My Learning Journey through Woodworking

At the beginning of the semester (seven weeks ago), we were given an assignment to complete a learning project. Basically, we could pick whatever we wanted to do (baking, photography, drawing, ect), and document our process throughout. This class was all about technology in the classroom, so as you have probably guessed, we were supposed to learn to do these things online. It did not mean you had to choose to do something online, you simply had to get information online. When we were first given this assignment, I was ecstatic! I have been wanting to do woodworking for a long time but lead a very busy life and that was always my excuse. I was “too busy” to do it and so I never did. Finally, I had the perfect opportunity to do what I had wanted to do for a while so I was going to make the most of it.

I think I learned a ton of new information and possibly bit of more than I could chew in a short period of time but I will walk you through my process.

Week One- I decided I needed to make a new table instead of my cheap $40 one we had purchased off of Kijiji. Futuristic Architecture and The Design Confidential were my sources of ideas at this point.

Week Two- I was getting super adventurous here (I am not sure why) and decided that I should build two side tables and a tv table along with my kitchen table. I must have had a few too many drinks when I made this decision!!  I found Ana White’s blog in Week Two which contained the plans for the side tables and tv table and it was one of my go-to blogs from this point forward. I went on an adventure to shop for supplies and walked out with a whopping bill. Now looking back it, that $300 that I spent is peanuts in comparison to what I would have bought all six of these pieces for.

Week Three- I was well underway in my building at this point and got a little trigger happy with the nail gun while putting my boards together. After doing this, I found this blog post on how to distress wood as I thought it may make those marks look a little more like they belong.  I also made a call out to Twitter to help me search for paint and stain and it was well worth it!

Week Four- I started to look for more and more blog posts that explained what I was looking for and while Ana White still remained at the top of my list, I found Tru Furniture also. This was my second blog post that I fell in love with and got much of my inspiration from.  When in doubt, I also found a new Facebook group called DIY Farmhouse Style that was incredibly helpful. All of the ladies answered my questions right away and were more than willing to share advice.

Week Five- I finished building both of my side tables and when I had lumbar left over, I built two bedside tables for our room as well. I had an incident with a brad nail coming through the wood but this forum was so helpful in figuring out why and how to stop it from happening.

 

Week 6- In week six, I was starting to reflect on the work that I had done to this point and was feeling pretty confident. As a farm wife and a woman, I was proud to have completed and succeeded with these “blue jobs”. I realized that the internet is a brilliant place to gather valuable information and I learned that building is a TON of work but totally worth it.  This week I learned the purpose of pre-drilling holes, how to clamp wood together when it tried to separate and resorted to another one of Ana White’s videos to learn how to put together my table. My table was now complete and so were all of my other pieces. All that was left was painting and staining!

Week Seven- After being sick and tired of waiting for the weather to be perfect, I moved my workstation inside.

I made a time lapse video for the first time ever (new technology is always cool when it works)!! And I learned all about dry brushing and staining. I also learned what gel stain is and that it is not wrecked when it looks like this!

It has been a busy few weeks. My pieces all look great so far but I definitely bit off more than I can chew! I am hoping to have them all done by the weekend. Three out of six is not the best number but as you can see, it is a lot of work.  Some key takeaways out of this project have been:

-There are always ways to fix mistakes

-The internet is a marvelous source of information (for free)!

-Woodworking is a ton of work but to look at the pieces and know that you made them, it is so rewarding.

-It is (in this case) way cheaper to make items like this than to buy them. We already had all of the tools we needed so all that I bought was lumber, stain, paint, and sanding papers. Overall we got over $1800 worth of items I am sure and only spent $300

-Women can do “men’s jobs” too!

                                                                 Before!

 

 After!

 

         Completed Bed Side Tables 

 

Soon to be finished side tables and TV Tables.

 

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And the Winner is…

Well I don’t really know if it is a “winner” per say, but we are finally at our last and final step.. Staining!

I have only stained something once and I had to do it twice. The first time I choose a super light stain and did not know what I was doing so I never wiped it off and then it ended up being super greasy and not what I wanted. So I sanded it all down and then chose another stain and that turned out pretty good but that was so long ago, I couldn’t remember what I had done.

So, in searching for some information on how to stain my tables, I found a couple of good Youtube videos.  I find when I like something, I stick to it. So the two really good bloggers that I have found and stayed true to are Ana White and Tru Furniture.  I found this Youtube tutorial from Tru Furniture and it really helped explain things. I did do mine a little bit differently as I had painted the bottom of my tables but the top was pretty similar. I had already filled my holes with paintable wood filler so I did not do that portion of this video as she shows.

