Quantcast

Do things have to be millilitre perfect?

UKworkshop.co.uk

Help Support UKworkshop.co.uk:

NewbieRaf

Established Member
Joined
4 Jun 2019
Messages
31
Reaction score
4
Hey Guys

I am relatively new to woodworking, I am self-taught and I'm about 2 years into this and I have to admit - - I am loving it, however, I wanted to gain inspiration from my fellow makers out there. Do things have to be millimetre perfect for you? I am specifically talking about things being square. I will be the first to say that it takes me AGES (well a good couple of mins - - feels ages) to set up properly before making the cut as I always make sure I am cutting square. I am making shaker kitchen cabinet doors per Mr Peter Millard (check him out on youtube) and even though I spend ages the finished result always it one or two mm out.

So I wonder to myself.....not everyone owns a wonderful Festool MFT3 and if you are like me all I got is a couple of squares from Amazon that I rely on.

What is people's general feeling on this? Do you settle if whatever your making is not perfectly square? Should I be such a perfectionist accepting that unless I have a CNC whatever I make will always be slightly out?

Any words of wisdom would be greatly appreciated

Thanks
 

MikeG.

No longer posting.
Joined
24 Aug 2008
Messages
10,176
Reaction score
650
Location
Essex/ Suffolk border
If you cut accurate shoulders then things pull themselves up pretty square. After that, any adjustment with a plane to make it fit properly is just standard woodworking. No-one measures panels or doors to see if they are square........they look at gaps to see that they are even.

There's an irony here in that OK machinery produces OKish results, but spending an awful lot less money and just relying on hand-tools can produce a much more accurate result. It's only when you move into the realm of more expensive machines that you can start matching the accuracy of the hand tool worker.

PS Peter Millard is a regular (and helpful) member here.

PPS Not every unadorned panel is "Shaker style". The world was making plain panels many centuries before the Shakers even existed.
 

Blackswanwood

Still Learning
Joined
17 Nov 2018
Messages
586
Reaction score
135
Location
North Yorkshire
In general I don't think a couple of mm matters as long as it doesn't mean the item doesn't work (ie a door or lid doesn't open/close cleanly) or it's a noticeable distraction when looked at.

I do think it's worth trying to be as accurate as you can be though and while making stock flat and square can be a bit tedious with practice it becomes second nature and massively increases the chances of the end product coming together accurately. You also pick up tips along the way that help you to become more accurate and deal with it when you are not - watching some of the projects on here is a good source.

It also depends what you are making. I did a course a couple of years ago to make a Windsor chair - that didn't involve any worrying about a couple of mm but the chair I brought home is a thing of beauty.
 

Trevanion

Greatest Of All Time
Joined
29 Jul 2018
Messages
3,499
Reaction score
326
Location
Pembrokeshire
There's always a rule of "Good Enough" in woodworking, it's just knowing what exactly that is in relation to what you're working on!
 

profchris

Established Member
Joined
14 Jun 2015
Messages
748
Reaction score
33
Location
Suffolk
With hand tools I find it's a mix of practice and technique.

I bought a very cheap set of engineer's squares in a wooden box (£20 or less) and they're vastly better than my woodworking square, which isn't very square.

For a precise cut, I'll knife the line using a square, then use a chisel 9 make it V shaped on the waste side. That guides my saw, though sawing straight only came with practice.

With machines I guess you can only be as accurate as the machine allows. With a hand saw I can cross cut to within, say, 1/4 mm of square across a 75 mm length, and I'm by no means very skilled. Keeping the cut vertical - ah, there's the challenge!
 

AJB Temple

Finely figured
UKW Supporter
Joined
13 Oct 2015
Messages
3,097
Reaction score
313
Location
Tunbridge Wells
Agree with the above. I am presently making a fully bespoke, built in fitted large kitchen. The stone floor is wavy. The plaster ceiling looks flat but varies by easily 5mm. The back wall leans back by about 7mm at the top compared with the bottom and ids not dead parallel with the opposite wall. The two side walls are not at dead on 90 degrees to the long wall. This building is pretty good compared with the barn we live in, the frame of which was put up with random sized big lumps of oak and is all over the place.

So I make stuff "look square" which is much more important than being square. What you do not want is gaps in your joints when making furniture. That looks amateurish / shoddy. Good marking out tools are key. And understanding where to cut in order to work back to a perfect line.

If you are using a table saw, it is my experience that cheap hobbyist ones are hopeless for accuracy. Issues with table, fences, blade quality and alignment. For this reason I do not bother with a table saw much. A good track saw and a good big setting out table works for me with all sheet work. If you use a chop saw / mitre saw, same applies. Cheap ones are rarely accurate or stay accurate.

Key advice - learn to do it right and practice that. Never practice your mistakes. (This is my mantra for learning music - slow down and get it exactly right). If you have made inaccurate cuts identify exactly why.
 

powertools

Established Member
Joined
7 Jun 2011
Messages
1,596
Reaction score
16
Location
Bedfordshire
Before anyone can answer your question we need to know if you are using hand or power tools and how wide the joint is that you are saying is 1 mm out. Is it out across it's width or depth of both.
It would be normal to state the problem in degrees rather than mm.
 

stuckinthemud

Established Member
Joined
17 Jun 2019
Messages
44
Reaction score
0
Location
Caerphilly
Best carpenter I ever worked with had a mantra I've always tried to live up to, "there is no done fast, there is only done right"
 

Doug71

Established Member
Joined
28 Aug 2016
Messages
1,269
Reaction score
74
Location
Yorkshire
Depends what you are making.

On something modern and simple looking where you want clean lines (shaker style) you need to be really accurate or it shows.
 

