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.

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!

Sofa/Console Table: Part I

As I type, the crazy winter winds are blowing and pairing up with the crazy polar vortex temperatures. I’m very grateful to be indoors right now, working on a blog post (assuming we don’t lose power). I’m also working on a blog post because the weather conditions are preventing me from working on my current project…a sofa/console table.

I’m still using construction grade lumber “soft” woods, with edges in the slightly rounded condition in which they come. I do this partly because I can with these types of builds, but mostly because I like the rustic look it provides. As my skills improve, I plan to try working with more hard wood varieties, especially if I can find local sources for reclaimed lumber.

The table I’m building is mostly based off of this Shanty-2-Chic plan. The place I’m diverging from the plan is the table top. I was able to get the pieces for the main structure cut and first round sanded last week. Here is what it looks like so far.

Fargo, as always, watching, and inspecting the work.

After watching a bunch of tutorial videos, including this one from Eternal Harvest Decor, I decided I wanted to attempt a herringbone table top. As an aside, I follow Brandi, of Eternal Harvest Decor, on Instagram and she is a talented woodworker and a hoot. Luckily, I was able to use the driveway workshop on Monday and started cutting the 1x3s for the top.

It took me a few minutes to really get the hang of how the pieces of wood were going to be laid out. I’m really excited now that I have this started (imagine the 13.5″ x 51″ plywood underneath is cut out). I had to stop due to frozen fingers and toes, but you can get the idea.

I’m really proud of myself because I used the circular saw, by myself, and cut the plywood. I even did a freaking good job! I know it’s not as powerful as the corded circular saw we have, but this Ridgid cordless saw is so much quieter (i.e. less scary) and it cut super smoothly.

I’m planning to try a different Weatherwash aging stain on the table, it’s called Oaked. I’ve done some test pieces and I like it with the Clear Oil I’ve used on all of the other builds, and with the White Maintenance Oil which is also new to me.

Okay, now to the non-woodworking part of the post. I’ve stuck with the 30 Day Dedicate Yoga with Adriene program, completing Day 29 today. I really enjoy the 20 minutes (=/-) each day, as does Fargo, who tries to steal my mat. How am I supposed to argue with that face?!?

I do chuckle some mornings when Adriene is wearing a tank top, and I am trying to decide what is the perfect number of layers to have on.

In addition, we’ve continued to have some lovely Winter scenes, as long as one is indoors, that I’ve tried to capture.

I’m hoping to finish building the table this weekend, as we’re supposed to have more “normal” Winter conditions by then. I will jump for joy if it turns out like I have it pictured in my head, or at least reasonably close. Also, we were able to squeeze a trip for drywall in between snow showers on Sunday, so putting that up is on the weekend agenda. Then, I can’t wait to figure out what will be next!

Programming note: My wonderful cousin made some adjustments to try and prevent pictures from appearing sideways on phones/tablets. They appear correct on the computer, which confuses things. I don’t seem to be able to go back and fix pictures in the old posts, but as I’m about to hit “publish” I’m hopeful everything will be facing the right way.

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.

Fiery January Sunset

Yesterday, I was upstairs in my bedroom putting laundry away, and I happened to glance out the window. The colors I saw literally made an “oooooooo” come out of my mouth. I ran downstairs for the fancy camera and took a few pictures.

A few minutes later, I looked out the kitchen window, and snapped this one with the cell phone.

I kept going back outside to take pictures because it just continued to be amazing. Each time I thought it would be the last of the amazingness, so didn’t go back to the fancy camera, just grabbed the cell each time.

As much as I love how these pictures came out, we all know that pictures can never do justice to the in-person colors. I’m so glad I caught the start and was able to watch this sunset!

 

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.

Nightstand Love

As I mentioned in a prior post, I built two nightstands. I built them mostly by myself, once Tim helped me get started.I am really proud of myself and I learned a lot through these builds. I used Ana White’s Mini Farmhouse Bedside Table plan with some modifications.

Some of this is repeat from the previous nightstand post, so feel free to skip if you read that one. I used 1×6 tongue and groove for the tops because this is what we used on the headboard and I wanted it to match. We used 1×8 tongue and groove, smooth side up, for the bottom shelves. If you viewed the original plan, you would see that there was a board set in between the horizontal supports. I just didn’t think that it would match the look I wanted. I probably could have used the jig saw on the originally called for shelf boards to set them on top of the horizontal supports, like I did with the the tongue and groove, but I’m really happy with it this way.

I used the same Weatherwash PINED stain, Clear Maintenance Oil, and Flat Varnish that I used on the bed frame. The color is beautiful. The second one came out richer/darker, which could be from using a new can of stain, or variations in the wood we purchased. I love them both!

Here are some finished pictures I took with the fancy camera.

The only thing I’m pondering about doing differently with my next build, is staining before assembling. Even having a tiny brush nearby didn’t make me feel like I could get stain into all of the joint areas. This may be because not all of my joints are dead on. So, assuming I improve in that area, it wouldn’t be an issue in the future. I think I’ll try it anyway.

 

Insulating the Shop…I Mean, the Garage…(with bonus ice storm pics)

We’re doing it! We’re really doing it!! Besides being darn close to breaking the record for wettest year ever, Mother Nature pretty much skipped Fall and went right to Winter. It’s been way too cold to do much work in the shop (we’ll just go with “shop” even though it’s really a garage, okay?). After much research, and thanks to Tim’s support, we are hoping that adding insulation will provide more uses/opportunities for the shop space.

In all honesty, the biggest hurdle for this whole project is the overwhelming amount of crap we have stored out there. It’s just been the repository for the “I don’t know where else to put this” stuff. It really is time to sort through it all anyway, but wowza, it’s a big job. There’s not just stuff on the ground around the perimeter, but on shelves on the walls, on shelving units, and on random nails everywhere.

We already replaced the side door (in picture above) a few weeks ago, because that had been on the list even before the insulation decision. At this point, we’re not investing in a new garage door, so we’ll add insulation to the existing door. You can also see above, that there is already drywall on the ceiling. On the plus side, less drywall to worry about, on the minus side, we need to crawl up above it and add insulation from the top. It’s not a big space to move around in.

It took a few hours, but we cleared off about 15 feet of wall, got a few rolls of insulation and got started.

Once again, I was ridiculously excited that I was doing this myself. Tim helped later after he got a few more things on his list done, but I jumped right in solo. It took way less time to put the insulation up than it did to clear the wall space.

As soon as weather and time permit, we’ll get wall board for this section and put up shelves. The plan is to organize as we move stuff over and then work on opening up the next section. We have another third of this wall, the back wall, around the garage door, and the ceiling to go. Tim uses the garage space for a lot of projects as well. I really think we’ll both benefit from this undertaking, with the added bonus of cleaning out more stuff we forgot we had and don’t need.

I have a random add on to this post. Last Saturday, we had a freezing rain event and I was able to get a few pretty cool shots with the fancy camera.

Very glad we were home and indoors for this weather. It’s super pretty to look at…from inside the house.

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!!!