a touch of cliché

I associate certain aphorisms with my grandfather's generation. I've come to adopt a few over the years as life reminds me of the consequences of poor choices, and I'll even admit to uttering one or more of them in public. However (as I age) I find several of them more pointedly apt than I'd like.

For example:
  • "Haste makes waste",
  • "Measure twice and cut once",
  • "Penny wise and pound foolish", and
  • "Look before you leap",
for starters. 

As a result of a variety of recent events, I offer the following observations.

Don't skimp. When making multiple pieces of the same cross-section from your milled bar stock, leave enough material between each piece for proper parting off and cleaning up of each end. Otherwise you'll suffer from a poor finish and/or undersized parts. After all, one of the reasons you're making all this stuff by yourself is because you want it to look and perform in a superior fashion to the store-bought imported crap, right? Saving .030" of material here and there is not going to break the bank.

Check your setup; again. Yes, take the 12 seconds to walk back to the workbench to get the square you absent-mindedly left on it to check the alignment of the tool. Don't kid yourself - it's not "close enough" for parting off. If it just happens to be correct, you can chalk that up to luck rather than as a result of attention to detail and best practice. Professional results flow from professional behviours.

Sort out your $#!^. Nothing wastes time like hunting for the right Allen wrench or chuck key. Plan out the upcoming job in your head before you start. Get the necessary tools ready (and ONLY the necessary ones) and have them accessible when you are standing at the machine. There are good reasons why doctors have a tray (or two) of specific items ready for each operation; it speeds the process and reduces mistakes. If you find yourself frequently looking for tools in the middle of each job, it's a good sign that you don't fully understand the process(es).

Make a list, check it twice. You need a few items; raw material, a replacement drill bit, a new bulb for the gooseneck lamp, cap screws, or what have you. Write them down in a list. Go through the upcoming job(s) in your head (see above) and add the items you just realised you ALSO need to the list. Now go through your shop and make sure that the components & tools you THINK you have are actually there. Add these missing ones to your list. If you're located outside of a town centre I'd even go as far as to check the store(s) that you're planning to obtain the items from to see if they've got the requisite parts in stock before starting the car.

And, yes, there are one or more stories behind each observation.

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