Sunday, January 3, 2010

Woodworking!?! many of you may have noticed, I have been in desperate need of a hobby. However much I love school, teaching voice lessons, and reading a lot of books every day in preparation for writing every day. (BTW, May 1st is my goal to have a first draft of my dissertation done! Crazy, you say? I agree!). I decided that I would probably really like woodworking, my grandpa on my mom's side made all sorts of awesome gadgets and gifts for us, and I would love to follow the tradition. So my big requests for this Christmas included tools. I got an awesome set of basic tools from my brother, and my father-in-law gave me some absolutely awesome tools. That, together with a great gift card to Home Depot from Santa, prompted me to use the rest of my break to start my (hopefully) long career as a woodworker!

We needed a shoe bench, particularly with the crazy snow and the salt that got tracked regularly into our living room. I decided that would be a good place to start. Its basically a one shelf bookshelf, right? It turned out pretty awesome, if I do say so myself. You can't quite sit on it, but it holds shoes fantastically!

The unfinished shoe bench

Another angle: I added a little lip halfway through construction!
(actually the result of my not being able to cut straight on the other shelf pieces)

After I had built this one, we decided that we needed another end-table/bookshelf typed thing to go between our new chair (purchased on New Year's Eve) and the couch. So I used the same
plans, made it about half as long and a 1/2 foot shorter.

The great story behind all of this was the things that I learned about staining. I only remember staining one other time in my life (I think it was a door with Dusty) and I'm thinking I wasn't very successful at it. So I was excited to try again with my new 28-year-old sensibilities. Turns out they're not all that sensible:

Lesson 1: No matter how cold it is outside - even if you don't have a garage, or a back porch, or a basement - DO NOT stain in your kitchen. Even with all the windows open, you and your wife will end up with really bad headaches and not be in very good moods. Your wife may even retreat to the bedroom, shut the door, and fall asleep for several hours. (You'll be glad to know I came up with a way to make our laundry room - a small hut at the back end of our complex - into a "garage" without causing too many problems for the launderers in our complex.)

Lesson 2: When the can says to wait until the first coat has completely dried before adding another coat, they mean it. I got a bit impatient with the shoe bench and did the second coat while it was still a bit sticky. We ended up with some REALLY uneven spots (see pictures below) and an overly dark color, but it still looks very nice!

This is a close up of the horribly uneven part of the stain. Looks pretty bad! Fortunately a pair of shoes is always on top of it!

The smaller one. This is how it should actually look when one waits the entire time before doing the second coat of stain!

I'm going slow, and doing things that actually make sense for us (seeing as we don't actually own a home yet), but I think I'm going for a kitchen table next! I've got some ideas for how to do it, and it doesn't seem TOO horrible! Here's hoping!


Doug a.k.a. The Woodguy said...

Hi Bryson, welcome to the wonderful world of woodworking. I would like to invite you to check out I have no affiliation just a happy member. No fees or membership required. We can help with the blotching problem.
Doug in AZ.

Kaija said...

Nice work, Bryson! We are on the same deadline for our dissertation! I'm not doing any woodworking, though... I'm impressed, I must say.

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