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Fixing the Five Most Common Woodworking Mistakes

Updated on May 16, 2012

Whether you’re a first time woodworker or you’re a seasoned pro, you can bet that mistakes are going to happen no matter what woodworking project you’re working on next. But you don’t have to start over from scratch just because you made a small blunder. Use this guide to fixing the five most common woodworking mistakes and you’ll be able to turn a near disaster into a woodworking success.


When a nail is driven into a piece of wood and it hits a knot or hard spot in the wood grain, the nail can puncture through the side of the wood, creating a nasty eye sore known as a shiner. A shiner can easily be repaired by removing the nail and sealing the puncture with wood glue. Back the nail out with a nail punch and pry bar. Use a dab of wood glue and clamp the project together, shimming the clamp with a piece of wax paper and wood shim. Once it’s dry, a light sanding will remove the wax paper and any leftover glue residue.

Wood Burn

Whether it’s from a router or table saw, wood burn can leave a nasty mark on wood projects. To make matters worse, it’s nearly impossible to remove these nasty brown wood stains. The trick to removing wood burns after they have been inflicted is to restart the cut. Adjust the depth of your bit or blade so that a ½ or ¼ of the blades width worth of wood is removed from behind the wood burn. Make a nice slow pass with the power tool to remove all wood burns without a trace.

Screw Adjustments

It’s very easy to put a hinge into the wrong spot in the wood face. When minor adjustments are needed and the new screw hole is right next to the old screw hole, the new screw cannot tap properly and will eventually fall out of the hole. Before you screw into an area of wood that already has a screw hole nearby, fill the hole with a few toothpicks first and your new screw will go in without a hitch.


Let’s face it: if you’ve ever used a hammer, you’ve missed the nail once or twice and dented the wood. When wood dents occur, you can remove them by filling the dent with a small amount of water. Put the dent on a level surface and place a 60 watt desk lamp over the project. In just a few hours, the wood will have absorbed the water, fixed the dent and become dry. Add more water as needed until the dent no longer remains.

Board Stretcher

It’s a common joke among framing crews to haze the new workers by making them get tools that don’t exist. A board stretcher a tool that doesn’t really exist, but would come in handy when you make a cut that is shorter than the actual measurement you need for your woodworking project. To really stretch a board that has been cut too short can be simple if you cut the piece diagonally and glue, nail or screw the boards back together slightly longer than they originally were. If you can trade the board’s length for its width, then you can salvage short cuts with ease.


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