Builders Challenge: Part III

Working with dowels was yet another new skill for me to attempt. I’m still somewhat challenged when it comes to drilling straight, so I knew there was NO WAY I was going to attempt to drill dowel holes freehand, especially 1/2″ in size. I did some research online and saw a few dowel jigs that people made and decided to try it.

Using an ancient drill press didn’t make it easy and my hole was slightly off center, but straight up and down. I wasn’t going to try and wrestle the clamps and drill press again and decided I would try to compensate later. I used a 2×2 cutoff since I would be drilling the holes in the 2×2 legs. I then glued that to a piece of thin mdf board.

I was pretty excited after using my jig on the table legs! I then moved on to the lap joints of the table top frame.

The first hole I drilled ended up with a chunk of wood chipping out on the bottom. Luckily Tim showed up after that and suggested putting an old 2×4 underneath to drill into which solved the problem. I was able to glue the chipped piece back into place.

The next step was to dry/test fit the legs and hold my breath with the hope that, between the dowel holes in the legs and the ones in the table top, the alignment wouldn’t be too far off. Thank goodness that although only one was really amazing, none of the rest were off enough to draw attention.

I stained the legs and then glued the dowels into the base. WOOOOOT!! This was a pretty exciting moment for me. Okay, really, the whole thing was filled with exciting moments, but I did hold my breath a TON.

Next step is to cut off the extra dowel. I purchased a flush trim saw for another new skill attempt. I watched a few youtube videos and saw someone use a plastic card to protect the surface and thought that was a good idea, especially for a first timer. I put my AAA card to good use.

Again, holding my breath, I went for it. I was thrilled that I managed to saw off 8 dowels without gouging the table top! The only problem I discovered with this method, however, is that it leaves a good bit to sand. It took me forever to sand the rest of the dowels down and I did end up leaving some light sand marks on the top. Maybe no one would notice, but I saw it. Fargo wasn’t super impressed with the amount of sanding I was doing.

I might have been a little teary when I rubbed on some Weatherwash Clear Maintenance Oil and saw how beautiful the cedar and the dowels came out.

I’ll leave it here for now. I may be able to wrap it up in one more post, but I’m not making any promises.

Peony Party 2019

We interrupt the very wordy Builders Challenge blog posts to bring you pictures of the amazing Peony Party of 2019. I guess the copious amounts of rain has pleased the peonies, because they have been spectacular this year. They are sadly already on their way out. If you follow me on Instagram, you will have seen these, but I felt they were worth a blog post.

Bonus dianthus with a pretty visitor.

Builders Challenge: Part II

The Season 7 plans were for a cell phone charging table/nightstand. I was very happy when I saw someone asked my question as to whether the charger was necessary and that the answer was no. I don’t see us ever using something like that, and I knew I wanted an entryway table and there is no plug anywhere nearby.

As a bonus, the plans arrived a day early, so I took that first day to inventory my supplies, figure out what wood I wanted to use, and make a quick trip to gather a few items. We’ve had 1×4 cedar boards laying around for a while and I thought this would be a great opportunity to use them. I really only needed the 2x2s, a 1×6, drawer pull and a dowel (first dowel purchase).

The next morning, at 4:30am, I was pouring over the plans, trying to figure out how to put some of me in them, and HERRINGBONE flashed before my eyes. The middle piece of the table top was designated as plywood in the plans and that is where the charger would have gone (underneath), but I was seeing the center section as herringbone.

Lap joints were recommended for the table top frame. I’d never tried lap joints, which can apparently be created via several methods. I watched Lazy Guy DIY’s video to learn more. One option, the best option, is the table saw. I hadn’t yet used the table saw, and frankly, I have an overly healthy fear of it.

So, I tried the hand held router tool, and chiseled out the rest.

Circular saw and chisel.

Neither of which ended with an acceptable result.

Granted, these are two different thicknesses of wood, but oy! It’s a lap joint, but an ugly one.

I posted about my lap joint trials and tribulations on Instagram with The Builders Challenge hashtags and I was amazed that one of the organizers reached out and offered to help. She sent me the link to a video of how she makes lap joints on the table saw. Her way didn’t look as scary because the blade is covered by the wood at all times since you’re only removing half. LOOOOOK!!!!!!! Thank you 3×3 Custom!!!

I didn’t originally realize that the cedar boards had a rough side and a smooth side. After sanding, I loved them both, so beautiful. I decided to make the table top frame with two smooth sides and two rough sides.

Originally, I was going to use pine 1x2s for the herringbone to tie into the rest of the pine I was using. When I did a mock up, it just wasn’t doing it for me.

I loved the cedar, so I cut a few pieces and knew it was right. Again I opted for a combination of smooth side and rough side.

