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by Steven D. Johnson
Racine, Wisconsin

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The Runner-Up Screw-Up

Click on any picture to see a larger version.

Figure 3 - Another moment of despair... it doesn't fit!

It was January and we were in the midst of one of our several stretches of seventeen-below-zero weather… my shop heat was having trouble keeping up. With numb hands, and apparently a numb head as well, I decided to finally finish a project I started last year. It would probably only take an hour or so (the conceit that was likely my undoing), and I had enough scrap 1/2 inch plywood to do the job.

Last year I cut a hole in the second floor wall, built a shroud, mounted it, sealed it up, wired it up to a switch, and installed a powerful exhaust fan. I used it throughout the summer to draw cool air through the windows and sometimes to exhaust noxious smells from my shop. It was a truly workman-like job, if I do say so myself. But I never built a "winter" cover for the shroud, and even with self-closing louvers on the outside, I was losing heat. I reckoned that a simple tight-fitting plywood box that would slip over the end of the fan shroud would do the trick.

Figure 4 - Give me enough chances and I'll eventually
get it right! Fits like a glove.

The width and height of the square shroud is 17-1/2" so I added a quarter-inch and made a nice "cover" box with inside dimensions of 17-3/4" X 17-3/4". Perhaps it was my frozen frontal cortex or my "I can knock this out in an hour" delusion, but the extra quarter-inch only allowed me 1/8" "wiggle room" on all sides… not enough.

When the glue was dry, I did get significantly warmer trying to slide the too small box onto the shroud, punctuating my efforts with colorful epithets. Admitting my mistake, I made another box, this time adding a half-inch and giving myself a quarter-inch of wiggle room on all sides.

Now I have a weird little plywood box cluttering my otherwise 5S compliant shop… I am using it to hold some bottles and cans of equipment maintenance supplies, and will pass it off as purposeful… no one has to know it was a mistake… well, except for you.

Figure 5 - Have you ever had to "re-purpose" a mistake?
How embarrassing!

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