Well, Christmas season has come and gone and in its wake… Christmas cash. Seems I’m hard to shop for so every year I either get gift cards or cash and at least one shirt that may not may not fit. This year I decided to do something constructive with my Christmas cash. So I constructed two work desks/ book shelves.
Over the last few months I’ve amassed something like 35 books from the used book store and my shelves runith over so they’ve been piling up on the dresser and it was starting to get in the way so I decided to undertake my first (of many, I hope) construction projects.
So gather round children while I tell you the tale of the wibbly wobbly desky wesky thing. Subtitled How I Got Wood. Subtitled How Not to Build a Table….
It started as many construction projects do with a trip to the hardware store. The Automatic door slides open and I am greeted by three smiling faces. One of them steps forward with a slightly too big smile and says “Can I help you find anything today, sir?”
I muster up my manliest man voice and say “Yes, I need some shelving board.”
“Right this way, sir.” He replies
I called it shelving board. He totally thinks I know what I’m talking about! This is gonna be great!
We arrive at the shelving board and he points me to a 1×12 board that is 8 feet long.
“Uh, I’m pretty sure that isn’t gonna fit in my car… is there any way you can cut it in half for me?”
“Oh! Yes sir, we can do that for you it’ll only take a minute!”
I may have lost some street cred with that one… but no matter. I leave the hardware store boards in tow. Once I get home I gather all my supplies together, the boards I just purchased along with some reclaimed wood I planned to use, after a quick count I realized that I would probably come up short unless I did everything perfectly which is highly unlikely. Also, the screws I had on hand were not long enough. So. Back to the hardware store I go! It turns out the measurements I took were not a standard size so after miming the piece I needed the salesman gave me the I know that you have no idea what you’re doing look and took me straight to piece I needed.
I return home with enough wood and screws that are long enough. Now! Time to start cutting them down to size! This is the dangerous part kids. This is the part were Norm Abram reminds you to wear you safety glasses.
My plan is to make a 32 inch tall desk that is 16 inches wide and 4 feet long. I will also make a second desk that is 32 inches tall 16 inched wide and 2 feet long. Underneath the desk will be two shelves that run the length of the desk. One shelf roughly 14 inches higher than the other.
I’d never used a skill saw before so I decided to make some practice cuts on some scrap. After a comically long amount of time preparing myself as to not cut anything important like the power cord or you know… me… I made my first cut. As that first piece fell away I was ecstatic. I had made my first cut ever and had not injured myself in the process! Woo! Then I examined my cut. I didn’t know you could make such a crooked cut with a skill saw. No matter! There is more scrap wood. After whittling away a 6 foot piece of scrap making cuts every 3 to 4 inches I finally felt comfortable enough to start cutting good wood, though I would save the top for last. I’d bought a 6 foot long 16 inch board that I was gonna split down the middle and make shelves until I decided it would look better as a desk top.
I started by cutting my support pieces. These run between the front and back legs and the shelves will rest on them. I needed 12 pieces at 12 inches a piece. Seems easy enough. I make my measurement and then my cut. Measure Cut Measure Cut. With each cut my confidence grew. My movements became more efficient. My cuts more precise. Some of my earlier cuts weren’t EXACTLY 12 inches but close enough. After I was done cutting my support pieces I had to cut the shelving board. This only required one cut. Since I drive such a tiny car I had the guy at the hardware store cut the board down to 4 foot lengths so I only had to cut one of them in half to make to two shelves for my short desk. MATH!
The only thing left to cut was the papa board. The big one. The top…
This is it now, don’t get scared…
I measured, I backed away and looked, measured, looked, this went on for some time. Finally I just gritted my teeth and made the cut. It was perfect! Well, near perfect. Close enough, really.
Now its time to put these things together. I sort them into groups. The shelves and top don’t come into play yet so they stay in the house. I’m building this on a makeshift bench on my back patio in case you couldn’t tell. 3 supports per pair of legs. I mark out where my supports need to go. And prepare to put the screws to it. Literally. I’m going to use a screw gun to drive these screws through the wood…. Except there is one problem.
Turns out those numbers on the side of the box of screws mean something because even though these were the right length screws they were not the right shape of screws. I wanted to get a #8 screw but they were out. So I got #10. Close enough I thought. Wrong! The #10 screw has a round bottom which is only useful it seems for creating friction. So if you need to start a fire or warm you bread then go for the #10 screw. If you actually want to connect two pieces of wood together with an inclined plane wrapped helically around an axis (SCIENCE) then get a #8 or #6. SO! BACK to the hardware store!
When I walked in this time the cashier said “Back again huh” I may have mustered a smile. I managed to find some #6 screws that were longer still than the ones I had, but that’d have to work. Got back home and was actually making good uneventful progress until the battery on the drill died.Considering it was almost dark and it would take the battery a good hour to charge I packed everything away for the evening and called it a night.
The next morning after breakfast I laid everything out again and went to work. I would catch my mom watching me through the storm door.
“You need any help” Shed aske.
“Nope. I got it. It’s gonna be one crooked desk”
“Looks good from here”
“Well, don’t come any closer”
From this point on it was pretty much uneventful. Mom would check periodically and everything went together with little problems. I had to move some supports for one set of legs because it didn’t match up with its opposite.
Um… Ignore that extra whole Its for… ventilation…Sure.
One of these lines is wrong. Let that be a lesson for you kids; measure twice, cut once.
One set of legs done!
After the base was done I glued the top on and put some screws in to hold it in place.
CLAMP! You can never have to many of these! Unfortunately this is the only one I have.
It’s a desk, a little wobbly, very crooked, but it serves its purpose and it’s something I built. I did it. I set my mind to something and I accomplished it. There comes a point when you get frustrated because something isn’t working the way you want it and then you figure out why and the frustration is washed away by pride, that is one of the best feelings in the world. I became more confident and learned a lot in the process:
Use the right tool for the right job. OK Steve?
Measure twice cut once.
#10 screws are NOT just as good as #8.
1/16 of an inch is a big deal.
If you make a mistake you can try again
If there is something you want to do, do it. If you want to sing. Sing If you want to write. Write. If you want to rob a bank, you should probably not do that. It’s wrong and very illegal. You’d go to jail. There is a point where you have to stop planning and start doing. There are a lot of things I want to do in 2015, if fact that is one of the reasons why I started this blog. Something to hold me accountable. Something to track my progress. Hopefully you’ll come along the ride with me.
Now. Ima go watch Astro Boy