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.

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.

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.

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!

Shop/Garage

Well, the weather today is ugly. It’s 40 degrees and rain rain rainy. We actually had a few days of dry weather and I was enjoying the respite from MUD season and not having to wipe Fargo’s paws.

I was even able to start on replacing the rotted wooden raised bed border I tore out last Fall.

But now it’s raining and muddy and cold and it will stay this way for the next few days. Sigh. I was able to get about an hour of sanding done early, before it began. I have a new build in the works, yay for that!

It’s been pretty much GARAGE GARAGE GARAGE/SHOP around here. We insulated the ceiling, walls and garage door. We not only put up drywall, but we did mudding, taping, sanding, priming and painting. Tim had to re-do the old drywall mud/tape, which was crumbling and falling off.

That was a chore! We had to constantly shift all of our crap around to be able to access walls and ceiling, etc.


Tim hung a heater from the ceiling, which works amazingly well (our electric bill is going to be terrible since we had to run it 24/7 for the dry wall mud to set). AND...we even put up trim. Granted, it is construction grade 1x3s, unsanded and wonky in spots, but trim nonetheless.

Let’s go back to reflect on where we began with this project (when the car fit).

car garage

Worth an additional mention, that this was a huge project! I really can’t thank Tim enough for the hours and hours he put into making the garage a shop,where I can be comfortable while woodworking/building. Hopefully, he’ll be more comfortable while working on his projects too.

Here is more where we’re at now, moving everything to where it belongs…until we change our minds. It is so so much brighter!!

Fargo continued to be a motivational supervisor.

The next stressful step is figuring out the best way to organize the “shop.” As you know, the workbench and the saw and the drill press are all on wheels. I want to make good use of the wall space with the idea that the mobile units can be rolled away to the center of the shop or to the driveway. I have so many saved links and images to organizational ideas, it’s pretty ridiculous. Wish us luck!

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.

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.

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!

A Smattering of Stuff

Quick unrelated note: It seems that my pictures are appearing sideways on some platforms. I am working to fix it and in the meantime, I apologize.

Hello! Hoping 2019 is treating you well so far. Due to weather and the ongoing garage insulation project, I’ve been working on a smattering of stuff. It’s all good, and I am getting some small things done, but I know what my next project will be and I’m super anxious to get started on it. I definitely need Mother Nature to cooperate a bit more.

I’m trying to expand the food repertoire a little and cooked a new recipe from Pinch of Yum, Vegetarian Swedish Meatballs. It was amazing. I loved it and ate way too much, and wanted there to be way more leftovers than there were. Somehow I didn’t end up with as much sauce as I think I should have, so will make more next time.

Did I mention that I LOVED THIS DISH?!?!?

An exciting shop related item is that I bought a random orbital sander. I opted for corded vs adding to my cordless collection for two reasons. When I picked up the RIDGID cordless sander, it was heavy. Once I added the battery, it would have been WAY heavy. I didn’t think I would be able to manage it for an extended period of time. Once I made that decision, I tried the grips of the corded sanders. I have pretty small hands, so it matters. I chose the DEWALT because the grip was the best and they have a great reputation.

I follow Gator Finishing on Instagram and really enjoy their feed, so decided to support them with my first sandpaper disc purchase.

Since we built the lumber storage rack, it has been used as a quick repository. We’ve tossed many (mostly smaller) pieces of wood in there along the way, and the disorganization shows. I decided to use some of the wicked weather condition time to try to inventory and organize the cart. I did a post on Instagram asking any woodworkers out there how specific they were with inventory, but only received a few responses.

After I pulled all of the smaller pieces out, I actually measured and logged most of them. Maybe that’s weird. I did figure out that I have a bunch of the wood for my next bigger build already, which is fun.

Two final items. Our headboard, and part of Tim, were featured in a Weatherwash ad. I was ridiculously excited.

And last, I’ve been taking part in the Yoga With Adriene 30 Day Dedicate program. It was a recommendation from the youngest, and randomly echoed by a few other friends. I have really enjoyed it, more than I ever would have thought. Fargo has been doing way better than me in his stretching and relaxation though.