Murphy's Law in the Shop

Bad things happen to good people. Want to hear about it? January 2, 2012

Alright guys, time for a laugh. Let's hear some of your best cases of Murphy's Law at work. A few I thought of:

1. If you have a 50' cord or air hose, 49 1/2' will be tangled around something.

2. If you need a piece of wood 34" long, the perfectly sized piece you find will have a knot at 33".

3. The battery only dies when you are in an awkward position holding something in place to screw it in.

4. You only realize you made the panel the wrong size after glue has been applied to the coped ends of the frame.

5. A dropped piece of wood will always land glue side down in the sawdust.

Forum Responses
(Business and Management Forum)
From contributor C:
You stay up past midnight every night to complete all the estimates you must do and the customers never call you back, so you have to call them to see what their status is. They still donít know any dimensions or what appliances they want but they really want you to do all that custom work for them if you would only give them a lower price than the ridiculous one they have from the guy across town!

This one is a recent one for me. You finish spraying all the cabinets only to realize you didnít mix in the catalyst into the finish. But in my case it worked out in the end only because I did mix in the catalyst I just didnít wait the required time afterwards before spraying it.

From contributor K:
1. The screwdriver is always at the other end of the shop.

1A. After you have retrieved the screwdriver and returned to the project, the wrench you now need is where the screwdriver used to be.

1B. If you make a "Command Decision" to move project to where the tools seem to be, the chisel that you now need is where project used to be.

2. You have a supply of every screw ever made. Except for the ones you need for this project, a #9 screw which has to be exactly 3-42/69ths inches long, reverse-threaded and available only through a supplier in Slovenia.

3. If you cut a board too short, you cannot re-cut it longer. Number of attempts will not alter the outcome.

4. If you have one spray gun for stain and another for finish, you will pick up the wrong one every time. 73.4% of the time, the error is not discovered until after you have stated spraying.

5. The "simple" jobs will eat you up.

5A. The "not-simple" jobs will eat you up.

6. When a client who is an attorney says, "No problem!", there will be a problem.

From contributor M:
1. True Story - when changing the blade on the tablesaw you will drop the arbor nut or flange down the dust shroud and up into the dust collection hose
After you have taken the whole mess apart and stuck your entire arm into the hose to retrieve the nut, re-assembled everything when you proceed to install the new blade you will do it again.

2. Did this the other day - after spending a full work day making a part the next morning you will drill pocket screw holes through the show face. The part will be made as such to where you can't flip it over.

3. Another life lesson - sheet goods from the box stores will almost certainly cause more problems than they are worth. Side effects may include but are not limited to headache, nausea, embedded metallic objects, veneer that splinters no matter how you cut it, veneer so thin it is impossible to sand, problems related to warping, laminating veneer, and plys.

4.When you go to re-saw a mile of veneer on the band saw you will find that your freshly installed re-saw blade has drifted while making adjustments hitting the guard and is now dull and unusable.

5. Happens to the best of us - you spend five hours emailing a potential customer, designing a piece of furniture, revising said design, only to find out they were looking to spend $175.00 and that they were just checking with you before they went to Ikea. The quote was for five times their budget.

Finally, you might be a professional woodworker if when at the checkout counter at the store you notice the sawdust falling out of your wallet onto the counter. The cashier than proceeds to comment about how there is more sawdust in your wallet than cash.

From contributor C:
While youíre in the spray booth laying down the final coat on a kitchenís worth of doors your helper decides to blow off the benches and sweep up.
Also, do you have shop gremlins? One day you have five cabinet scrapers and ten razor knifes - the next day you can't find any. Then a week later they all re-appear when you don't need them.

From contributor B:
When doing a complicated glue up or making a tricky calculation, it is inevitable that your least favorite song will come on the radio for the third time in the last four hours. Salesmen always show up when you are just about to break for lunch. The garbage can is always full. When all else fails, throw the piece in the woodstove and start over.

From contributor R:
The first fact given by a customer, and usually the only decision they have made, is the delivery date. Maybe not a true Murphy's Law, but a source of constant sorrow for me.

From contributor G:
I have two that I just couldn't make up if I tried. When I was 17 I was working with a tablesaw with a powerfeed on it for the first time (the powerfeed was mounted on an arm to the right of the 52" rip fence). So, I changed the sawblade, and being very safety oriented, unplugged both the saw and the powerfeed. When I plugged them back in I had switched up the cords inadvertently. Well, they were three phase and wired different. So when I put the board in both the powerfeed and saw were running backwards - can you say scary and a bent blade. Yikes!

Hereís a recent one - on my recent shop drawing submittal I called out a unique panel product with the part name SOT-005. It was a typo, should have been SST-005. It was approved as SOT-005. As Murphy would have it, they actually have an SOT-005 product as well and it is ordered as such. Some days you just can't win.

From contributor U:
1. The one time you don't confirm the set-up on a tool after break times, someone will have changed it at lunch time to work on a personal project and you need to remake the part. This usually only happens to parts that take several hours to remake and the set-ups you need to re-make it will have been torn down 20 minutes ago.

2. You send out drawings to the floor of a custom product complete with an order of assembly instruction. The cabinetmaker tasked with building it decides he "knows the right way of doing it" and changes everything. None of the changes are documented. It is due for finishing first thing Wednesday morning. He calls in sick on Tuesday morning, you try to get someone else to finish it but after an hour of trying to wrap your head around it you just have no idea how the hell it is supposed to go together now. The job ships late, so instead of getting a check to cover payroll, you are running off your line of credit, which by the way is secured by your house.

2A. The guy doesn't call in sick, it gets done on time. Upon installation a defect is noticed, you take the original drawing and get someone else to make a replacement part. It gets finished and sent to site where the installer discovers it won't work with the "new" way the product was made.

3. You run your last door edge profile with the door face up. The cutter required the door be run face down. See #1 for what has happened to the cope and stick set-up for that door.

4. The boss says he needs a sample door made for a meeting on Friday. You are busy and decide that you can start it on Wednesday and have it done in plenty of time. On Monday afternoon he tells you the meeting has been moved up to tomorrow morning. You also happen to be halfway through a run of 60 doors that are a completely different profile.