After Christmas I had an extra week off pretty much of pure personal time (i.e no commitments). I decided to use this time to do something fun and meaningful, and one that didn’t involve code. It was a hard decision honestly because I enjoy building apps and useful tools. Though I felt like if I didn’t step away for awhile and do something else I wouldn’t really feel like I was able to rest and get my bearings for the next year.
So it was decided, I was going to do something, not coding related. What to do?
We recently moved into a new apartment, and for my office I was using fold out card table as my primary workstation. I knew it wasn’t ideal and I had been searching for a table for some time for this room. The problem was that I couldn’t find any tables that fit my criteria:
- Small to Medium Size
- All Wood
- Light Wooden Finish
- Under $200
Most of what I could find were in the $500+ range, and was either to small to share with 2 people or to big, more like a dinning table. Then the thought hit me, “Why not just build a table yourself?”, perfect idea! Except for the fact I’ve never build any furniture in my life… Sounds great to me!
In order to make sure this table would actually get done and look good, I needed to make sure it was simple to build, but still looked great. After a little searching I found set of table and chair plans that looked promising.
It had a nice rustic feel, didn’t look too complicated and was made completely out of 2×4’s. Done.
As I started to plan how to build this thing, I quickly realized that I had almost no tools needed to build it. I had some basic tools (hand screwdriver, hammer, measuring tape etc…) but nothing to cut the wood, or to screw it together. So I called up a good friend that I could remember had power tools; Success! he had a table saw and power screwdriver, the main things needed to pull this thing together.
After some light planning and a trip to Home Depot we were in business. With help of my friend we were cutting wood in no time. By the end of the first day we had measured and cut all the wood necessary for 1 table and 2 chairs. Now the fun part, putting it all together.
For the building phase I was on my own, and I noticed as began building, doing this by my self was tough. I had no real workbench, I was pretty much sprawled out in the room putting it together. I needed hold things so for the wood glue and for me to screw things together, I decided to head back to home depot for a c-clamp. The c-clamp I have to say was by far the most useful in building this table, It was so handy being able to things together as I screwed into.
I decided to take a different route than the directions though and ended up using screws for everything. For some of the joints this was problematic as I had to use crazy long screws to drill through the 4 inches of wood to secure the joint. They recommended using a handy tool called a kreg jig for the joints but I decided to be a little cheap as they cost about 100$ and my budget was $200 for everything. In the future I will probably pick one of these up but this time around I decided to forgo buying it. It made securing the joints a little ify at times but in the end worked out fine. I also made sure to sink the screws into the wood so I could cover them with a little wood putty later on when I decided to stain it.
The Finished Product
After about 3, 6 hour days, much struggling with screws, countless trips back to the home depot my rustic table and chair combo was complete! Overall the cost was more than I initially expected but still within budget. The main things that cost me extra in my case was screws, I bought too much wood, and ended up buying a c-clamp. These things were fine as I knew I would probably be a little off, so it wasn’t to much of an issue. Though a little better planning might have avoided the extra expenses.
(The lady and I enjoying some coffee over our new table!)
Total Cost: $200
Some Lessons Learned
- Buy a C-Clamp. This is one of the most helpful tools when woodworking by your self. Buy one you’ll need it.
- Tools are expensive. I underestimated the cost of tools when getting into this project and the space to house them. I live in an apartment and we didn’t really have a place for lots of tools to be kept so buying a bunch for the future wasn’t necessarily an option. In this case having friends with really nice tools saved me a lot of dough.
- Better Planning. I’m pretty sure i went to home Depot at least 15 times because I ran out of something or needed a tool to complete the job. Lots of wasted time and gas here. Part of it is because I’m a newbie to woodworking so I didn’t know what I didn’t know, but a little better planning would of saved some time.
Hardware folks are you friends! Don’t be afraid to ask for help. I was a super newbie at this and asked some probably obvious questions, but everyone I talked to seamed to really care and wanted to make sure I knew how to move forward.
- Let your wood dry. I picked out some nice un-treated wood from the store, though I underestimated how much the wood would shrink. In some spots held by wood glue its coming apart a little bit, and the boards have some larger gaps than originally planned. Ideally I should of let the wood dry for 2 or so weeks before I started.
Also as a side note I modified the plans a bit to fit things to my liking. I lessened the width of the table to be smaller. I screwed the table top together via the sides and used wood glue with metal brackets (see photo above) to hold it together, that way I didn’t have screw holes showing in the top of the table.
Ultimately I had a lot of fun and accomplished something that I set out to do. Which that in itself is worth everything. This project gave me a lot of time to just de-stress and really just not think about programming for a week. It really helped me go into the year with some better focus, and to re-calibrate on what was important. I plan on making a habit of doing something like this every year. Its nice to do something with my hands other than mashing plastic buttons all day 🙂