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Top 7 Woodworking Pet Peeves

comments (25) September 1st, 2009 in blogs

MBerger Matt Berger, contributor
thumbs up 8 users recommend

As I type my hands are stained purple, I've got a nasty paper cut, and there's dried glue on my new pants. All thanks to my woodworking habit.

Don't get me wrong, I love building furniture. But it comes with consequences.

I asked around the office and it turns out the white oak I've been milling up all week is the cause of the purple stain on my hands. The tannins in the wood reacted with my skin chemestry similar to the process of fuming or ebonizing. Well that stinks. No amount of scrubbing and orange soap will remove the stain.

This latest turn of events inspired me to come up with my list of woodworking pet peeves. I tried for 10 but could only come up with seven; I suppose that's a good thing.


7. Twists in Resawn lumber: The great thing about buying rough lumber is that you can resaw thick boards into veneers and bookmatched pieces. But nothing is more frustrating than splitting a board in two only to have it twist and warp beyond repair.

6. Gluing up furniture parts backwards. There's nothing worse during the glue-up process than assembling your parts only to find out that you put a piece in backwards or upside down. Here's a tip on keeping track of parts.

5. Wood movement. I know, wood movement is natural. But couldn't Mother Nature invent a tree that didn't shrink and expand with changes in humidity? And I don't mean plywood or MDF.

4. Wear and tear on your hands. As I noted earlier, I learned the hard way that white oak can turn your skin purple. Equally as annoying is how wood can dry out your skin. Maybe it's an East Coast thing, but every winter my hands turn dry and crack something brutal whenever I'm in the shop. Finally, there's the dreaded splinter. For more on this see Tom McKenna's recent post for splinter removal techniques.

3. Sharing tools. I mostly work in a community workshop so this is a regular problem for me. I could strangle the guy who left the tablesaw blade set to 89 degrees!

2. Dings in a finished workpiece. There's nothing worse than dropping a workpiece after you've just finished preparing the surface with a plane or sandpaper and ending up with a big ding. Here's the best technique I've seen for getting a ding out.

1. Dried glue on my clothes. No amount of washing or picking will remove dried glue from your shirt or pants. In fact, the clothes dryer only bakes it in. Worst of all, dried glue looks like old boogers. Not a great fashion statement.

What irritates you about woodworking? Post a comment to add to the list.

posted in: blogs

Comments (25)

Cwoodat2020 Cwoodat2020 writes: Guess what ? I had five PPeves listed and the internet drop it all. What a great pet peev.
Posted: 11:12 pm on December 10th

Lockdowel Lockdowel writes: Try using Lock Dowels. It allows you to connect furniture pieces together without the need for glue or screws. The dowels do all the work for you. They snap lock pieces into place. This is a brand new patent pending technology. Some dowels can hold over to 200lbs. Go to to see instructional videos. Oh, it's completely invisible once pieces are connected. Let me know what you think.
Posted: 1:47 pm on October 24th

wdt wdt writes: Uncle Earl's Soap for Machinists has totally solved my problem with finger splits. Well worth the price. Just follow the directions and use several times a day. Available at
Posted: 8:00 pm on September 18th

chairmannz chairmannz writes: Had a very good friend over who wanted to use my best chisel do undo a screw ( i asked him what it was that he had in his hand and then what do you use for screws, his answer i use it quickly) from then on nobody uses my tools, i am using them to make a living.
And the next why are chisels always really really sharp when you drop them on your foot, is that to show your wife that you have red blood?
Posted: 11:58 pm on September 9th

MurrayInTO MurrayInTO writes: Plywood and dimension lumber that is not the size that it says it is. I have seen a "2x4" go from 2 x 4 to 1 1/2 x 3 1/2. 3/4 inch plywood is now something less than that --- how much? Who knows. The excuses about shrinkage and so on just don't hold water. If they could make it the right size 50 years ago, why can't they do it now? I can think of no other business that gets away with misrepresenting the size of its product like the lumber industry.
Posted: 8:42 pm on September 8th

gsuhusky gsuhusky writes: there are so many good ones here. some of mine are
1. Cool, quirky jigs I MacGyvered together that I couldn't
part with but forgot what they are for or took apart
for storage and have no idea how to put them back together
2. Catching clothing on vise and cabinet door
3. Sandpaper, in particular super fine wet silicon carbide
that I tear into small pieces and don't write the grit
on the back
4. Straightest piece of wood in stack but has the most
surface blemishes
5. Carrying full 5 x 5 sheets of Baltic Birch esp. through
a doorway. You have to do your best Chuck Berry duck
walk imitation
6. Solvent cans with the spout in the middle of the can's
top. 1. you can't get a good grip on the child proof
cap to open it and 2.once you get it open they pour so
badly that your bound to get solvent everywhere.
7. Long twisted and kinked extension cords
8. Changing dust collector bags and bagging out shop vac
9. Dealing with dust collection system connectors and
nozzle adapters
10. Banding strap identations on the factory edges on the top
and bottom sheets of your plywood delivery
11. Dropping the nut and/or washer in the table saw cabinet
12. Jointing a twist out of aboard
13. I worked in a public shop for a few years, so changing
jointer/planer blades every couple of weeks sucked

Also, did someone comment about how its crazy to use super glue on finger splits...crazy, but it was intended for battlefield suturing. Don't if that means it 's good to use regularly but it's the only thing, short of chopping off your fingers that beats N.E. winter finger splits esp. if you also work in the home improvement sector where you find yourself sometimes doing tile, concrete, basic masonry or what I call the Wet Trades...murder on the hand in winter pain quite like it. Miserable is he on the jobsite who forgets his crazy glue in the winter.