I’ll get back to the dowels later. One thing I learned from doing my second herringbone with the puzzle method was that I like doing it the way I did the first one better. In the future, if possible, I will be doing the herringbone layout and glue up, I will zip off the excess and build the frame around it. Trying to fit teeny tiny pieces into the corners was a lot of sanding and very little fun. And, spoiler for later, this picture shows a dry fit. I took all of those pieces out in order to glue them to a backer board and they did not want to go back together as well the second time.

One other detail I’ll point out here is that I originally intended the lighter side of each long board to line the middle (see lap joint frame picture). In the picture above, you can see a light streak on the left inside of the left board. The light streak on the right board is on the outside and should be on the inside. I was so focused on the next step, the dowels, that I didn’t pay attention when I was laying the frame boards down. I’m sure not many people would notice, and I still love it, but it does bother me a tiny bit. Woodworking is about being present in the moment and paying attention to the details. This is something I need to really work on because my mind is always racing ahead.

That’s probably enough babble for now. I’m thinking there may be a Part IV at this rate. Next up will be dowels and legs and maybe the drawer. Thanks for continuing along with me on this journey!

Builders Challenge Table: Part I

This post has a lot more text than usual…fair warning. If you’ve followed along with my Empty Nest journey at all, you’ll know that it’s been hard for me. It is especially hard because our kiddos are far away and we only see them twice, maybe three times per year. In an attempt to fill my time in a productive and positive manner, I tried a number of hobbies. Some were hobbies I had done in the past, and some were new. Woodworking was definitely new, and not only did I enjoy, I LOVED it. I have mostly used the tools Tim has gathered over the past 30 years, though we’ve added a few. The entire impetus behind insulating the garage was to have more comfortable woodworking space because I’m hooked!

Though I have such a huge learning curve to deal with, I participated in Season 7 of The Builders Challenge on Instagram. If you have an Instagram account, but you don’t yet follow me, I am @taughtthemtofly. I learned about it when I saw people posting pictures from Season 6 and, once I found out there would be a Novice category, decided to commit. This event has three categories, Novice, Intermediate and Finest Craftsman and you self selected what level to enter. Given that I’ve only been at this for a short time, and I had no joinery experience beyond pocket holes (not that there’s anything wrong with pocket holes!), it was easy to determine I was a Novice.

Let me take a moment here to thank Tim, Fargo (who hung out with me), our kiddos, family and friends. I was obsessed with this project, talked about it nonstop, worked on it for hours, sent SO MANY pictures asking for feedback, etc. Tim learned some stuff along with me, was my moral support, and cheerleader. He even tried lap joints on the table saw first (neither of us had used a table saw), so I could feel at least a bit less intimidated. Many of you sent messages of support and I appreciate you all!

I filled out the registration form, and on May 4 I received the build plan for Novice, which had been a secret up until that point. Participants would have 3 weeks to complete the build and were encouraged to personalize the plan and post progress pictures with specific hashtags so that we could follow each other’s progress. I am really proud of myself for committing to this as it was a huge stretch of my comfort zone to put myself out there in front of so many AMAZING woodworkers. WHAT A WONDERFUL EXPERIENCE!!!

The organizers and participants made this so incredibly positive by reaching out to answer questions, or share tutorials, or give moral support. I learned so many new things by trying what was suggested in the plan, versus sticking with what little I know. I had some ups and downs, and there are definitely things I would approach differently from the hindsight perspective. I also did not judge my timing well and finished early. I could have taken more time to think it through and refine my ideas, but I was too worried about finishing on time. Hopefully, as I continue to learn and grow, I’ll be able to better judge planning and process time.

I took a lot of pictures throughout this build, close to 40 will make it into the blog. Many of them are on Instagram. Results were announced yesterday and I didn’t win the amazing prize package, but I still won in many other ways. In Part II, I will take you along with me for the first steps of building my table.

Matching Nightstand

Although this was the third nightstand I built, it was the second type of nightstand. This Reclaimed Wood Look Bedside Table was another Ana White plan. It had a few firsts for me, including making side panels and installing drawer slides. I learned a lot while building this, though I learn a lot with every build.

Here is a view of the side panel, boards are attached to each other with pocket hole screws. I opted for one coat of stain prior to assembly because it is hard to get all the nooks and crannies once it is together.

Here you can see the pocket holes on the inside. Fargo is inspecting the assembly of the two sides. I was very proud and excited that it was all square!

Also square, were my drawer boxes.

First time installing drawer slides.

I had seen several people use a deck of cards to center drawer faces. Unfortunately, these cards were so slippery, that it made the process extra challenging. Centering drawer faces well is something I think I’ll be working on for a while.

For the top, I laid all the boards out and lined them up, then clamped one board in place to use as a guide for the rest.

