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.
I quite agree about accurate, square and true. These are vital. I would add to this, though, with “clean”. By which I mean that there are no rough edges, and that edges are also square and true – it is worth learning about “draw-filing” when working with metal, for example. Cut a piece of metal, clamp it in a vice and clean up the cut edges with a file, and file down to the line as one would normally do. Then place the file so that it is at a right-angle to the material, and draw the file along the metal, parallel to the edge. Do this in a single direction. It won’t take long, but the cut edge will become nicely squared up, and will make subsequent operations (such as soldering) easier.
Talking of soldering, there is a lot of hype and cant about this. Two words need to be remembered: clean and hot. Clean means physically clean (purple Scotchbrite pads are ideal) and chemically clean (a flux). Hot means that the iron is big enough to carry heat to the job, and that the bit has been recently cleaned and tinned so that heat transfer can take place.
I quite agree!
Sound advice as always Simon. I fixed the link in the first email.
PS Happy Thanksgiving to you and all my American friends.