Down for the count

Have you ever made a really dumb mistake very early in a piece your were making, but you made the mistake so well that even though you continued looking at it right through the projectís completion that you never noticed? Till too late?

I have quite recently, and it was a doozy. I say recently, but I really made the mistake nearly 10 months ago, and itís only now that I spotted it. The error relates to something I worked on for a book, so I donít want to say exactly what it was Ė most people wonít notice it, so why point it out? (Besides, itís more than a little embarrassing.) Suffice to say that the error was of a type relating to the correct number of things in a measure-twice-cut-once sort of way, but unless youíre really looking for it chances are good you wouldnít notice it. I sure didnít.

Itís like you were making a large cabinet with a lot of identical drawers Ė like a spice cabinet or sheet-music cabinet reproduced from an existing piece Ė but somewhere along the line you goofed in the number and just kept on working, never noticing that you were a few drawers short. And why would you? You did a good job, the work was good, the result good. So good, in fact, that every time you looked at it all you saw was a nicely done cabinet with a lot of drawers and never noticed it didnít have the correct number it was supposed to have. Compounding it is the fact that you showed it to several people, and they never noticed either.

In my case, the incorrect piece appears in a photo Ė a very large photo, but still just a photo, meaning no one will be touching it or closely examining the physical piece. The end result, hopefully, is that few people will notice before I get a chance to remake the project and replace the photo. And thereís even a good chance that anyone eagle-eyed enough to notice may assume I did it intentionally.

I feel really dumb about the error, and even dumber that I never noticed until recently. But luck is on my side in the sense that itís so unnoticeable, plus Iíll eventually get the opportunity to fix it. More importantly, itís a key part of the learning curve for working in a shop all the time:

You canít really make your work count if you canít count.

Till next time,



  • Thomas says:

    It seems to me, that since you are involved in the publishing side of this business, you should take the opportunity to post your mistake as a sort of where’s Waldo type article. We all make mistakes, which I think is necessary for learning either what not to do or how to fix our mistakes. The best craftsman are the best because they know how to fix mistakes that they have made, not because they do not make mistakes.
    I think we would all learn from you, so there is no need to feel embarressed. Let me find Waldo, it’s OK.

  • A.J. Hamler says:

    Unfortunately, I’m not able to post photos on the blog. Also unfortunately, in my case it’s not an issue of being a good enough craftsman to “fix” the mistake. The mistake isn’t fixable. However, I can remake the piece, and do it correctly the second time. Which, I guess, is a fix of sorts.

    Ya, know, that Waldo just never stays in one place, does he?


  • Seems like its really not a mistake, its just an original!

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