Posted: 11:40 pm on September 6th

RTRT RTRT writes: My biggest pet peeve is looking for some accessory (router guide bushings for example) and the package says fits most, or fits some models but doesn't say ANYWHERE if it fits yours. Next to that is my purchasing department (wife) yelling at me for wanting more tools.
Posted: 3:42 pm on September 4th

robrocks robrocks writes: Wenge and lacewood. Nothing but a gazillion tiny splinters held together solely by bad intentions.
Posted: 7:52 pm on September 3rd

bill117 bill117 writes: I agree the lemon juice will work wonders. Also, Crazy Glue on those finger splits.
Posted: 11:46 pm on September 2nd

ts75027 ts75027 writes: Cheap tools. In particular, a cheap table saw where the table isn't quite flat. I'm learning, but a "good deal" is still hard to pass up...
Posted: 11:06 pm on September 2nd

golden_tone golden_tone writes: Having so many great leftover cutoffs that there's no room for storing them all in the shop. I guess the peeve is ultimately about shop size.
Posted: 8:02 pm on September 2nd

TXwoodchip TXwoodchip writes: I have 2 pet peeves and a comment. Peeves, kits (plans and hardware) for outdoor furniture, etc. that don't include stainless hardward. The screws and bolts eventually rust. I replace all hardware with stainless. Packages of say jigsaw blades that you can't reclose after opening or that have small perforations that once punctured still don't allow you to remove the item without enlarging the opening a good deal more. My comment, I won't let anyone use my tools anymore. A so called friend who is a professional furniture maker ask to use my table saw when his went south. (NO GOOD DEED EVER GOES UNPUNISHED) He refused to use the dust collector or the blade guard so I had dust in places I never have dust and on top of that, burned the h... out of my saw blade. His remark was, oops.
No one uses my tools again, ever.
Posted: 1:59 pm on September 2nd

KellyJDunton KellyJDunton writes: Pet peeves. I'd have to add dropping a freshly sharpened chisel on the floor. Or cutting ones self with a said sharp chisel and bleeding all over ones work piece before you realize your bleeding...

Posted: 12:07 pm on September 2nd

KellyJDunton KellyJDunton writes: Pet peeves. I'd have to add dropping a freshly sharpened chisel on the floor. Or cutting ones self with a said sharp chisel and bleeding all over ones work piece before you realize your bleeding...

Posted: 12:07 pm on September 2nd

MrPhil MrPhil writes: Variety packs: Once in a while I'll buy a variety pack of sandpaper, jigsaw blades or whatever, on sale. Inevitably it will have only one or two sheets, bits, blades, etc. that I actually ever use. Makes me crazy to go back to the package for another whatever and find it full of grits, tooth sets or bit sizes I never need. You'd think I'd learn....
Posted: 11:53 am on September 2nd

schwa6970 schwa6970 writes: Having someone surprise me from behind when I have a machine running and dont know they are there. Dangerous and have damaged more than one piece of exotic from this.
By the way with the exception of poly glue and titebond 3 it all comes out of clothes in the wash eventually.
Posted: 11:47 am on September 2nd

paxman paxman writes: Oxalic acid (use ZUD cleaner) will remove those stains instantly, and oxalic acid bleach will remove acid stains on oak also. The tannins in the wood react with any mild acid, like vinegar, and iron (even in small amounts) to produce ferric tannate, used for centuries as a source for black ink and famously written about by George Franck in his wonderful books and articles about wood finishing, which I highly recommend. You can make your own ferric tannate to dye wood and other things grey (not quite black, for that your really need aniline dyes) by placing oak shavings in vinegar along with a wad of steel wool. Just let it stand for a few days, strain out the particulate, and there you have it.
Posted: 10:48 am on September 2nd

JamesBell JamesBell writes: Hello,

I saw the blog on wood working glue on clothes, but did not see a solution. Anyone have advice on how to get dried glue off clothes?

Thanks, Jim
Posted: 10:40 am on September 2nd

Tom Tom writes: Matt, were you really woodworking with those hands or hunting wild boar with a knife?
Posted: 9:01 am on September 2nd

RiskyBusiness RiskyBusiness writes: My pet peeve is poorly written (sometimes incoherent) instruction manuals for woodworking machines. I don't understand why a Company would build a high quality piece of machinery and then skimp on the manual.
Posted: 8:39 am on September 2nd

GreenLady GreenLady writes: If you work in a community shop, it might be good idea to establish a new rule with regard to machinery that's set to other than 90 degrees: Anyone who uses a table-saw (for instance) at 89 degrees, is expected to crank it over to some angle that's more visibly off square (such as 75 degrees), so the next person can see that it's off,and be responsible for squaring it up. I've worked in a community shop that followed this rule, and it works surprisingly well.
Posted: 8:23 am on September 2nd

domainguy domainguy writes: Saw dust, saw dust, saw dust. The bane of my existence! It gets into everything! Who has $400 for air cleaners and $2,000 for a shop-sized dust collection system. The wife just loves it in the vents on her car.
Posted: 8:17 am on September 2nd

John_Como John_Como writes: Dado chippers in backwards. Who are you going to blame?
Posted: 7:36 am on September 2nd

Floss Floss writes: Use lemon juice to get rid of the stain on your hands.

Won't feel so nice in the cuts but hey, clean hands make the man.


Posted: 6:55 pm on September 1st

Dane_J Dane_J writes: Not allowing myself 'enough' time in the shop, ya know life gets in the way of making sawdust ;)
Posted: 4:21 pm on September 1st

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