Builders Challenge: Part IV

Here we are, Part IV, which was delayed due to my FIRST DRESSER BUILD. I will certainly be posting about the dresser in the near future, but now we return to the Builders Challenge. A quick reminder that participants had three weeks to complete their build, and I was so stressed about that timeline that I spent quite a few early mornings and “late” (this is a relative term when bedtime is by 9 pm) evenings working on mine. Fargo (and Tim when he was around) were very supportive and kept me company.

Blooper

After completing the table top and attaching the legs, I then went on to the drawer and drawer box. I opted to use pine for the drawer box and cedar for the drawer so that when opened, the drawer would coordinate with the cedar from the table top.

I had opted not to line the side panels up with the inside of the legs, which came back to haunt me a bit at drawer time. There was enough wiggle room that the drawer could easily get hung up on the front legs as it was pulled out. I’m proud to show you my solution, which no one will ever see again unless they remove the drawer. I made drawer guides.

Next step was adding the drawer face, which I find to be a really tricky process. I’m sure I used a very unconventional method which included very short brad nails to temporarily attach and test the positioning of the face that could be removed before the final fastening with screws. I found the drawer pull at Home Depot early on, saw it and knew it was what I wanted.

The original plans did not include a lower shelf.I loved the cedar so much, I wanted to use more of it and decided a shelf would be a perfect way to do just that. The few times I’ve done shelves previously, the slats were always sitting on top of rails. In order to keep with the theme of challenging myself, I decided I wanted the slats to be flush with the rails. You can actually see a bit of the channel I made in the back rail in the picture above.

One way to make such a channel, called a rabbet, is with the table saw. I was not ready to try that. Another way, is with a router/router table. I was not ready to try that either (we have since purchased a router table and I’m building a stand). Remember the hand held router tool I used in the very beginning? I decided that was the way to go…

It was not pretty. I somehow managed to salvage that mess with lots of sanding, but when I started the next one, it was worse. At that point, I was ready to give up. I have no idea how I came up with “I’m going to do this with a hammer and chisel even though I’ve only ever used them together once before, for one minute, at the start of this build,” but I did.

This one actually turned out better than the one I did with the router tool, but also required a mega amount of sanding. It was all worth it though, when I did the test layout.

And the actual shelf install. Fargo was beside himself with excitement at my triumph.

And that is the story of my Builders Challenge experience and table build. I literally cannot wait for Season 8!!! I hope to have added at least a few new skills to my repertoire by then.

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.

Headboard Number 2

Here is the post I promised, with more details about the headboard and nightstand I built for a friend. The past two weeks I have been immersed in The Builders Challenge, which is one of the reasons this post has been delayed. I will definitely be telling you all more about it soon.

When my friend approached me about building a headboard, and then a nightstand, I was excited at the chance to expand my building experiences. She chose two Ana White build plans, so a familiar style. Each piece had new (to me) aspects and challenges. An additional challenge was maneuvering around the still not quite finished shop/garage work.

Given my positive experiences with Weatherwash, I offered that as a finishing option, and she chose Rusted. I had read that most people like two coats, and I followed that recommendation. It really came out pretty.

The Simple Bed Plan headboard had slats that needed to be evenly spaced across the span of the horizontal boards. It took me a good amount of time checking and rechecking the measurements.

The center section came out looking great and was Fargo approved!

Probably the biggest hurdle was attaching that section to the uprights. The directions said to drill sideways, from the outside, through the 4×4 posts and into the vertical pieces. Tim helped me on this part and, not only could we not get a sturdy hold, but the screws broke off in the process of tightening. I thought the headboard was toast and I was going to have to salvage what I could and start over. Tim was great and he was able to saw the screws to detach the post. All I needed to do was an additional post, the center section was fine.

Between the two of us, we came up with the idea to add an additional cross piece, underneath the center section and we used pocket holes to very solidly attach it. the center section then had something to sit on, AND, best part, it actually tied beautifully into the design.

This piece is heavy and solid and I love the grain and knots in it. My next post will focus on the nightstand, which included drawer slides to mix things up.