NewbieRaf

Established Member
Joined
4 Jun 2019
Messages
31
Reaction score
4
Wow thank you so much all for your detailed and quick responses. Yes let me give you a little bit more “flavour”.

I’m using all power tools by dewalt. I’d like to think it’s the better quality stuff than consumer grade.

First of all one of my biggest lessons learned is cutting massive 2400 sheets is a Royal pain in the you know what, so for next time I will try and avoid this

Having ripped and grooved the rails and stiles (no dramas) on my dw475 saw and Dewalt router, I moved into the panels. Some came out perfect, however some caused the stiles to protrude a couple of mm. frustrating but my plan is to make new rails and groove them slightly shallower rather than cutting the panels again.

Another lesson learned is a silly one. Always make sure your pencil is sharp so you strike an accurate like and - - would you believe - - don’t be lazy by leaving your safety glasses on when striking that line, take them off out your proper glasses on. Needless so say despite best efforts yes some of the rails and stiles literally had differences of 1 or 2 mm but the more I cut the more accurate I got - - guess I just got the hang of it.

I think by far the hard part of wading with the massive sheets. Actually I found it exhausting which then leaves you with little amount of steam to do a decent job on the other cuts - so I also learned to take breaks and take my time.

All in all I’m making 18 doors, I’m happy about everything but still Fusterated with the protruding stiles so will deal with that over the weekend.

Thank you so much all, looking forward to your advice.

Thanks
 

Peri

Established Member
Joined
11 Jun 2012
Messages
36
Reaction score
11
Location
Shropshire
My quick tip - use a knife for marking out, not a pencil.

Best of luck :)

Edit
I found my carpentry improved noticeably when I learnt to slow down.
When I watched the guys on Youtube they give the impression they can make a dining table and 6 chairs in a weekend, I kind of thought 'I should be quicker, my techniques must be wrong'.

I'm doing it for myself, (not as a business) so it rarely matters if a job takes two days or two weeks. I no longer care if it takes all weekend to cut 4 joints, I know those 4 joints are the absolute best I can make them, and I haven't made 20 joints that look shoddy.
 

Just4Fun

Established Member
Joined
21 Sep 2017
Messages
497
Reaction score
26
Location
Finland
stuckinthemud":2gea7eb3 said:
Best carpenter I ever worked with had a mantra I've always tried to live up to, "there is no done fast, there is only done right"
As a teenager I worked on building sites at weekends and during vacations. The carpenter and I had a regular, almost ritualistic, conversation when I returned with some wood he had sent me to cut. It went like this:
Carpenter: Is it right?
Me: It's near enough.
Carpenter: Near enough is not good enough, it has to be right.
Me: It is right.
Carpenter: Well that's near enough then.
 

thetyreman

Established Member
Joined
4 Mar 2016
Messages
2,728
Reaction score
57
Location
North West
patience is overlooked, rushing does often lead to mistakes or bad decisions.

It depends what you are making, different tolerances for a huge outdoor gate for a farm and oak timber framing than fine furniture or say a jewellery box designed to impress toffs. :lol: I think we go a bit too far sometimes especially with sanding and a lot of stuff is overworked, there's often just no need for it when a hand plane can do it better or a scraper.
 

Ollie78

Established Member
Joined
4 Aug 2011
Messages
182
Reaction score
11
Location
Wiltshire
If you always aim to be perfect you might get close.
It seems to me it is about which point it becomes acceptable to you. There is no perfectly square or perfectly straight if you ask an engineer.
I sometimes need a sanity check with this, I will try for perfect, I will see something is not quite right and it will bug me but if I ask someone else they won`t even notice it. So I try not to get too worried about it.

A millimetre is a lot in a jewellery box 150mm long but much less significant in a garden fence.

Ollie
 

Fitzroy

All the gear...
Joined
12 Mar 2013
Messages
1,093
Reaction score
38
Location
Aberdeen
My end results have improved as my marking out has improved.

Fitz.
 

Droogs

Is that chisel shar ... Ow
Joined
14 Mar 2013
Messages
2,883
Reaction score
307
Location
Edinburgh
In all honesty, pur moi, it depends where that mm perfect is. If you mean on the outside edges then no as I can adjust that with a plane. If you are talking about internal joints where things meet then yes. A mm gap in a mitre joint shoulder where it meet its oppo looks awful but a mm gap between a door and a style can be adjusted when you fit hinges etc.
 

guineafowl21

Established Member
Joined
28 Oct 2015
Messages
268
Reaction score
25
Location
Inverness
To answer your question: some things do. Gappy joints in furniture look bad. Slight differences in shaped chair or table legs, or dovetails, make it look handmade, which is good.

Some simple things that help accuracy:
Face-edge marking, then only registering your square on those sides.

Knife marks, not pencil marks.

If you need pencil marks, keep it sharp and scribe one line carefully, not several times to make a fat line.

Start your saw across the top of the work, then stop and check. Micro-adjust your position if necessary (you’ll see what this means when you try it). Start sawing, and drop your saw so it follows the cut line, taking light strokes. Then raise your hand as you saw to cut the opposite side.

These tips improved my accuracy dramatically.
 

D_W

Established Member
Joined
24 Aug 2015
Messages
4,517
Reaction score
4
Location
PA, US
Cut things close with room to adjust. As mentioned previously, sight lines are important, but if nothing is out of whack, fit and gaps are far more important than perfection of other bits.

Life is easier if you expect to fit things rather than attempting to make them and have them hit fit in the making.
 

NewbieRaf

Established Member
Joined
4 Jun 2019
Messages
31
Reaction score
4
Love it thank you so much all. I love the tip of using a knife and taking my time which i will def do. Thank you for all the valuable saying from people you used to work with. I just might etch that into a wall in my shop. - must be done right :)

Thanks again all
 
Top