First I taped my tables so that I did not get any stain on the parts that were already painted. After I was done doing that, I opened up my stain and just about closed it for the day. I had no idea what the hell was going on. As I said, I have only stained once or twice so I had no idea that there were different kinds of stain. This (I now know) is called gel stain!!

So after I figured this out, I stirred the stain and got things going. I put on one coat and was crossing my fingers that it would work!! To put the coat of stain on, I simply dipped an old rag into the stain and then wiped it off. By the time I was staining the whole table, I went back and wiped off any excess that was able to come off. I made sure I wore gloves so that my hands were not covered in stain but I realized that staining actually is pretty simple.

It was pretty light so I decided to put on another coat and I think it turned out pretty good!

Now all that’s left to do is just put on a top coat and decide what I want to do with these table legs. I am trying to decide if I should leave it gray, paint it white, or do a distressed look like my small tables.

Image may contain: indoor

Image may contain: indoor

Let me know what you think!

The Dry-Brush Technique

I really didn’t quite think this project through when I was planning to do so many pieces! I got super excited when I wrote my last blog post and clearly stated that all I had left to do was “just staining and painting”. What was I thinking?! I am only half way done painting three pieces and I am already going crazy. It’s so much more difficult and tedious than the actual wood working and takes so much more time. I was originally working outside so I was trying to wait for it to either a) not be so darn windy or b) not be too hot or c) not be raining. After nearly two weeks of waiting, I figured I had to get a move on things so I made my living room and kitchen into a work room.

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I painted one coat of grey on all of the pieces as I knew I wanted that for my base coat. In most of my research, any chalk paint was the go-to for their choice of paint but for those of you who don’t know- it’s soo expensive! So I ended up using the Rona’s ricochet grey colour. After that dried, I attempted to dry-brush on the white. I had no idea what I was doing so I just used YouTube show to get the “rustic look” on furniture and found this incredibly helpful video.

Heidi was so great at really breaking it down for a first-timer and explaining exactly what steps to take. She also went into detail about what to do if you made a mistake which made me feel a whole lot better because I was almost positive that I would make at least one mistake. I put her tips to use and came up with this project.

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I can honestly say this has been the most difficult step yet. I think I may need one more quote but I am going to wait until morning to see it in the day light. I can’t wait to get to the staining and see the final project. Three are half way done, three more to go!

What I Have Been Working Up Too!!

 

I did it, I finally did it!! I was finally able to complete what I set out to do in the first place. Well not really quite yet but we are pretty darn close! All I have to do now is stain and paint all of these suckers!

As a farmer, I was incredibly excited when I woke up this morning to drops of rain hitting my roof and puddles on the road. We have been a little worried lately so now our prayers have finally been answered and WE HAVE RAIN!! But unfortunately that kind of puts my learning project on hold as I need it to be dry outside in order to finish all of these. The good thing is that that is all I have left to do and then I actually am done! In all reality, it’s probably a great thing. After all of this building and intensive therapy I have been going through, my hand is incredibly sore. For those of you that don’t know, I broke my metacarpal 4 and 5 bones in my hand almost three months ago now and I still can’t bend my fingers at my nuckles at all so that’s been a challenge, especially completing this learning project!

I can say that I have learned a few things about myself in this process: One-I am 100% capable of doing those “blue jobs”, even with a hand that doesn’t cooperate very well. Two-The internet is a great place to get incredible FREE information.  Three- Building furniture is a ton of work but totally worth it. It fees good to look at those pieces and know I built them. By doing it this way, I also saved a ton of money. I spent about $350 on all of my materials including paint, stain, sanding parts, etc but when looking on Kijiji for comparable items, I think they are probably valued between $1500- $1800. What?!! Who knew by putting in a little blood, sweat and tears, you could save that much money?!

So to fill you in on what I did..  because I know you’re dying to find out (at least pretend you are so you don’t hurt my feelings)!

I first built a frame on the ground (I don’t have a picture of this part but imagine it without the four legs). I put four boards to make the outside and then added the other five pieces that you see for bracing. The purpose of this was to glue the top boards to and create stability. After I was done that portion, I added the four legs by Pre-drilling holes.  I added six holes for each leg because I wanted to make sure these wouldn’t come out.

