The Slightly Confused Woodworker

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Monthly Archives: May 2014

Is it possible?

For all intents and purposes, I finished my plant stand project over the past weekend. I need to add a few more coats of varnish before I put it to use, but it is basically done. Rather than get into detail over the finishing process ( I will save that for another post) I wanted to touch on an aspect of my woodworking that has been bothering me for some time.

If any of you have been following the posts concerning the plant stand, you may know that I had planned on building it using Walnut that I had set aside; I even spent a good portion of a Saturday afternoon preparing the rough boards for use. It was then that I realized that I didn’t have enough usable wood to size the legs to the dimensions I wanted, and because this project is all legs I had to make a choice which I now regret. Rather than making a trip to a lumber yard to pick up more Walnut, I instead built the project from some Fir I had left over from when I build my workbench-believe it or not. I don’t mind Fir, and I’ve used it on other projects with some success, but the stuff I had left over wasn’t all that great to be honest. Once again, I will detail all of this in my next post.

Anyway, my dilemma was simple mathematics: Do I drive 2 hours and spend $150.00 on material or do I stay in my garage and get woodworking with the material I already had? The easy answer seemed to be the correct one, and also the most logical; yet it never really is that easy, because as any woodworker can tell you, making fine furniture, or even semi-fine furniture, isn’t always easy, and it’s never inexpensive. And what may be logical and practical is not always correct, in particular when it doesn’t make you happy in the end.

So the real question is: Do I want to want to use top quality wood for all of my projects and only build one project per year, or do I use less than ideal materials that allow me to woodwork more often? The fact is that I simply cannot afford to drop a few grand on wood every year. Like most people, my wife and I have a mortgage, and car payments, and a child in school, and other bills on top of it. We also would like to move to a new house in the next year, which means cutting out as many expenses as possible in order to save for the “big move”. I’ve thought about taking a hiatus from woodworking, and that thought is a bit scary. There was a time that I was a pretty good musician, and I would spend my weekends playing in bands at area bars and clubs. Then I started a new job, my wife got pregnant, and I didn’t have the time to dedicate to playing in a band. So, I put my musical career on hiatus with the notion that I would get started again once things settled down; that was more than 8 years ago, and I haven’t played music professionally since.

Is it possible to stop woodworking and just arbitrarily start up again at a later date, maybe even years from now? I’m sure there are people that have done it without missing a beat, but I don’t think I could be one of them. This is one of the big reasons I would like to build a new workbench this coming summer. I can make a nice bench from construction lumber, some of which I already have, without spending much money, as well as not worrying about heat and humidity wreaking havoc with my project. Making a new bench will allow me to spend my summer somewhat woodworking without breaking the bank. I also have a decent selection of scrap wood that is too small to do anything with, but good enough to use for practicing dovetails, tenons, and the like. It may be enough to keep my skills sharp. I hope it’s enough to keep me occupied.

The bottom line is that I will never again compromise and build a project that I really don’t want to build using material that I really don’t want to use. If those are my only options I would rather not make anything at all. Maybe taking a hiatus is a good idea, and by doing so I could return to woodworking with improved skill and a fresh mind. Maybe taking a hiatus would be the beginning of the end of my woodworking hobby. I have to think that a little time away from making furniture and focusing on workshop projects as well as home carpentry projects may be the best thing I could do as far as woodworking is concerned: a little time away from the bench to clear the mind and inspire the soul! I don’t know if that line of thinking is logical, but just because it isn’t logical that doesn’t mean that it’s wrong.

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Oh Hell.

With summer fast approaching, I’ve made the decision to hold off on any major furniture projects until the fall. I don’t want to contend with the environment because that’s a fight I cannot win. My garage doesn’t have any real means of climate control, and in the past when I’ve tried to woodwork during the summer months I had to deal with uncontrollable wood movement that nearly ruined the projects I was building, and definitely ruined my good time. But even though I won’t be making furniture I do still have quite a bit of woodworking planned.

