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2. Start small and keep on building

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My ultimate goal is to build bookcases for my basement. There will be three sets side by side, from floor to ceiling. I plan crown molding at the top, and perhaps doors for the bottom three shelves. I only have a single standard door in a very tight hallway, so everything will be carried a piece at a time downstairs and assembled there, and there they will stay for the rest of the time we are in this house. Going rate for a contractor to build these in Northern Virginia where I live is between $2000 and $4000.

If I had jumped straight to that project, you would not be reading this blog right now, as I would have given up in frustration and probably returned the Kreg set.

Perhaps this is more philosophy than woodworking, but I am starting small and working my way to these shelves. As I go from project to project, I am acquiring the skills I will need for the ultimate goal.

I am also realizing that I am now limited by everything outside of using my Kreg set.

Kreg has brought a wonderful thing to the woodworking hobbyist, especially newbies like me. As Deming would have proposed to the Japanese auto industry, Kreg allows almost anyone to make a quality wood joint. I use the word "quality" in a Deming sense - a repeatable, precise, efficient process. Compare it to biscuit joints. There is a place for biscuit joints, but Kreg joints are so much more efficient.

I have learned, though, that none of my other processes are of the same quality. Consider the CD shelves that I have written about. I have no table saw - I am using sawhorses, clamp guides, and a circular saw to cut wood. For the CD shelves, I set out to cut 9 shelves from a sheet of plywood. I would measure, mark both edges of the sheet, clamp with the guide to the two marks, cut, and then move to the next one. At the last shelves, I noticed that a little error had accumulated with each cut, such that I was no longer square. (1/32" over eight cuts, if all in one direction, is a quarter inch!)

My lessons learned? Find a friend with a table saw!

If no friend is available, measure every cut up front so there is no accumulated error. (You could argue that I could use a square, but I did not have one large enough). There are probably countless other approaches. The point is, I am improving everything outside of the Kreg joints so I am ready for complex projects.

I figure it will not be until Spring 2011, but I will build those shelves yet!


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Comment by David Roberts on May 2, 2010 at 12:23am
lowes will cut the ply to your size. just be nice and go at a non busy time.

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