The door to enlightenment

I recently reviewed a woodworking article written by someone who had no idea what he was talking about, and laughably so.

Among the many editing jobs I do is to review home and garden articles for online publication. These run the gamut from general home improvement to lawn maintenance but, as you might imagine, I like to grab the woodworking titles. As with subject material, these articles also run the gamut from being pretty darned good to side-splittingly awful. One article that recently caught my attention was a particularly bad one involving the construction of stile-and-rail doors.

Not sure how or where this guy got his info; considering the wealth of valuable woodworking information on the Internet, it’s amazing he managed to stumble on all the wrong ones. The writer claimed to be writing the article from his own experience, but as you’ll see from the following description, he clearly did minimal online research and then had no understanding of what he was reading.

He instructs the reader to cut two stiles measuring 4” x 36” x 80”, then a pair of rails measuring 4” x 4” x 36”. His method of joinery to hold these massive beams? Glue the rails between the stiles.

So, assuming that the 4” dimension is the thickness, my math says that combining those two 36” wide stiles with 36” rails is going to result in a door 108″ wide. Perfectly reasonable, I suppose, if he’s keeping King Kong behind those doors. And considering what the doors are going to end up weighing, he’ll need King Kong to help put them in place.

There were many more hilarious inaccuracies in the rest of the instructions based “on his own experience,” but suffice to say the article was justifiably rejected.

It’s amazing to think that an otherwise intelligent and educated writer could make so many terrible search choices, and then draw such incredibly wrong conclusions. That’s bad enough, but then not having the common sense to do the math and realize that the doors he’s creating would be too large for even your average medieval castle – well, that’s just plain sad.

If this is any indication of what the average person knows about woodworking, is it any wonder that so many cabinet shops keep bumping into so many clueless customers?



  • Chuck says:

    Coould the writer have been talking about Millimeters?? or Ants Eyebrows??

  • Clueless writer? Absolutely, and I agree that he does indeed set himself up for evaluation as part of the act of submitting an article.

    Clueless customers? That’s a whole other kettle of fish, and the attitude that your customers are clueless leads them to detect arrogance and an air of superiority on your part. Which leads them to spend their money somewhere else.

    Here’s the deal. EVERYONE is “clueless” when compared to an expert in a field. When you go to the doctor, you’re clueless when you compare your knowledge—no matter how much research you did—to his or her knowledge, acquired over time treating thousands of patients.

    Same deal at your auto mechanics place, or with the wait staff at your favorite restaurant. So think about how YOU feel when you don’t know what part of you (or your car) is broken, or that it’s a really bad idea to order the fish stew on a Sunday evening, because it’s three days old.

    A good “expert” HELPS his customers. He EXPECTS them to be “clueless”, and through effective communications and a positive attitude he educates them, wins their business, trust and loyalty.

    That’s the best clue I can give you.

  • He is sadly the same guy who wants me to install a $22.00 door from a big box store for $50.00, let’s see the door cost $22.00 the hardware costs $50.00 the paint and labor is 100 bucks and my tools to install well I own over $5000.00 in door tools, and he wants American quality and only willing to pay China prices.
    These kind of people are only internet smart and life stupid.

    James C. Bunch
    Door contractor

  • If a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, then some of the “experts” I’ve seen are very dangerous. It seems that sometimes being able to write coherent sentences is more important than expertise.

  • A.J. Hamler says:

    Weldon — As it happens, this guy’s sentences weren’t all that coherent.

  • these ” how to” t.v. shows don’t help the matter. I’ve seen so called experts doing things wrong in front of millions of viewers. Sure wish someone would teach me how to cut material without any sawdust though, like they do on t.v. I’ve been at it for 35 years and still making a mess

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