The first project I have planned is an easy one. Last fall I started a remodel of our bedroom. We are finally in the closing stages (the harsh winter put a hold on a lot of projects). My wife came to the conclusion that I should put in crown moulding as a finishing touch, and I agree. Rather than purchase the crown, I will duplicate the moulding I installed several years ago in my daughter’s bedroom, which is just a very basic cove and flat trim that I made using a router. It’s easy to install on an uneven plaster wall, and there is no complex sawing involved to get a tight fit, and most importantly, I think it looks nice.

Poor man's crown.

Poor man’s crown.

The next projects will be the workshop/garage projects I had mentioned in a previous post. I will start with a recessed wall cabinet that I am hoping will hold any and all of my miscellaneous tools, stains, etc. that I want within reach, but not necessarily in the way. I will then hopefully move on to a low profile wall-hung tool cabinet to hang over the right side of my workbench area. And speaking of workbenches…

I think I may just take the plunge and finally make my new workbench. I’ve been thinking about, and talking about it, and writing about it for the past three months, so it’s probably about time to put up or shut up. I’ve been watching Paul Sellers videos on making a Nicholson style joiners bench for the past few weeks, and they’ve been my inspiration to finally get started. While I like Sellers bench, my design will be closer to the bench of soon-to-be legendary English Woodworker, Graham Haydon. Sellers bench is a little high for my taste, which really isn’t an issue, but his also utilizes an apron that is not flush to the bench legs. While a bench with a wide apron doesn’t really need to have its legs flush to the top to work properly, I would like to use a leg vice, which needs a flush leg in order for it to work. At the same time, I could always use Sellers design and make only the vice leg flush, but I’m not at that point in the design phase as of yet.

Before I go on, I have to say, yet again, that Paul Sellers is clearly the best of the lot in the world of woodworking instruction, and I say that with apologies to several people. The man is a “real” woodworker, and that I don’t say lightly. I’m not going to get into all that much detail on why I formed this opinion, but if you are reading this blog and you’ve never really checked out a Paul Sellers video do yourself a big favor and watch one; there are many free offerings on YouTube. If you enjoy woodworking I think you will be extremely impressed with Sellers’ videos. I like him simply because his bench throws the whole “French” workbench theory on its ear. I have nothing against the French bench (and am I the only woodworker tired of saying ‘French bench’?) But the idea that you need a massive workbench in order to woodwork is completely ridiculous. Does it work? Sure, it’s 400lbs of wood, of course it won’t move. There is nothing special about the design-4 enormous legs with a thick slab of wood sitting on them. The bench that Sellers builds is far better engineered, yet uses less wood and is easier to make. According to Sellers, the bench has been in use in professional English shops for well over fifty years! That’s enough for me.

If I do make the bench, I will make the base first, and that base may just sit for a month or so until I get around to building the bench top. That’s the nice thing about already having a functional bench; I don’t have to rush. I know I’ve said before that building a workbench can be cost both a lot of time and money, and it may be easier in many cases to just purchase a good one and get to making actual furniture. I still feel that is good advice, as long as you can actually afford to purchase a new workbench; I, however, cannot.

So the real question is: Why build another bench when I already have a perfectly good one? Well, I don’t have a good answer for that if you want me to be honest. The stupid answer is that I’ve wanted to make the Nicholson bench for almost four years, and I think that a summer when I don’t plan on making any furniture is a good time to do it. I think it will be the perfect project to either keep me occupied during the summer, or the perfect project to piss me off, or in all likelihood both. Either way, nothing that happens while I’m woodworking surprises me anymore.

A little Sawstop before bed time.

Just as I was about to shut down the computer, I came across what I believe is an interesting article involving Sawstop saws and the failed legislation. It seems, according to the article, that power tool manufacturers got together and shot down the proposed safety features because they felt it was just too expensive and would force cheaply made saws off the market; I think the legal term for that is collusion, but I could be wrong; I’m not a lawyer. Funny, because I’ve been saying the same thing for two years.

