Sunday, December 19, 2010

Again with the negativity.

I had a bad interaction with my boss on Friday.  We had been asked to replicate some crown molding that had originally been made at least 50 years ago.  The customer only needed about 20 linear feet, so paying hundreds of dollars to have a special cutter head made to match that profile was out of the question.  The other way to make crown is to piece it together - make separate pieces then glue them together to make the full molding.  My boss and I discussed how to go about making it and away I went.

First I needed to purchase a new router bit.  There was a bead detail at the bottom of the crown that we couldn't match with any of our bits.  So my boss sent me to our local blade sharpening shop to see if they had the bit we needed.  They don't stock many bits, and the woman there suggested I go to another local store as they would have a larger selection.  I decided to just go to the other store rather than call my boss to see if that was what he wanted me to do.  There isn't any need for me to check my every move with him, I can make these decisions on my own.  Or so I thought.

At the second store they had what we wanted for $40.  I had looked online for this bit and knew that we could get it for about $32 (prior to shipping, which would essentially bring it up to $40).  Since money is tight, and since I know my boss, I decided to call him and clear this purchase.  Well, he wasn't happy.  Why didn't I ask at the first store if they could order it for us?  $40?  That's a lot for a router bit.... and on, and on.  Well, ok, go ahead and buy it.  So much anxiety over a frikkin router bit.

I get back to the shop and start working on the molding.  The top piece was easy enough - a basic bullnose - so that was done pretty quick.  The bottom piece was going to take some more planning.  I slowly moved my way through the process of making it.  Two passes with a box roundover bit; eat away a small amount with the dado blade.

The next step could have been done with either the router table or the same setup I already had with the dado blade.  I opted for the dado blade since it was already set, and would minimize any tearout.  The downside would be that it would require more sanding to get rid of the marks the blades left, but we were using a fairly soft wood, so they should sand out quickly.  The router table option would have taken some time to set up, I would have had to make multiple passes on the setup, and there was a higher possibility for tearout.  So I figured it was easier and quicker to use the dado setup.

After the dado blade, I had one more setup on the router, with the new bit.  I had to run the wood on it's edge, which makes for all sorts of possible mayhem if you don't plan carefully.  I re-set the power feed to accommodate the wood running on it's edge, added two feather boards, and one straight board on top to keep the wood from rising up as it passed across the router bit.  A test board came out nicely, and I ran the real wood.  This setup also took multiple passes as I had to run the bit pretty far into the wood.

All in all, it took about 5 hours to make this stuff.  But I was proud of it.  It was a very close match, and since the final product wasn't going directly up against existing molding, close was acceptable.  Very close was extra nice.

I sanded the bullnose and was about to start sanding the lower part when my boss came back to the shop.  He looked at the two parts of my molding and started to criticize it.  I saw him look at the bullnose with some suspicion, but he didn't comment.  Then he saw the saw marks on the lower part and asked why the marks were there.  Dado blade, I said.  Well, he said with a big sigh, that's a lot of sanding.  And this part here, the bead detail, this doesn't seem to be right.  It looks like it wasn't set up right.  That's not good.  Another sigh.

I said that the dado blade was the cleanest option for that section of the molding.  I wanted to add, Well Mike, you aren't going to be doing the sanding, so don't fret.  I looked at the bead detail and there was a section that needed a bit of sanding to improve it, but it was in no way defective.

Really I wanted to slap him.  I know this is part of his personality - he is Chicken Little personified: the sky is falling - and he rarely sees the positive in life.  I've gotten used to that for the most part.  But, really.  I had just spent 5 hours working on a task that we aren't necessarily set up to do most of the time.  Sure, we can replicate old molding, but that doesn't mean that we can do it quickly or as perfectly as a shop that specializes in that sort of thing.  But nothing is ever fucking good enough for Mike, it seems.

For some reason, this time his complaints really hit me harder than normal.  It really pointed out how negative he is.  And how exhausting that is for me.  I'm not always Little Miss Cheery, but I sure as hell can see the positive in most situations.  Not Mike.  And working with someone like that wears on you.

Mike walked back off to his office and I proceeded to sand the bottom part of the molding.  It took a little bit of work, but I have tricks up my sleeve, and got 20 feet sanded in about 45 minutes.

Then, as I was leaving for the day, Mike asked me if the crown was done.  It's been sanded to 120, I told him, now it just needs to be glued up and final sanded.  A small frown crossed his face.  Did all the saw marks come out, he asked?  If one of our designers wasn't sitting there at that moment, I probably would have said something snarky to Mike.  Did he really think that I'm so fucking incompetent that I would have left saw marks?  I've been doing this work for 9 years now, I think I can sand properly.  But out of respect for the designer and for Mike, I merely said "of course".


This whole thing just lit a hotter fire under my ass to find my next career.


Bosco said...

Sounds like you got skills. Some people are never happy!

Laura said...

Bosco- thanks for the vote of confidence, sight unseen! 8^)