Added the knobs and here it is!!

I again used Weatherwash Rusted Stain and Satin Varnish, as those are what I used on the headboard. I ordered the drawer slides from Rocklers, and the knobs are from Home Depot.

My next few posts will focus on the table I built for The Builders Challenge, which took place on Instagram. My current build is a dresser to match the headboard and nightstand. Stay tuned!

Catching Up and a Headboard and Nightstand Pair

The months fly by, seemingly faster as I get older. When I started this post, it was a March round up and I was asking, “where did March go?” I’m wondering the same about April! Now that yard/garden work is in the mix, I’ve been keeping ridiculously busy. I’ve actually started posting a few times and just haven’t finished. Today is the day though!

I do want to share one of the highlights of March, which was seeing the eldest, who was on the East Coast for work and was able to hop a bus to spend two days with us.

Another highlight was the youngest having her artwork selected for a second gallery show in Pasadena. It’s bitter-sweet for us as we are super duper proud and would so love to be able to attend these events. We are grateful the kiddos are nearby-ish to each other and can be supportive in person.

Tim and I bought new wedding bands from Groove Life and I posted about them on Instagram. We’ve been wearing them for a few weeks now and we are both really pleased.

I’ve been logging a few miles 3-4 times/week since January. I ran outside a few weeks ago for the first time in WAY TOO long. I’m slower than the slow I already was before, but I’m proud of myself for getting back into the swing of some weekly miles.

Fargo has really taken to his role as driveway workshop dog. He doesn’t always opt for the bed, but he enjoys being outside with me when it’s sunny. It’s hard to see in this picture, but I’m getting quite the silver streaks going on both sides of my hair. I started using a new hashtag on Instagram: #silverhairandsawdust.

Okay, now on to the headboard and nightstand. A friend asked me to build these for her son’s room, with the understanding that I would be learning through the process. I learned a TON through both of these, as they each had elements (such as drawer slides) that I had never done before. I will show some end result pictures here, and hopefully do a more in depth post about the builds.

Both were Ana White plans. Both are finished with two coats of Weatherwash Rusted Stain and Satin Varnish. I know I need to expand beyond Weatherwash at some point, but I really love their results.

We’ve also done so much in the shop (garage) and I will get a post up with all of those pictures/descriptions as well. Hope Spring is treating you all well!

February ’19 Wrap-Up

We are updating our kitchen and dining room lighting after almost fourteen years. Up until now, we’ve used the lights that were here when we bought the house. First up was the kitchen fan light. The others are purchased and are on the to-do list to get installed.

Here is a quick, mostly picture post to share the rest of the empty nest goings on around here.

I tried a new recipe, which we really enjoyed. We still have butternut squash to use, so I found a recipe called Butternut Squash Chickpea Coconut Curry. Really quite yummy (I also added some potato that needed to be used up).

We are making some good progress on the shop (garage)! Tim installed a heater, which we’ve had running to keep the shop comfortable and which is allowing us to do drywall work in Winter. Our electric bill was definitely on the higher side this month.

All of the new drywall is primed and painted. Unfortunately, the folks who taped/mudded the ceiling and wall adjoining the house, did not cover the tape. The tape and mud have been falling off and crumbling for years, so Tim is re-doing all of it. This is taking a lot of time, and requires constant shifting of the HUGE PILES OF STUFF. I can actually see the light at the end of the tunnel, though, which is exciting.

Same wall, next day.

Previous ceiling mud.

I got my first ever work boots a few months ago, and they are getting a workout, and I love them!

I opted for a compromise on the kiddos’ bedrooms. Although they will likely only be home once a year, I still always want them to feel like their rooms. The eldest’s has a queen sized bed (our old one) and is our default guest room. I’ve now moved sewing machines, fabric and all other related items into the youngest’s room. She is the one who sews, so it made sense. It doesn’t change the character of the space so it still feels like it’s her room.

Although I’m not doing yoga every day, I am still making sure to include it 2-3 days/week. I’ve actually been putting in some treadmill miles since the beginning of the year. It’s been a long time since I’ve been consistently logging miles 4-5 times/week. I never thought I could be even more of a “back of the packer” than I was, but it’s possible.

Fargo and I take a moment to pause now and again and reflect on our empty nest life. In this moment, we were pondering the increasing number of gray hairs we both have.

There’s so much more, but I’ll leave on a fun note. One of the many amazing woodworkers I follow on Instagram, The Awesome Orange, came up with a shirt idea that I fell in love with. I couldn’t resist getting it and I was extra excited when I found the sticker she enclosed with the shirt. Trading stickers seems to be a big thing in the woodworking community and I now have my first one.

Happy 2019!