They even created “The Power Tool Institute”, a front organization that presented a lot of really impressive facts and figures to back up their safety claims. As you might have guessed if you have any fucking brains, the PTI came to the conclusion that flesh detecting technology is not necessary on table saws. To me, it sure looks like these corporations weren’t out for the best interests of their customers and woodworkers in general. I find it really funny that several prominent woodworking “journalists” were the first to back the “Power Tool Institute” and it’s laundry list of bullshit facts. Oh, and the “The Power Tool Institute” also claimed that they had a “joint venture” safety device that was much better than Sawstop technology and the manufacturers in the group were preparing to install it on their equipment. For the record, that was more than five years ago and I haven’t seen a single saw with this magical safety device installed.

So, if MY research and the facts I concluded from it are correct, power tool manufacturers ignored the technology and also did their best to discredit it because it just so happens that it would cut into their profit margins and force them to make higher quality equipment. Yeah, I’ve been saying this for two years and yeah, I’m absolutely correct. The shit heads at certain woodworking magazines were protecting their own candy asses by feeding their readers a complete line of bullshit. Yeah, I said it. I was right, because I wasn’t stupid enough to trust a corporation and rather put my trust in what I thought was the right thing. Amazing how that works, because there were and are people out there just like me who have nothing to gain from this, and like me, those were the same people vilified on the forums and in the magazines. All the little sheep woodworkers out there bought all the bullshit that they were presented because the corporations used some of the oldest reverse psychology in the book: The Government is out to get you.

How sad. How many people out there did no research on their own? How many woodworkers just bought the amateurish editorials they read in every woodworking magazine that takes advertising and decided to let the guy who wrote it do the thinking for them? How many of these freaking idiots think to this day that this legislation is some form of Communism??? And for the record, if you are going to use the word ‘Communism’ when you really should be using ‘Socialism’ you should learn the definition of both words first before you start running your mouth.

Anyway, if you were one of those people out there that let some buffoon that writes for a woodworking magazine do the thinking for you, I say ‘Congrats!’ You got what you wanted. You saved some tool companies a lot of money and assured that there will never be good, mass-market power tools ever made again. Have a nice night.

And on the seventh day…

I didn’t have much of a desire to woodwork this weekend; six days of work and very little sleep in between saw to that, but because I had a little free time on Saturday afternoon, and because the plant stand I’ve been building was so very close to being finished, I decided to put in a couple hours after work and finally get it wrapped up. The only thing I had left to do was make the bottom shelf and give the stand a light hand sanding before it was ready for finish.

Originally, I had planned on a very basic shelf which sat on top of the bottom stretchers of the stand; I didn’t really care for how that looked, even though several plant stands I had seen were built that way; I felt it looked clunky and unrefined. Instead, I decided on a slatted bottom, with the slats inset on the stretchers and flush to sides. To accomplish that look, I would need (3) boards, four inches wide. I suppose it would have been easier to just make the shelf from one board, but I felt that the slats would look a bit nicer, so that’s what I went with.

The first thing I needed to do was attach some cleats to hold the slats. I ripped a few strips from some scrap pine- ¾” x ¾” , drilled some pilot holes, and attached them to the stretchers with some pan head wood screws. I then ripped the slats to width and cross cut them to size with the table saw, making them a touch wider than they needed to be so I could plane off the excess for a nice fit. I had to notch two of the slots around the legs, so I marked them with a combination square and cut the notches with a back saw. That operation went easily, except for Leg #3, the warped leg that gave me the problems during the glue up; the notch for that leg took a little chisel work and some light sanding to achieve a decent fit. I then planed the middle shelf to fit with the jack plane, also taking a few swipes from the two notched slats, and with that the slats were nicely fitted.

Clamping the cleats for the slats..

Clamping the cleats for the slats..

Marking the notch around the legs.

Marking the notch around the legs.

