Last Friday, I shared my finished music room bookcases with you. What I didn’t share during that whole project was the pretty major snafu that happened while I was building the bookcases.
At first, I didn’t think it was really significant enough to share, but after thinking about it, I decided that since mistakes are just as much a part of the DIY process, and learning to deal with those mistakes is a pretty important skill for any DIYer to learn, then I needed to share this. I don’t ever want people thinking that all of my projects go smoothly from start to finish. I make plenty of mistakes, and I have learned to just deal with them and move on rather than wallowing in frustration and disappointment about my project not being perfect.
You can see my mistake here in this picture…
Can you see it? It’s there on the side of the bookcase towards the bottom.
You may remember from the building process that the sides of each bookcases are MDF, and because of the design, each side is a different width. The side that goes against the wall is 12 inches wide, while the non-wall side of the bookcase is 14.25 inches wide. Well, as I was building the bookcase on the right, I needed to cut the hole for the electrical outlet on the piece that went against the wall before putting that piece into place. So I measured and marked the placement of the outlet on the MDF piece, and then used my drill and jigsaw to cut out the hole. Then I nailed it into place against the wall.
Then I went to look for the 14.25-inch piece so that I could add it to the other side of the bookcase, and I couldn’t find it anywhere. That’s when I realized that I had just cut the outlet hole in the wrong piece and nailed it to the wall.
Any time a mistake is made, you have two obvious choices: (1) start over, or (2) salvage it. I almost immediately got in my car and headed to Home Depot to get more MDF, but then I decided that I could probably salvage this. So I finished building the bookcase, and then found the piece that I had cut out for the outlet. I used lots wood glue around the edges, and stuck the piece back in the hole. To make sure that it lined up perfectly, I put a piece of wax paper on each side (outside and inside the boockase) and nailed a scrap piece of wood to each side on top of the wax paper.
I left it alone to dry for about 24 hours, and then removed the scrap board and wax paper. It wasn’t pretty, but it was a good start at fixing my mistake.
Then I loaded that thing up with wood filler, left it to dry overnight, and sanded it down with my sander and 150-grit sandpaper. It was kind of smooth, but I could still see and feel ridges of wood glue around the edges. So as a final step to get it as smooth as possible, I put a coat of drywall mud over it, let it dry overnight, and then sanded it as smooth as possible with 220-grit sandpaper, being careful not to sand it down so much that those wood glue ridges would be exposed again.
The drywall mud did the trick. Drywall mud sands so smoothly, and it covered the slight ridges left by the wood glue. And now, with the bookcase primed and painted, I don’t think that anyone would ever notice.
Mistakes are going to happen. If you DIY as much as I do, they’re inevitable. In my opinion, learning how to deal with the mistakes is as important to the process of becoming a skilled DIYer as learning how to use power tools.