The most-read post made during the very short heyday of this blog was about my desire to be a craftsman, and how I turned to video games to fill that desire.
In the past two years, I have had the opportunity to begin leveling up various crafting-related skills in real life. I’d like to share with you what I hope is the start of a long journey.
Woodworking: level 9
I have a dream of one day making a beautiful farmhouse-style table for my family to enjoy. So I decided to start by making a craft/school table for our kids. I would make the base out of untreated 4 x 4 Douglas Fir and the top out of 2 X 6 Yellow Pine boards (originally I planned to use a plywood top with solid wood banding around the edge, but I abandoned that idea).
In the past I’ve tended to just sketch out a few ideas on paper. I always think this should be a quick process, but it always takes way too long due to my poor drafting skills and my love of precision. For this project, I decided that I should start to learn SketchUp in order to speed up the process.
Learning SketchUp was actually a lot of fun once I found a good tutorial. And having a decent plan made the job of buying the right amount of wood and cutting the right pieces much easier.
Finishing always seems to take longer than I think it should. This was certainly the case with this project. I ended up doing two coats of water-based stain on the top since the first one raised the grain too much and had to be sanded down. And I put four coats of water-based poly to protect the top against hard use.
So, what did I learn while doing this?
- A good plan is almost half the battle.
- Soft wood is hard to chisel, especially across the grain. It just bounces.
- Use dry wood. I used fairly wet pine for the top of my table, and planing it revealed pockets of sap. It shrank about an inch and a half end-to-end, and three-quarters side to side after gluing.
- Don’t be afraid to make a mistake, and go with the flow. I miscalculated the required length of my angled supports, and ended up making them about a half-inch shorter overall. But it still turned out okay.
I still dream of the perfect farmhouse dining table for my family. I plan to do it this year, if possible. If I do, maybe I’ll finally hit level 10.