After I finished that, I add my base ready to go for glue. Ana White’s Blog (YouTube Video version) states that a person should use wood glue but I knew from my husband that PL400 is nearly the same as wood glue but just a stronger adhesive so that’s what I used. I glued one end board on first so that I could align the rest of the boards against that first one. After I was confident that the first one was good and sturdy, I started to glue the rest of the race boards for the table. I glued the other four boards down making sure to align them with the first board and make sure they were square. I thought I was doing so good and then this happened…

S**t!! Then I was starting to get a little worried. Not only did I have a gap between boards, the last board was so curved that I could not get it to get anywhere near level with the rest. I found this video on how to clamp wood and low and behold I found this handy tool in all of our random stuff. Thank goodness because all I did was clamped it as tight as I could until the wood completely dry and until I could get screws in and it completely saved my table! After I was done glueing, I waited a few minutes and then flipped it over to put small screws in the other side so that they wouldn’t show through and secure the boards in place.

All I did after this was use a belt sander  to smooth out the entire table and make it completely flat. This took forever!! The reason that I used the belt sander instead of the palm sander is because it’s much larger so it took less time and created a more even table instead of having a bunch of bumps with the palm sander.

That was it! After looking at all of my projects I have completed over the last few weeks, this one is definitely the easiest which is funny because it had me the most scared!

I’ll be looking for tips on painting and sanding until I get a day to do it! If you have any tips, feel free to send them my way!

 

It’s a Never Ending Project

A glimpse of my new progress was shown in my last blog post but I am so excited to report I have finished two more tables!! These ones were a bit tricky compared to the TV table as the X’s were smaller. BUT once I had one X nailed down and figured out, the other three came with hardly any effort at all. Well, they did require effort but they didn’t hurt my brain nearly as much!!

These tables started a lot like my TV table, with my dear best friend, the palm sander (sarcasm implied)!! This job of sanding seems to never end.  After I finished sanding down the boards, I built these frames. This is what would soon become my base for the table.  This was relatively easy. I simply measured how wide I wanted the top of the table and subtracted two inches (one inch of overhang on each side). After I finished my first brace, I repeated these steps three more times (for two tables).

I measured and cut my top board to the proper size started to nail these braces to the bottom board. In order to figure out measurements for this bottom board, I took my top board measurement, minus one inch on every side, minus the size of the braces that I would add.

After adding both of the braces, I added the small boards the other way to brace the two braces that were already there and create a space to put my X’s and a flat surface to nail the top board too. In all of my reading and researching on how to build these tables in the blogs/ Facebook groups that I have recently mentioned,  I never read about this problem:

Yes, that is a brad nail coming through the board!!  I thought maybe I wasn’t holding the gun properly or something but I tried my hardest to make sure it was straight and aligned properly and it still ended up happening three times!! I could not figure it out until I asked my handy husband when I got home and realized that if there is a knot in the wood and the nail hits it, it will pop up like this. He actually told me that if it hits the knot hard enough, it will fly right out of the wood! Sometimes I think my husband says things just to make me feel better so after he told me this, I did my own research and found this forum saying the exact same thing!  Who would have known that? I ended up getting a little gun shy after learning that because I really don’t want a brad nail in my eye!

So after I got over my fear, I finished nailing these bad boys together and came up with these…  Not to brag or anything but I think they look pretty darn good!

So.. At the end of all of this I ended up having this pile of wood left and I just couldn’t waste it so I have started on my next project, two bedside tables and a kitchen table are yet to come.. So stay tuned!

So 

The World is at Our Fingertips!

I have been working away at my tables over the last few days and although it is hard work, it is already so rewarding. I am so excited to know that I am building something exactly as I want it, by myself and saving money at the same time!

Throughout all of the browsing I have done online to learn what to do, Ana White’s article definitely has one of the best build plans.  In order to make what I had work and not lose my mind with tedious processes, I changed a few of the steps and materials. For instance, I used two 1′ boards instead of 2×4″s for the top.

I also am not very good at angles (the truth comes out that I didn’t really listen in grade twelve math). So instead of trying to measure the angles for my X’s to the exact degree, I just positioned the board in place and marked where I had to cut.

Another awesome video that I found is this one by Tru Furniture.  If you look at the description of her video, she also got her plans and ideas from Ana White and then just altered it to fit her specs.  I love this video because it explains and shows in detail the steps she took.  I also found I could watch it as many times as needed to get a true visual of the steps to take.  Who really get’s things right on their first try every time? Not I!