Backyard Birds March ’19 Edition

I’ve taken way too many pictures of the birds visiting our feeders in between working on the never ending garage project. Pretty sure I’ve seen more variety of visitors this year than in previous years. Grabbed the fancy camera multiple times the last few days and here are just a few of the (MANY) pictures I’ve snapped. Apologies to those of you on Instagram, who will have seen most of these already.

Fly Fishing Rod Tube Holder (Definitely): Part II

Well, it all fit together. It’s got a lot of “character” in the way it fit together, and in the wood itself, but it looks pretty fantastic for a first go. I’ll share the good, and the areas for improvement in this post. I probably have way too many pictures, but I’m okay with that.

As I mentioned in Part I, I used two different woods, I believe them to be pine and cherry, so we’ll assume that to be the case. I originally intended to just use more of the pine, but the cherry was too pretty to pass up once our neighbors dropped it off. All four pieces of cherry are from the same board and the board was a little more dry and wonky than I really realized until I was fairly far into the process, but just soooooo pretty.

After sanding each piece and cutting the holes with the hole saw bit, I used an ancient Dremel type tool from my mom with a round sanding bit. The hole saw, and our inexperience, left some pretty rough edges. The Dremel-ish tool did a reasonable job, especially smoothing the interior of the circles.

We have a router, and a router table, and once the garage is finished, I hope to be able to set it up and work with it. I think a router roundover on these circles might be a good plan.

I used the pine for the base, under the cherry and because I thought it would be a neat contrast in the bottom holes to hold the tubes. The cherry was too pretty for stain, so I used two coats of Weatherwash Clear Maintenance Oil to give it a little help on the dryness and bring out the grain. I then used the Weatherwash Satin Varnish to seal it. Here are some before oil and after oil pictures.

I waffle between finishing before or after assembly. I opted for before this time, and it did impact one decision we made. We pondered whether it might be a good idea to use dowels to put the pieces together, and though we concluded that the cherry was probably too thin for that, the fact that I had already oiled and varnished did come up.

First step in assembly was gluing the bottom three pieces together.

You may be able to see, on the top left of the bottom picture, that the holes do not line up exactly.This is another area I need to figure out how to make better. The hole saw was really tough to line up precisely, and it jumped when the teeth first bit into the wood. When a rod tube is in there, it doesn’t show, but I’m hoping to correct this if I make another one.

We went back and forth on how to attach the sides and the top, and ways to clamp and brace. We landed on using glue with fine thread drywall screws, and used a pilot bit to drill/countersink the screw holes. This was new for me. I was so freaking nervous that the wood would split, or that I would set the screw at an angle and it would poke out the side of a board. We took turns drilling to mediate my anxiety, and guess what? I did OK.

Tim had the brilliant idea to try and dry fit the top piece before attaching the other side, which is propped up by the box in the picture above. I say brilliant, because we did need to re-position the unattached side to facilitate a better fit for the top. Fortunately, the adjustment made all four pieces sit flush with each other on one side. We determined that this side would be the front, since the uneven edge won’t be as noticeable in the back. Another stressor in attaching the top was how much the wonky sides would need to pull in. We were ready for a pop or a crack along the way, but thankfully – silence.

My foot photo-bombed the last picture, but it gives a little size comparison, as does the picture where Fargo is inspecting our work. Don’t worry, Tim already has enough rods/tubes to fill all eight spots. I think he’s pleased with his belated holiday gift…that he helped build.

A February Day

It started with a beautiful morning, sun streaming through the trees, which I tried to capture. The birds were busy on the feeders. Fargo and Tim played in the snow as the sun began to set.

Fly Fishing Rod Tube Holder (Hopefully): Part I

Back in November, I decided that a great woodworking Hanukkah/Christmas gift for Tim, would be a fishing rod tube holder. I looked all over the internet for ideas and “how to” instructions, without much luck. I finally found someone’s blog post from 2011 that included an option I liked and some basic instructions. Here is a picture:

I bought the 2x4s, I had the 2x6s, and I had some 1×12 pieces someone gave me that I thought would work well for the bottom. In order to make this the most useful for Tim, I did ruin the surprise and talk it over with him. We decided that it would only need two rows vs three. That was the first of what would be multiple deviations from the original plan.