With the slats installed the bottom shelf, I stood up to have a look at it from a distance, and it seemed like there was something missing. The shelf looked too boring. For a moment I thought of trying my original idea of one solid shelf but thought better of it, so I instead decided to chamfer the ends of the slats, boxcar siding style. I’ll say something here that will generally contradict my entire philosophy on woodworking: Rather than using a router table to make the chamfers, I decided to use my little shop made block plane. The way I looked at it, if I couldn’t make four chamfers on three short boards using a block plane how could I call myself a woodworker? Anyway, I used a combination square and a pencil to define the edges of the chamfer and went to town. The plane made a mess of shavings, some of which ended up in the tool tray, but it was finished quickly, and the chamfers gave the bottom shelf a more finished look, as well as adding some shadow lines which provided a nice contrast to what would have been an otherwise ordinary feature.

Marking  for the chamfers.

Marking for the chamfers.

Planing chamfers makes a mess...

Planing chamfers makes a mess…

The last task of the day was sanding. I sanded the bottom slats up to 220 grit with a random orbit sander, and then gave the whole stand a light overall hand sanding. Before I called it a day I hooked up the upholstery attachment to my shop-vac and vacuumed as much of the dust from the stand as I could get. Before I apply finish, however, I will have to go over it with tack cloth.

The finished product.

The finished product.

As I was cleaning up the garage I was able to step back and take an objective look at the stand, and judge it as a (nearly)finished project. Though I will readily admit that I didn’t necessarily enjoy building the stand, after seeing it completed, I don’t hate it anymore. The stand looks exactly how I drew it up, the minor change in the bottom shelf notwithstanding. There has to be something positive said for that. Another good feature is that I could easily repeat the process and duplicate the stand if for some strange reason I wanted to build a matching partner. Still, I will reserve my final judgment for when the finish is applied, and for that finish I will be using mahogany gel stain, the same as I used on the matching end tables I built last summer. I did have a few free hours yesterday (Sunday) in which I probably could have gotten a coat of stain on the stand, but I was tired, and I didn’t want to rush, and frankly I had no desire in the least to woodwork yesterday. According to the story of creation, even God rested on the seventh day, so if a little rest was good enough for Him it was certainly good enough for me.

When will we learn?

…Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez echoed the condolences, adding that Americans understood the difficulties of mine rescues – and the grief of victims’ families.

“Tragedies like this remind us once again of the need to ensure that all workers return home safely at the end of their shifts,” he said in a statement. “No one, anywhere in the world, should have to risk his or her life to earn a living.”

For the past few days I’ve been reading reports of a horrific mining disaster which occurred in the country of Turkey near the town of Soma. For those of you that may be unaware of the situation, just two days ago an explosion in a coal mine and an ensuing fire trapped hundreds of miners underground. There have been hundreds of fatalities, and many more are expected. I will be the first to admit that I know little about the history and culture of Turkey, but that doesn’t mean that I cannot sympathize with those workers and their families.

Mining accidents are not unheard of in my part of the country, though thankfully they have become an extremely rare occurrence. There was a time when they were much more commonplace, and they usually resulted from lack of safety equipment, and more importantly, the complete disregard of safety regulations. More often than not, the technology and safety equipment already existed to do much in preventing mining accidents, or at the least to help better protect the miners in the event of an unpreventable disaster. Yet, that wasn’t usually the case as the safety measures were never implemented because mine owners circumvented or just plain ignored the safety rules, and worse, they rarely provided their workers with proper safety equipment to begin with, not because it didn’t exist, but because it they felt that it cost too much. But perhaps the most despicable aspects of these disasters were not only the result of carelessness on the part of the mining companies, but the carelessness of the Federal Government.

“Regulation” is often considered a bad word. Some people in the woodworking community hear the word and they automatically think that the Government is out to get them. Corporations fight tooth and nail to this day to have regulations lessened or even removed completely. The destruction of these regulations is always proposed in the name of profit, and job growth. The funny thing is that much of the time the first regulations these corporations want to remove are safety regulations. It seems that safety is expensive.

Anybody that has ever been in the military, or worked as a tradesman, or in a mill or factory among other places, has probably encountered a situation where the working conditions in terms of safety were lax. They may have even been threatened with losing their jobs when pointing out the indiscretions. There are even times when companies have threatened to close rather than comply with proposed regulations, or even regulations that have already been legislated and are considered law. There are people out there that applaud certain corporations for it, for sticking it to the Government. But in the end, it’s always the people working the jobs that pay the cost.

