happens “. So many videos these days paint an unrealistic picture of how things get done. I understand the time constraints and desire for people to make a well produced video but the real lessons come from the simple every day problems and issues that we all encounter. Please include more “mistakes” (AKA- human woodworking”) in the future. Thanks and keep up the great work.
Megan, I feel your pain. Remember when after a long day of chopping dovetails, I did the exact same thing in the ATC class this summer and you did not make fun of me (thanks for that BTW). Plus as Tom’s comment above pointed out, no cameras were recording me, it was all on my own. It’s good to know we’re all in this together and we’re human after all.
Didn’t know they were called shovetails. Great name. Did exactly that on my first ever project and had to make it work as no more matching wood! Chest looks great.
Miss Fitzpatrick, I agree wholeheartedly with the previous commenter, I understand your dislike of being on camera, while I’ve never had to be “ filmed performing a task “ I get VERY uncomfortable just having my picture taken! ( I’ve got a face for radio 😎) anytime I’ve seen you and or mr. Schwartz on video you both come across very professional and more importantly kind and talented. So please don’t be so hard on yourself, in life things just don’t always go the way we’d like, hope OR plan! Please keep doing woodworking on video some of us have to live vicariously through you, for example after 29 years of marriage I got voted off the island and lost my shop, so please understand that you are providing a much more valuable service than you likely realize. I really enjoy watching people that are competent @ their craft without a hint of arrogance! Thank you very much for your service, have a great day!
The real problem, I find for myself, is that when I have to explain what I am doing while I am doing it, only half of my brain is focused on the actual task. Not a recipe for outstanding workmanship for sure.
Hey, at least a bird didn’t poop on your head as you were walking to get lunch at the Mexican deli with Todd.
I’ve worked in a barn with about 50 horses in the stalls and 300 birds in the rafters- wear a wide brimmed hat!
Oh right…I just added that. I was blocking, I guess!
Very amusing, but so true. Especially the part about “losing words”. Usually, if it is a particular talk, I will rehearse it once. This helps considerably, the words flow out. On a build project however it is different and a plan of action needs to be drawn. It reminds me of stories of the gaffes when television began with live shows.. lol
“Well, at least your chest looks good.” (no double entendre)
I really can’t wait to see this footage and sorry I couldn’t make it there myself. People are going to love this build and I’m sure it came out great!
Yep. I keep a shovetail board near my bench as a constant reminder. Reminder of what? Humility? Sure. To keep the brain engaged? Absolutely. To avoid working with undue haste? Naturally. Thanks Megan. It’s good to know that frustration is not limited to us amateurs.
Never heard the term mobius strip, but have made plenty of them. And have cut out the wrong side of the saw lines as well. Looking forward to watching this on The Wood Whisperer!
Sadly, I’ve also made a shovetail in my life as well. You would think marking the bits you want to remove with lots of X’s would help avoid this but no it didn’t. Fortunately mine wasn’t filmed in 4K.
Had a good chuckle or two or three with this. Especially with the “shovetails”—a term that I, like at least one other commenter, had not heard before. Reminded me that I recently did a “negative” cutout of the dovetails on one end of a board for a drawer—ie, I cut out the tails, leaving what should have been “waste”. I quit early that day.
Also, I’d like to add my $1.95 worth (two cents’ worth just ain’t worth talking about) in favor of showing encounters with mistakes, problems, unplanned bits, etc. and how one overcomes them. That, to me, is where the real woodworker comes out in each of us.
Finally, there’s this—I really like the “traveling version” of TATC, or what I can see of it here, at least.
Blessings to all!
Totally feel your pain, Megan. It’s like when I’m typing while someone is watching. Normally my fingers fly, but then nothing comes out right — “Hey, dude, are you having a seizure? Did you forget about the home row?”
If Chris is reading these comments, I hope he and Marc present you with a blooper reel for Christmas. Just for friends and family viewing, of course. :evil grin:
Ahhhh that’s why, you only did one episode of the Wood Wright’s Shop. Hugs to you Milady
This reminds me of when TWWG Roubo Bench was going on live. There was a forum topic just on sharing the mistakes we made. I learned a ton, and contributed too!
Aww those shove tails will look great once you take the time to clean them up. Though I usually do that before I realize what I’ve created!
😂 I feel seen reading this. Though I lose all my woodworking words, or speaking in general when people show interest in my woodworking. All the words fail me and I’m sure people don’t really believe that I make furniture.
A Shove tail is probably stronger than a butt joint. And if you dovetail the nails? You got yourself a strong joint there. Long live the shove tail. Good post Meghan.
Well the end result looks perfect, so I think you must have begun with a much higher IQ than most of us who read your blog.
Thank you for this post. I’m sure the video for TWWG will be excellent. I learned much from the video series you did for PWW some years ago.
At the start of building a DTC not long ago, even just after reading a suggestion to carefully mark the waste and feeling proud of myself for having done so, I pulled out my coping saw and immediately cut the first tail off one side piece. Not familiar with shovetails, I crosscut away my mistake (after recovering from the shame), and now my tool chest is 3/4″ shorter than planned.
Oh geez — that PW one 😬 I’m confident, at least, that I’m now more comfortable than I was then!! (And 3/4 shorter is nothing!)
Did they get the video of the part where you said “how the hell does Roy do this in one take”
Haha. (I was on TWS once…but I didn’t say much, so that made it easy!)
We’re all happy about this post because there’s camaraderie in flubbing (self-censored).
… Don’t ask how I ended up on the floor of my shop this morning while simply crosscutting a stick of lumber. 🙂
THANKS, Megan, for the humorous confessions! Best luck with future videos.
So somehow just a few hours AFTER reading this and commenting yesterday, I went to cut some dovetails. Marked everything perfectly, got the saw out and cut nice straight lines PERFECTLY to the lines. Then when I started cleaning out the waste I realized I cut to the wrong side of EVERY tail line. …
And that’s why I cut tails first – at that point, you can still recover 🙂
Well if it’s any consolation, the last time I was on the local news interpreting at the fur trade festival I looked and sounded just like Bubbles from Trailer Park Boys (thanks to my giant old-school safety glasses). Pity I wasn’t talking about kitties.
Fitz, to error is human,I think you know the author
“Good-nature and good-sense must ever join…”
so I’m in trouble 😉
I’ll make sure we don’t cause any camera-induced stupidity in March, when you come to KC.
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