shell for a boxcar in quarter-inch

Get this right or don’t bother with the rest.

How often do we plunge ahead under the delusion that a serious mistake can be fixed by covering it up?

The photo shows a simple box that’s temporarily dry-fitted together with tape. My point this week is a simple one: if this foundation isn’t accurate, square and true, then all the added details in the world are useless.

Since I have no way of knowing the skill levels of those who might read this, forgive me if that sounds patently obvious. But, to novices especially, I can’t encourage you enough to take extra care at this stage because a mistake made here will follow you throughout the project.

I’ve done it, you’ve done it, we’ve all done it. If it’s a simple thing, then maybe it can be glossed over, patched or filled. However, in the case of a significant error or sloppy workmanship, it’s better to fix it now then have to undo more work built on top of it.

As an example of that, this is my second shell for this project. My first attempt had a dimensional error on the end panels that would have compounded as the rest of the details were added. So, I started over, rather than pile on compromise upon compromise. Fixing it was easy at this stage.

Not everyone is so fussy as I am, and will claim that it’s too much time and work to fix things or do something over. I don’t like to do things over myself, but how much time are you saving by stripping off added details and redoing them after you’ve grudgingly determined that things aren’t going to work half or three-quarters of the way through a project? How much extra frustration is that compared to fixing a mistake at the outset?

From reading this blog, most of you understand that’s not how I choose to work. (Most of the time. I’ve made more than my share of stupid decisions, which is why I’m making a new start on this car.) The wonderful thing about this craft is that we all get to choose the quality standards and the level of compromise that is meaningful to us regardless of what others think.

Happy Thanksgiving to my American audience.