Grudge Match Final Round: Me versus My Project
I got up early again on Sunday, Day Two and Round 67 by this time, and with my coffee in hand, I stared bleary eyed at my two sets of table legs and table top.
I took a big swig from my coffee cup and looked at my sets of table legs. One cross piece had fallen out during the night and was resting on the floor like a drunk that fell asleep wherever they landed.
The table top was suspiciously raised on one corner as if, during the night it had aged 50 years and had warped from years of wear. Overnight. The table top also acquired a permanent resident : Charlie snored from his comfy spot in the middle of my table. He cracked one eye open, gave me a look that said “No” and gave a deep sigh before going back to sleep. I reached a toe out and put weight on the corner of the table top and it gave a wobble, disturbing my cranky pooch who told me firmly, “ERRR!”
I sat down in a chair next to my snoozing dog and thought about my project as I willed myself to not take an ax to it.
With my “learn as I go” type of approach, the day before or Round One as we now know it to be called, was actually a success. I had to remind myself of just how successful it was because of all the lessons I learned on the way:
I shopped successfully in the lumber section of Home Depot and bought everything I needed. I went home and cut (and re-cut) all of the pieces.
For the trickier cuts, like the notches in the table legs, I went back to Home Depot (trip #2) to buy a jig saw and a hand random orbit sander. The jig saw is a hand held power tool that can handle finer cuts. I learned how to use my new jig saw and practiced before cutting my notches out. It was a little messy and I had to learn the Zen art of using a hand saw to clean the notches out.
This might be a “me” thing, but you have to approach hand sawing with a Budda level of Zen in your mind. I know each of you has experienced this when you walk up to the shopping carts, all nicely nested together, at any grocery store and give one a tug away from the rest. It was a good tug that you gave but the shopping cart will not let go of its shopping cart family. You look around to make sure no one is looking and put your foot on the shopping cart cousin behind the one you are trying to separate from its family. Nope, they aren’t letting go that easily. You give a series of sharp tugs and it still won’t let go. You now give your best evil eye to the shopping cart community as a whole and pull up your sleeves. It’ is now a battle. It doesn’t even matter that there is a scared teenaged grocery store employee behind you. You walk up to a different family of carts and put both hands on the handle and yank with all your might, with your back in a position of strength and your legs ready to help you conquer the shopping cart army. With all of that power, you yank the entire family, 10 carts in all, with you and land flat on your rear end as the shopping cart family tries to roll right over you. The grocery store manager and half of the customers in the entire store are now gathered behind you with wide eyes. A lady steps over you to retrieve one cart, gives a dainty pull and off she goes with a perfect shopping cart. See? She approached with Zen and you obviously did not.
As I hacked away at the wood with Mr. Old House Chic’s hand saw, it would somehow get stuck and refuse to budge. No matter how hard I yanked towards me or pushed it away, it was stuck. I would have to let go, take a deep breath cleansing me of all violent thoughts and think peaceful Zen thoughts until the saw magically came loose and started cutting again.
I learned how to use a random orbit sander which opened new doors for me as far as being able to sand something really fast. The random orbit means that it randomly moves so that everything is evenly sanded. I was and still am excited about this tool and even learned how to watch out for any pieces of wood sticking up because the orbit sander can revolve underneath it and suddenly you have a foot long gouge in the table top.
…and I learned how versatile wood putty is.
I learned how to use my circular saw. I’ve had this saw for years and never knew how to adjust the depth, the angle or how to get a precise cut.. I fought with it for a few hours, then called Mr. Old House Chic as he was getting on a cruise boat to float towards Mexico with his family. I yelled about how the direction manual was long gone and I couldn’t find one online that made any sense. I finally told him I would just take the circular saw to Home Depot and make them show me how to use it. I hung up the phone and left the house (to go on trip #3 to Home Depot) wearing a raggedy t-shirt and pants with my hair sticking up in wild ways and stomped towards the customer service counter, circular saw in hand with the cord dragging 5 feet behind me.. “Can you help me figure out how to change the depth on this thing?!” The Home Depot guy, bless his heart, took the saw from me without a word and made quick work of teaching me how to use the saw in ways I never knew was possible. I said thank you with an under tone of “I’m sorry I came at you in a scary manner.” He smiled a genuinely humored smile (or maybe it was a grimace) and I stomped back home to deal with my project from hell.
The most important lesson I learned was that in order to build a table that sits flat on all four legs, all lumber has to be square and flat, unless you’re fine with sticking sugar packets under the short leg. I thought I had picked the flattest pieces and I even checked each piece to see if it was square. It turns out that I built a table with unsquared and not quite flat lumber. I bet you’ve never seen a table that can dance a jig and do the jive better than you and I and with these on…
Wouldn’t you boogie all over the dance floor as well?!
Stick around for the big reveal, including these sassy red and white caster wheels, of my finished Farmhouse Table project