Writing a blog post has been on the to-do list for way too long. Although I’ve spent time watching woodworking youtube and Instagram videos, I’ve really kept pretty busy with projects that pushed the blog further and further down the list. Today seems like a good day to cross “blog post” off the list…til I add it back on there tomorrow.

The kiddos were just home for a week+ visit, which was so very wonderful. It was a year since they had been home, and it will likely be a year til their next trip back, so we all tried hard to appreciate squeezing each other. Hopefully we’ll see them somewhere on the West Coast during the year. Saying goodbye NEVER gets easier and I’ve allowed myself a few sad days since they left. We kept forgetting to take a really nice family picture while they were here, so here are our “smile through the tears” goodbye airport selfies.

When your kiddos live on the other side of the country, and you only see them three times/year, it’s hard. 2018 is when it really hit me that they’re not coming back. I’ve been blogging about empty nest for three years, but this is the year it really hit me, hard. They love where they live, they love the people who surround them. Unfortunately, where they live is not a place where Tim and I could ever see ourselves living. A lot of the past year (and probably the next few years) will be spent trying to figure out what this means for us.

I am proud of myself for the fact that through this tough realization, I was able to keep moving forward with my Hobby Adventures. Under the “better late than never” category, I found woodworking. I love it! If you’ve followed along here, you’ll know that with Tim’s help/knowledge, youtube/Instagram tutorials and inspiration, websites like Shanty-2-Chic, Ana White, Rogue Engineer, and more, there is a new workbench, miter saw cart, lumber storage cart, bed, nightstands, corbel lights, and more in the house.

This new found passion has led to the garage insulation project. Yesterday, we finished the ceiling insulation which was a HUGE accomplishment. We even managed to do it in one day!! Tim was amazing with how he maneuvered around in that tight space, something I tried to do and had small space anxiety.

I was in my protective gear the entire time.

The garage door insulation is done.

And one of two exterior walls.

Unfortunately, everything we moved is along the remaining wall, so it will take time to clear it all away and finish. Then we still need to mud/tape and organize EVERYTHING. After yesterday’s accomplishment though, I’m feeling really excited about it all. Can’t wait to finish because (as previously mentioned) I want to make SO MANY THINGS!!

Lots of changes are happening in 2019 which I’m really excited about. I will definitely try hard to take you along on this journey of learning. Thank you to everyone, especially my family and friends, who have supported me with words and actions, along the way.

Happy New Year to all, and best wishes for a happy and healthy 2019. Hoping we all have a year of fun, adventure, opportunity, achievement and education.

Smaller Pieces Out of Wood

As promised, late, but getting done, I wanted to share pictures of some of the smaller pieces I’ve been working on. I had a bunch of leftover 1x4s from the bed, and some leftover 1×12 from the nightstands since I didn’t use it for the bottom shelves. I used it for the following, using inspiration from some of the AMAZING woodworkers I follow online and on Instagram.

Completely unrelated is that my phone died. I lost some pictures, unfortunately, and I’m not quite over the learning hump with the new phone. I’m figuring out that some of the pictures I took with the new phone are on a super small setting and are blurring a little when I make them larger. Sorry, it’s not your eyes, it’s the pictures.

Here are pieces ready to be Weatherwashed for two trays, a centerpiece box, a wine tote and a beer tote.

Below is one of the many display ideas I tried in a tray photo shoot.

Here is the centerpiece box. I have battery operated pillar candles that I can picture in there with seasonal additions.

I also built a Shanty-2-Chic inspired wine rack. I used the Weatherwash Pined and Clear Maintenance Oil (I used it on the box above and the Rusted stain on the tray). I woodburned two designs, three of one and two of the the other.

Lots of pocket hole action using the Kreg jig.

Final product (with a very rare blue sky background)!

And something really, really exciting is my early Hanukkah, Christmas, Anniversary present. After a TON of research and review reading, I now own pretty RIDGID Power Tools! Still a few I want to add to the collection, but woooooooot!!!

 

 

Hobby Adventures on the Water

Many years ago, we bought the kids a kayak to go with our canoe. They went out a few times for floats, but the kayak wasn’t highly used. I usually declined going along for the opportunity to have some quiet time. Since the nest has been empty, the kayak has had even less activity.

We’ve had the neighbors’ kayak at our house for a while as Tim has used it a number of times for fishing. One morning, we decided to take both the kayaks to the lake a few minutes from our house. It was a most fantastic decision.

We went at 6:00am, because we’re morning people, and we only stayed for about an hour, but it started off our day with some much needed zen.

We went out two more times. I’m hoping we’ll go many more. No chance I’m taking the fancy camera out on the water. I was nervous about dropping the cell, but I’m glad I got a few pictures from that first morning.