This build required 3″ holes, quite a few of them. I researched using a hole saw bit vs a forstner bit and the general consensus seemed to be hole saw. Besides the holes in the 2x4s, I planned to drill holes in one sheet of 1×12, then glue/nail it to a solid sheet for a sturdy bottom. I bought a hole saw bit at Ace, attached it to the drill press, and decided to try it out.

Let’s just say, using a hole saw bit is not my favorite. We have an ancient, hand-me-down drill press which gets the job done, but is not user friendly. I had used it many times with a forstner bit, but was definitely unprepared for how the hole saw bit would grab and turn the piece of wood when it touched. (I had to copy this picture from my Instagram because I lost the original when my phone imploded). After drilling the first hole, I opted to add a clamp and recruit Tim to help. It was a thick piece of wood, and none of us were happy…the drill press, the bit, me. You can see in the picture that the wood just stuck to the teeth, and it actually burned the wood in spots.

One of our good friends/neighbors heard what I was working on and thought it was a neat idea and something he might want to build as well. In talking with him and with Tim, the next alteration would be replacing the 2×4 legs with 2x2s. A few days later, our friend brought a bunch of boards from a garage clean out, all different types of wood, including one we believe to be cherry.

The next alteration in the build was to use the “cherry” (using quotes because I’m just not positive that’s what it is) board and have one flat row of four and four, to mimic the bottom. In addition, our friend said I should really have taller holes on the bottom for the tubes to sit in so that they wouldn’t slip out sideways. This led to the idea of drilling holes in another cherry piece in order to layer it over the pine board on the bottom.

After getting this board finished, the project sat for quite a while, repeatedly getting pushed to the bottom of the list. Flash forward to this past weekend, and a rare sunny day. Tim and I rolled the drill press out, and after a little trial and error, and some oil on the drill press, we were able to get a decent rhythm going.

We still had some tear out, but once the drill press lever moved more smoothly, it was less. Also, the “cherry” boards, though harder wood, aren’t as thick as the pine, which helped.

As Tim got a good look at the “cherry” wood, which is really pretty, he decided on the final alteration to this build. He wants two flat pieces of board on either side, instead of the 2x4s or the 2x2s. The board is a little wonky in spots ( you can see it a bit in the picture below), and it is on the dry side, so we’ll see how this all goes. Note the blue sky in this picture…the RARE blue sky…and Tim, prepping for more Winter weather.

Hey, if this actually works out, maybe I’ll find someone who can help me post plans for it that I can share.

Sofa/Console Table: Part III

It’s finished!!!!! I built a sofa table and it’s finished and I’m ridiculously excited about it! Tim provided support and some guidance and suggestions, but this baby was 95% me. I’ll start with a finished picture because I wouldn’t want to make you wait til the end of the post (told you I’m excited) and then back-up for some in-progress pictures.

I’m not great with decorating, but here is my first go at it. May try a few different versions of table decorations over the next few weeks.

Okay, in the last post, I had made it as far as the assembling the table top. Took advantage of a nice day between polar vortex and snow/ice storm to get moving on next steps. Trimming it down to size was interesting and super stressful. I started with the table top upside down, so I could follow the plywood, but the circular saw blade was rubbing on the plywood and the track was catching on the nail heads. This is one of the times Tim had to really talk it through to help me figure it out. THANK YOU, TIM!!

Flipped it over, marked the plywood edges on the sides of the herringbone pieces and lined up the track.

Once I was finished with the circular saw, which I’m slowly getting better at using, I cut/glued the remaining small pieces. Before I added the frame around the outside of the table top, and attached it to the base, I sanded it again and stained it first. I used the Oaked Stain from Weatherwash, and had planned to use the White Maintenance Oil, but loved the stain color so much I opted to go with the clear oil. Due to the crazy weather, and the state of the garage, I moved everything to the basement where the lighting is not optimal.

So pretty! I added the Clear Maintenance Oil, which deepened the colors. Oiled sections on the right in the picture below.

I will say, once again, that I’m not sure I understand assembly before staining. I realize it’s nice to know if it’s going to look good/correct once it’s all together, but it sure makes finishing a supreme pain. I used a teeny tiny brush to reach in between the bottom shelf slats. Pretty sure I’m going to go back to finishing all of the pieces first for the next project, even if it’s wrong.