When the “Sawstop Legislation” was first proposed I was all for it, and I still am. The fact that it didn’t pass doesn’t bother me in the least, though maybe it should. What did bother me about it was what was said on the forums, and what really bothered me was what was written in the editorial sections of several major woodworking magazines. You know why? Because it’s my personal opinion that every one of those “editorials” were written not for the benefit of woodworkers, but to protect the advertising profitability of the magazines. In other words, safety, or the proposal of it, was once again compromised in the name of profit.

Before I go on, I will admit that I didn’t like how Sawstop corporation handled the situation. Some would say that they were trying to force their technology on other manufacturers, and to a big extent they would be correct. Yet, recent history has basically proven that safety features that cost any money nearly always have to be regulated or they will never make it into the market-Seat Belts, Air Bags, Safety Harnesses for high work, GFCI and Arc Fault Protection to name just a few examples. If you happen to believe that the free market will force safer products onto the mass market you are sadly mistaken. Free market correction has been nearly non-existent for more than a generation, de-regulation has seen to that. Mass market products, including tools, will continue to be made more and more cheaply until they are forced to change by law, because if the free market actually worked the way everybody seems to think it does, we would already have noticed a real improvement.

All of my opinions could be way off base, I admit that, but here is something I do know; every person that uses a Sawstop saw, whether at home or as a professional, has a far less chance of being severely injured by the piece of equipment they are using. And if the “Sawstop Legislation” had passed, as of January 1st, 2015, all new table saws sold in California, and possibly across the nation, would have had flesh detection technology as mandatory installed safety equipment, and every woodworker, carpenter, furniture maker, and factory worker that used a newly installed table saw from then on would have a hell of a better chance of going to bed every night after work with their digits and hands intact. Across the country, table saws would be safer, home wood workers would be safer, jobsites would be safer, and going to work would be safer for thousands of people. That’s enough for me.

So yet again, we have another instance where safety regulations were apparently compromised and hundreds of people paid for it with their lives. If Sawstop legislation was as evil as quite a few people made it out to be, I would ask the same people to talk to the parents, wives, and children of those miners that will never come home again, and tell them that safety costs a little too much and that it really isn’t the business of the Government to regulate it. I would have them explain to those families that although things could be made safer, it would cut into profits. I would love to see them present some facts and figures to those families, and show them the dollar value saved comparatively to the life it cost. Because the woodworking magazine editors sure as hell liked to use a lot of facts and figures explaining how much the Sawstop safety technology cost, and how losing a finger really wouldn’t affect your life all that much, and that it would just cost too much to produce a much safer saw. Most of those figures were completely unfounded, so while they were at it I would ask them to also put a price on what they think a finger, or a hand, or even a human life was worth. Why not? It’s all conjecture isn’t it?

Before I go, rest assured I am not comparing this horrible tragedy unfolding in Turkey to Sawstop Legislation, but I am saying that the same line of thinking is present. I know it’s been nearly two years since Sawstop legislation has been a hot topic in the world of woodworking, but that doesn’t make what some woodworking magazines printed in their pages regarding the legislation any less disgusting. Here’s what they said: Safety costs too much. Here’s why: They didn’t want to piss off their advertisers. That’s it. They told woodworkers that they really didn’t need a safer table saw, even though there are still thousands of table saw injuries every year. Why? Because they didn’t want to piss off their advertisers. They even made claims that a table saw with flesh detecting safety technology will make woodworkers careless. Why? Because they didn’t want to piss off their advertisers. Maybe that’s smart thinking, or just plain old good business, but I’m not willing to put a dollar value on my hand, or arm, or life. Yet, a lot of woodworking magazines were willing to do just that.

