Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Ouch, Sometimes #**%*^(*# Happens!

Zero Clearance Throat Plate Disaster
       Not the best thing to happen the day before Christmas and well into a project.  What you see here is my throat plate, split in two.  The piece of Sapele with the chalk marks on it is the culprit, it's the tapered off-cut from one of the legs.  This occurred as I was cutting the taper on the leg using my taper jig.

Taper Jig

     I know now how it happened and what to do to prevent it from ever happening again but I'm now left with a leg with a chunk out of it.  Besides having spent lots of time selecting the grain and cutting the mortises there isn't any more of the Sapele to make another leg.  What happened is the tapered end of the off cut got caught between the blade even though there was a zero clearance plate.  It jammed and stopped the 3 horsepower motor as if I had a SawStop!  That's never happened before but I see that it can be prevented if I reverse the leg to start the cut near the top of the leg rather than the bottom.  This way it'll end the cut with the thickest part of the taper which shouldn't have any possibility of wedging itself between the blade and the throat plate when it drops down.
     Don't know how many times I'd tell my students that the difference between a good woodworker and one that's not so good is that the good one has learned how to hide his or her mistakes.  Guess it's time to see if I can practice what I preach!  My first instinct was to cut a new leg, couple of problems with that scenerio.  First of all, I'm out of wood and secondly, even if I could get another piece of 8/4 Sapele that chances of it matching the coloration and grain pattern would be pretty remote.  Here's my Plan B.
     Here's the raw damage after removing some of the splintering:

Ouch, Right on the Corner of the Leg

     The first step was to clean up the nasty gash caused by the jam.

The Damage, Epoxy, & Sawdust
      I then gathered up some fine sawdust and 5 minute epoxy.  My plan was to mix up the epoxy and then add some sawdust to it.  This was worked into the gash with an applicator made from a flexible piece of wood.  If you've ever done Bondo work on a car, this process is similar.

Epoxy Applied

     After it dried thoroughly the resulting patch was planed smooth.

Planed Smooth
     Here's what it looks like after spraying the surface with some water.  This will be similar to how it should appear when the table is oiled and finished.  The way I apply my oil and top coats is to wet sand it into the wood.  This tends to build up a slurry which will, hopefully, fill and blend in the patch.

Semi-Final Appearance
     It's not a perfect match but I'm trying to keep things in perspective.  It's about 2"long on a 29" leg so just a small percentage.  It's located on the inside bottom at almost the same location of a shelf that will span between the legs.  I'm pretty confident that it will barely be noticeable.  We have an ongoing discussion in our woodworking group about how we always tends to point out the flaws in our own work.  If the project is a success, in my opinion, I'll take it to the group for our show & tell sessions and see if anyone notices it.  If it bothers me I won't take it to market (so to speak) but won't mind having it for ourselves anyway.


  1. Sorry about your table leg mishap.

    A suggestion, if I may: Why not mortise in a wooden patch? If done cleanly with the right piece of material it will be nearly invisible, and for those who do notice it they can see your skill in patching and know that you care about the details.

  2. Thanks Chris, I'm going to consider that my Christmas present from you! You can tell this was bugging me enough to where I couldn't sleep. Really appreciate the tip -- John

  3. Ca ching!!! You owe us fifty cents for that one, John! Although I do have to congratulate you on the patchwork. We look forward to the finished product. :-) Merry Christmas!

  4. Ca ching!!! You owe us fifty cents for pointing out that error, John! Although I have to congratulate you on the nice patchwork. :-) We look forward to the finished product. Have a Merry Christmas!