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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,
I took a wood and metal shop class when I was in junior high and still have the project I made all those years ago. It has sat on my dresser for 25 years reminding me that I enjoyed making it and wanted to learn more someday.

Well, that someday came. It began last year when I finally decided it was time. I knew next to nothing, and still know barely more than nothing! I bought about $200 worth of used Craigslist tools per month, until I had a table saw, router, radial arm saw (it was $20, lol) drill press, jointer, and a planer, palm sander, jigsaw, and a corded drill. I recently added in a good used bandsaw that I don't know how I lived without for so long.

After I bought all of this stuff and stared at it for a couple of months, I was still too scared to use it. Not scared of injury, but scared of failure, and scared of screwing up really expensive wood. This fear held me back for several months.

During that time, I started reading these forums and watching a whole lot of videos on Youtube. Then one day, I finally decided that I was tired of watching and being scared, and that was the day I began. I did a lot of learning about wood, so I understood pricing in linear feet versus board feet and all that, and I still couldn't get over my fear of screwing up expensive wood. So I found my next solution...

I decided for my first few projects, I would use construction grade lumber from box stores, or free wood that I could get off of Craigslist. This way, if I made a mistake, worse case scenario I was out about $2.00. It was a great decision that I'm glad I made. I challenged myself though, so that my finished pieces didn't look like construction grade lumber. My jointer and planer got lots and lots of work, but I slowly started finishing a few pieces and accomplished my goals so far.

So far, I have built a bedside cabinet, shoe storage rack, shelves, an outdoor bench, and a farmhouse table with benches. Everything has been with construction grade or free lumber.

I'm now at the point where I have enough confidence to start using some better wood. I am planning a rolling cabinet unit with a removable butcher block cutting board top for a friend who likes to grill outside and has an awkward hole between his stove and fridge in his kitchen. I want the cabinet to fill that hole and be useable and beautiful indoors, but rugged and ready to roll outdoors next to his BBQ grill and look manly.

I'm happy to be here, I've learned a lot from you all already. Also, I don't have any real life friends who do woodworking at all. If you're in the Los Angeles area, I'd be interested in meeting up someday to tackle a project together.
 

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Welcome aboard from another relative newbie! I worked with my Dad building houses, so I am ok in that area; but I didn't really get a shop set up until maybe 4 years ago. Now I am having a ball making everything from cradles to quilt racks, to clocks. Keep at it, never say no to constructive criticism, be safe, and above all, stay safe. Oh yeah, when you begin working with exotics, wear a mask and be watchful....the oils in them can disagree with folks...
 

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Welcome from Pa keep working at those pieces, I have made many things out of inexpensive lumber and still do at times. Take your time and measure 3 or 4 times before you think about cutting, the project is not a race. Most of all have fun and relax
 

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Welcome! I'm very similar to you it sounds like - spent years snagging tools from Craigslist, am finally putting it to good use. Take lots of pictures as you go :icon_smile:
 

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Welcome Aboard
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Welcome, and post some pics of your work.
OK, but I'm having camera and internet issues at the moment. This is the best I can do. I want to post pictures of the joints but I don't have that ability at the moment.

So I knew I wanted a rustic style dining table. I had been looking at furniture shops and saw price tags of $2,000-$4,500 for what I wanted. I decided to spend half that amount buying the tools and wood and building it myself.

I started reading forums and googling stuff and I came across this chic blog http://ana-white.com/2012/11/plans/farmhouse-table-updated-pocket-hole-plans I'm not sure if linking is allowed, just google ana white farmhouse table if it's not . It was pretty much what I wanted, but I had a few concerns about it. Concern #1 was would it wobble? Concern #2 was, would the screws eventually pull out? Concern #3 was where do the people sitting at the heads of the table put their feet if that cross rail is in their way?

So I decided to be cautious and build it mostly following the plans, but instead of a table, I built it as a bench, I just scaled the sizes down. Also, I bought one of those pocket hole jigs to fit the top boards together. I made lots and lots of mistakes as I went along, and when I finished making mistakes, I made a few more mistakes for good measure. Here's what I ended up with:


FirstBench.jpg

I wasn't too happy with it. I have the legs all backwards and it wobbled under my weight. I had to add in the triangular braces for support, and then I threw it on the front porch. Not a complete failure because I learned so much, but not what I was trying to create.

I decided that I didn't like the screws. I didn't like the way they looked, and they also weren't stable enough in the final project. So I spent some more time on google and I decided to use tongue and groove joints for the table's top and use joinery for the legs where everything comes together. I also decided to go with a 2x12 for the breadboard ends to address the issue of leg room for the head of the table seat. By this time, I had completely thrown out that Ana White lady's plans and was just thinking, measuring, and cutting.

I don't have close ups of the joints today, they're not that pretty, but they are functional and tight. This project took me 4 months to complete. I'm going through a divorce and every time the situation inside the house got too painful I'd go outside to my shop and work on my table. Haha, but I wrote the table in as mine with a $200 value in the divorce paperwork when it was still raw materials. I'm not sure if it's still worth $200, some may say less, I think more.

Here it is about 10 minutes after I brought it inside the house:

MyTable.jpg

I love it. It's exactly what I wanted. The benches are made using the exact same process except they don't have runners. The joinery is all the same though, I was able to do all the joints for the table and benches without adjusting the settings on my tools.

I'm really glad that I decided to go for the rustic/aged look because there are so many imperfections in it but this way they add to instead of take away from the final project. I let my 6 year old twins go crazy on it with a hammer and an axe before I finished it. They enjoy finding the blemishes that they added and can point them out with pride!

To finish it I used vinegar and steel wool, but it turned black. I then sanded the black half off and used weathered oak and special walnut stains on top of it. It all combines to give a lot of variation in the finish. The table top is mostly smooth, but this was my first time ever using a hand plane, so those oops marks add to the aged character now and I can tell people that I meant to do that!

Here's the table the next morning after breakfast. There's still homework, cereal bowls, and one of the twins favorite stuffed animal who really "wanted to be in the picture", or so I was told. I think the kids approve.

Thanks for looking

TableTheNextMorning.jpg
 
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