On making my garage a slightly less painful place to woodwork in…

Though I woodwork in my garage, it is not a woodworking shop; not hardly. My wife parks her car in there, we keep some gardening tools in there, my daughter’s bike, and baseballs, and soccer ball are in there. There are cleaners, and motor oil, and break fluid, and knocker loose, and car wax, and other tools to go along with my woodworking stuff. It is definitely a multi-purpose space. In the eleven years that we lived in this house, I’ve managed to convert the garage from a poorly organized, dimly lit dungeon to a fairly organized, decent place to work and park a car. That being said, there are still plenty of things I would like to do in there, and the next thing I have planned I have been thinking about since the day we first moved in.

My garage roughly measures 13ft wide by 25ft long; in that space there is little more I can now do to improve it without spending a lot of money. But, our garage also has two “bump outs”, one in the center and one in the back. The center one is raised and contains the furnace and hot water heater and is framed out in dry wall with a wide doorway to allow access for maintenance. On the right side of that doorway is a patch of drywall around 2ft wide. I had always wanted to put a recessed cabinet in that space, something around 14 inches wide and 5ft tall, I’m not exactly sure yet exactly which dimensions. In any case, I want this thing to look nice, yet I don’t want it to look like Queen Anne bookshelf, this is a garage after all.

I can probably have the basic frame/shelves built and installed in a morning; the door will take longer. What this space will do is allow me to have a place to keep items like WD40 and Armor All out of sight and out of the way, yet be right where I need them. More importantly, it will allow me to remove the cabinet hanging above the right side of my workbench that contains all of that stuff I want hidden. Most importantly, it will not alter the footprint of the garage one inch.

With the recessed cabinet built, and with the cabinet currently hanging at the back of my garage removed, it will give me the space to finally build a nice, low-profile wall cabinet specifically for holding woodworking tools. The best part about both of these projects is that I can build them for a bare minimum of cost, meaning almost nothing; I have much of the material already. It’s not that I have something against spending money to improve my garage, but we are looking to move sometime in the not too distant future, and I feel it’s foolish to spend hundreds of dollars to make my garage a nicer place to woodwork only to sell the house to a homeowner that likely couldn’t care less about such things.

Before I move onto anything else, however, I have to finish my plant stand. The good news there is the bottom shelf should be finished shortly, and I will only need to do a light, overall hand-sanding to then apply the first coat of finish. I’m hoping to have that done this coming Saturday, and if all goes well I will start the demo/frame out of my new cabinet. I’m hoping that I can get a lot done in a few short days, because next weekend is a holiday weekend, and I have a feeling that my family has a lot of plans for me that don’t involve a garage, demolition, and woodworking tools.

The glue-up….

Maybe there are woodworkers out there that have never become discouraged. Maybe there is a guy or gal out there who has had every project go together seamlessly. There may be that woodworker, somewhere, but he is not I. After spending two hours this evening gluing up my plant stand project I honestly am considering quitting woodworking; it was that bad. Don’t believe me? Here’s an example. As the long night finally drew to a close, I did my customary clean-up of the garage, and while I was wrapping up the extension cord for my sander it whacked me in the balls. Pardon my French but that’s what it did, and my balls are hurting at this very moment because of it. Yet that whack in the balls was probably a fitting metaphor/exclamation point on what was several hours of tortuous woodworking.

Like all horror movies it started off innocently enough; with some free time after dinner I felt that it was now or never so I headed into the garage to finish what I had started. The first thing I had to do was use the table saw to make the kerf for the table attachment hardware. I used the little attachment clip to set the height of the blade and the distance to the fence, and just a minute later it was finished. I then turned to adding the chamfers to the bottom of each leg, and that is when I first noticed something was wrong.

Kerfs and clip

Kerfs and clip

I have an Osborne miter gauge for my table saw. It is a solid piece of equipment that is accurate and easy to use. When adding chamfers to the bottom of table legs it does a nice job not only because of it’s accuracy, but because it has an adjustable stop block. For a task like adding chamfers, I will start with a light cut, and slowly move it in to where I like what I see; I will then set the stop block accordingly. The first two legs went just fine, but the third leg had an issue.