The Shanty-2-Chic plans I followed for the base called for wheels on the bottom. Tim and I weren’t interested in wheels, so we did some internet searching and came up with an alternative. We love how these look as part of the finished piece (thank goodness).


Here is a picture from the other direction with a good view of the feet.

Well, that was probably more than you wanted to know about my first table build. Maybe it should have been a 4 part post. I learned so darn much through this process and I can’t wait to try it all out again, and to use what I’ve learned on new projects. Thanks for following along on this journey with me!

Oh, and something super fun happened when I posted on Instagram yesterday! I tagged Brandi at Eternal Harvest Decor in my comments to thank her for inspiring me to try a herringbone table top and for her youtube instructional video and she posted my table in her stories!

This is illustrative of the support I’ve seen in the Instagram woodworking community. On top of this, the amazing comments I’ve received from you all on Instagram and Facebook make me feel grateful and I appreciate it.

Sofa/Console Table: Part II

After a few days of Spring, the Winter weather has returned to Central PA. We made the most of the post-polar vortex reprieve and got much of the drywall up in the garage.I loved being able to get outside early enough that we could watch the tail end of the sunrise.

The whole back wall is now done and only a third of a sheet is left to do by the garage door.

The console/sofa table has been an experience. It will apparently take three parts to really share the experience of making it. Part II is focused on how much harder it was to get the pieces of wood lined up in the herringbone pattern than I anticipated. First, Fargo and I got the round 1 sanding done, and I didn’t even have a coat on!

Once the sanding was completed, I had some interesting hours. It was all fun and games when I was just laying the pieces of wood out to make sure I cut enough. Actually lining them up so that the centers didn’t travel off to one side of the plywood or the other was a different story.

I used clamps on two pieces in the middle. I then lined the rest of the boards in place above and below. It was so frustrating that I had to walk away for a bit and come back to it. It would definitely have been easier if I had just cut the angle on the center edges and lined them up on the middle line. This way, not only did I need to line it up even from both edges, but the tilt had to be correct as well.

Once I FINALLY got to the point where it was as centered as possible, I tightly clamped the two middle pieces in order to permanently affix them in place and use them as a guide. I actually flipped the board over, nailed those two pieces from the bottom, crossed my fingers and began the glue-up process.

As an extra measure to secure the herringbone pieces to the plywood, I nailed all of them to the board from the back. I honestly have no idea if that was a good idea, or not, but I was just too nervous they would fall off.

Now that all but the smallest pieces are attached, I’m hoping to use the circular saw today (once temps get into the 20s) to trim the herringbone pieces to the size of the plywood. I’ll then use the scraps for the remaining open spots. Hoping the circular saw and I get along well.

In between, I’m still doing yoga (and Fargo is still fighting me for the mat), and I’m still stopping to take some pictures (mostly from indoors). Had a pileated woodpecker stop by the back yard.

I’m ready to get the final sanding on the table done and start staining it. I submitted my table project to the Weatherwash Brand Ambassador program and it was accepted, which I’m pretty excited about. They sent me the Oaked Stain, White Maintenance Oil and Satin Varnish for free to use on the table in exchange for some social media postings and pictures to help with their company promotion. Given that I started using their products for the bed and nightstands and how much I love the results, it’s super cool to be working with them on the table.

Okay, wish me luck!

Winter (2019) Scenes

The weather here is really putting a damper on projects I want to work on. Between the rain, ice, snow, wind and blasts of arctic temperatures, getting any driveway workshop time is tough.

Believe me, even if it’s 20 degrees out, if it’s dry and calm, I’m out there freezing my fingers and toes off.

The garage is totally torn apart with the insulation/drywall installation, so no room to do any work in there. The rest of the drywall won’t happen until we have a dry truck bed to buy more. On the up side, insulation is 99% completed and it already feels way more tolerable, especially without the drafts.

I’m pretty pleased that I got it done, and even though it’s far from perfect, I did most of it myself.

Besides that, I’ve taken some pictures on the fancy camera that I’ll share because they show the beauty of this weather.

If you are looking at this post on a phone or tablet, you may still be seeing rotated pictures. They are all showing up correct on the computer. Bizarro.