The last really great resource that I found super helpful this week was the Facebook group  DIY Farmhouse Style .  I had posted about paint/stain colors on my Twitter account last week and I got some pretty good suggestions but I could have not found any amazing feeds on Twitter yet specifically about building furniture. When I asked a question in the Farmhouse group on Facebook, I immediately (within five minutes) had three people answer me with what they would suggest doing.  Although sometimes I say that I am fearful of technology, this truly is one of the best parts! Knowing that there are people able to answer you within minutes is like a treasure chest!

Now that I have completed my side tables, I will show you what that consisted of with another blog post this week! I also had extra wood left, which means I am going to make some side tables for my bed! YAY!! That means no more putting my water bottle and phone beside my bed at night.

A Woman Can Build Too!

As a farmer and a woman, I like to believe I am tough. My husband used to work in the oilfield and was gone for weeks on end and now during seeding and harvest and spraying (so pretty much April-October) he is almost always in the field. Because of that, I have acquired an array of skills that allow me to take care of everything when he is gone. Now, I normally think there are some things that just women should do and some that just men should do but when I chose this project I said “Screw it”, why can’t I do this?

So I have been searching and searching, as you can see on my last post, for different blogs about what to do and how to do it. I think I got a pretty good start! I started by sanding the boards down. Some of them that we used were old so I needed to sand them down in order to paint them later.

I sanded and sanded until they looked like the other boards and then figured out how large I wanted the TV table.  I laid out the boards so that I could get a visual of how they needed cut and then measured out where I would put the boards and so that I know where my frame would be. For the TV table, I simply matched one side to another and then built up from there.

I then used these bad boys to get them. The red one is a skill saw that is used for “ripping” the board or cutting them down the long way.  The blue one is a sliding miter saw and is used for one direct cut (either at 90degrees or at an angle).

I did not get a picture of some of the middle steps as it was a little tricky but I stood up both side frames and then nailed three boards in the middle. The middle and bottom one I ripped to make smaller so that it would fit in between my frames. The top one I measured so that there was an inch overhang all the way around and then nailed the braces to that area of the board after marking it.

My TV stand was a little bit wobbly so I made this X on both sides, partially for decoration and partially for a brace.  This was pretty tricky! My husband is very handy for things like this, we, or he, built our house from lock up stage. I mostly painted and he did all of this type of work. I had not used math to figure out angles since Math 30 in high school so that was a lot of trial and error.  After I finally got the angles figured out I used the nail gun to nail in the X’s and I was pretty proud of how my piece was starting to look.

I realized after all of my work, that the top of the three shelves and the front of the stand had quite a few nail marks.  After reading more on how to distress wood to get the rustic look I am after, I realized those marks may not be so bad after all! I can actually use those and add more screw marks along the way to make it have the look I want.

By now, my hand was starting to really hurt and a storm was starting to roll in so I figured it was time to quit! I decided to go to the city and search for stain and paint to finish the TV stand, as that is pretty much all that is left, and that was a whole battle of it’s own!

Until next time, hopefully this will keep you entertained!

 

The Process is Slow!

I have been really researching on how to build a sturdy table that will last over the last week. I had found a couple of resources that I mentioned in my last blog post but while really searching over the last two days, I have slightly changed my project.   I decided I didn’t want to start with a table first as that will be a huge piece that people will see all of the time. I will still get to it, don’t you worry! However, first I am going to attempt a TV table and then a couple of side tables seen on this blog post by Ana White. I figure  by the time I am done those, I will have all of my kinks worked out and be able to perfect my kitchen table!

After deciding all of this, I went shopping for lumbar. This was what I was feeling when I got into the store..

This was a little bit more difficult now that I am building four different pieces as I had to estimate how many boards I will use for each, visualize what I am making and account for cutoffs and any mistakes to be made (I know there will be I few)! I also had to make sure I had screws, brad nails (that will fit my gun), finishing nails, PL 400 (like wood glue x100), and wood filler. I will also need foot foams, stain, white paint and brushes but that is after I build so I didn’t get those today.

My husband made me do all the work as he said it’s good exercise for my hand (I broke it and it just came out of a cast three weeks ago). It beg’s to differ right now but hopefully by later tonight I will be ready to start building! Until then, my hand will be in an ice bath to try and get ready!

It’s All in the Process

Well, I hope it’s all in the process at least as I am a little nervous about what my final product will look like. Watch this video to see what I am up to!

I am looking forward to learning how to build this and hopefully having a beautiful piece to showcase when I am done.

My mission tomorrow is to buy my first load of lumber but I have been looking on You-Tube and Pinterest to spark inspiration before I begin. Two really good blogs that I have been reading to learn how to attempt this are The Design Confidential and Futurist Architecture .

Keep posted to see what I come up with!