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An unexpected result

Despite your best efforts, sometimes things go sideways no matter how carefully you plan.

I know you’ve had this happen: You plan everything just right, exactly how you’ve done it dozens of times. You follow all the right steps. You make allowances for things in the event you need to “tweak” things after the fact. And in spite of it all, something random just doesn’t work.

It could be stain not absorbing right in one spot, or maybe two halves of a joint don’t quite fit even though you used the same bit or setup for both. It might be an odd bit of grain that catches the light with distracting chatoyance you couldn’t predict.

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In the photo above is a box I’ve almost completed. As I’ve done countless times for boxes with continuous grain, I elected to use keepers inside to keep the lid in place. The box came out perfect, the keepers worked fine for an easy, accurate fit.

But after a coat of Danish oil cured, the lid decided it didn’t want to fit any more and got stuck. That happens sometimes, so I fine-tuned the keeper and inner box edges to get the fit back again. I had to put it aside for a day or two, but when I went back to work on it, the lid didn’t fit again – once more, too tight.

I tweaked it again, got the fit just right and a day later it happened again. Fortunately, I have several projects going on and have worked slowly on this box. Good thing, or it might have already gone to the recipient who’d soon have a stuck lid. As it is, I’ve tweaked that lid four times now.

I suppose this is the wood settling, although I’m clueless as to why so drastically. The finishing process, ambient humidity and all the usual factors are in play – I’ve experienced that before – but never to this degree, if that’s what it is. I’ve checked and everything is still square, but after a couple days rest, that lid just doesn’t want to cooperate.

The best course of action at this point is to set it aside and really let it settle in before dealing with it more. I’ll tweak it again, but plan to wait a while before giving it to the recipient “just to make sure.”

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