When I “registered” the leg against the gauge I noticed how warped it had become, almost like it was preparing for a new life as a bow. Before I go on let me point out that now it is May here in southeastern Pennsylvania, that means the first really warm week includes a lot of rain and a lot of humidity, and that means that any woodworking project that I happen to be working on will warp uncontrollably. Nevertheless, I finished the chamfering and hoped that the warp could be corrected at clamp-up. Before I went any further I gave the legs a light sanding just to remove the lay out lines. Then it was on to clamp up.

Chamfered leg bottom.

Chamfered leg bottom.

For the glue up I devised a sequence: Clamp up the left and right sides first, and then connect them together with the rest of the stretchers. Now, I’m not claiming that my clamping sequence was a marvel of engineering, but I felt that it would at least allow me to clamp the table with a minimal of outside help, i.e. my wife. Anyway, I clamped the left side first, and then the right side, which had the dreaded warped leg. Both sides went together, though with a little coaxing, but not anything out of the ordinary. I then carefully brushed the glue on the remaining tenons and inserted them delicately into their mortises. It was from this moment on that I really hated woodworking.

Leg three, the warped leg, became a huge problem. Nothing I did could get it lined up, so I did what any other grown man would do and screamed for my wife to get into the garage and help me out. To her credit, she did show up, and with her help I got all of the tenons inserted, and that’s when I noticed that the top of the plant stand looked exactly like a rhombus. I measured the diagonals, and they were more than one-half of an inch off! I’ve never had a project go out of square this badly, not even close. For nearly thirty minutes I fiddled with the clamps, moving them this way and that in order to correct the problem, but I could only improve it slightly.

At that point, I nearly and truly took that plant stand and tossed it in the garbage. Instead, I left it clamped and cleaned up the table top. I found that I had one bright idea left in me. I had planned on attaching the table top tomorrow morning, but instead I decided to use it to try and help square the assembly. I put the table top on the floor, removed the clamps from the body, and placed it upside down onto the top. Because the front was reasonably square, I screwed it down first and used it as my “squareness” gauge. With the front screwed down it was easy to see just how far out of square the table actually was. My combination square was set at one inch, and the sides were indeed 1/2 inch out of square to the front. So I held the combination square as a stop with my thumb, and with the rest of my fingers pulled the assembly to it until it was square, I then screwed in another piece of the hardware and I suddenly had a reasonably square table. Easier said than done would be a huge understatement.

Table top mounted.

Table top mounted.

The last woodworking operation of the night was reattaching the clamps. I attached just two clamps to the top to close in the tenons. I was afraid to add too many and throw the whole thing out of whack, and it may very well yet be out of whack, but for the moment I won’t consider that possibility. I still did not finish the bottom shelf, as the glue up took around two hours longer than I thought it would.

There were only two bright spots in this whole mess. For whatever reason, the legs are perfectly flush to the ground. In situations like this I’ve found that the legs usually need a little bit of trimming to even them out. In this case they don’t, and I’m not complaining. The other bright spot is the stand itself; it actually looks exactly how I drew it up.

Is it square?

Is it square?

I’ve never worked on a project that I disliked as much as this one; it was nearly universal hatred. I can usually find things about any project that I like doing: sawing dovetails, or chopping mortises, or achieving a nicely glued-up table top; there was nothing here. It is projects like these that make me hate woodworking. Projects like this one make me wonder why I don’t leave it to the pros, in the climate controlled shops, with the perfectly flat boards and well tuned tools. I probably could have purchased this stand for just a few bucks more than it cost me to make it, and that’s not including my time, nor the fact that it isn’t even done yet. I don’t even want to think about what I’m going to have to do to get the dried up glue out of the corners.

All in all, this project sucked. I hated making it almost from the get-go, and I still hate it now. But like a stubborn fool I’m going to finish it, because I put a lot of hard earned money and time into making this piece of furniture, and I’ll be damned if I let a scrawny looking plant stand defeat me. But even if it does, I won’t go down without a fight, or maybe I’ll just smash it with my sledge hammer.

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