Let's start off by clarifying that I am in no way a craftsperson. I can't cut a straight line to save my life. What I do have is a willingness to jump into a project without reasoning it through so much that I would talk myself out of it.
Which our new table is a perfect example of .
We (my wife Kathryn and I) have wanted a nice piece of furniture to replace the IKEA coffee table that I've had since before we met. It was fine for what it was, a better than particle board, apartment sized table, but it didn't reflect our new 'grownupness' and we were both tired of looking at it.
For a few months I had been cruising craigslist looking for a nice, inexpensive wood slab that I could make a tabletop out of. I figured in the land of lumberjacks wood slabs would be a dime-a-dozen and they'd be all over. I figured wrong. There are a few listed on craigslist and those that I contacted responded with either a monosyllabic answer or just nothing at all.
And then I stumbled on an ad from a company called Wane and Flitch in Tacoma (check out their website, it's pretty cool). They got back to me the same day I sent the email. Granted the guy said he just happened to be at the computer and checking the email, but the response was actually helpful! He told me what they had in stock, gave me directions and said they had an open house every Sunday. I thought, this is the place, and Kathryn and I drove out there to see what they had available. Well, that was Memorial Day. Neither one of us are keenly observant of holidays (obviously) and had just not been paying attention. Of course they were closed.
Next Sunday we drove out to their shop in Tacoma and wandered around in a wonderland of wood. Too much alliteration? Anyhow, I had set my heart on walnut. I love the look and feel of it. I almost let myself be talked into a beautiful maple slab and I don't think I would have been sorry if I had. But that didn't happen and we went home with a gorgeous piece of 3 inch thick, three foot by six foot slab of walnut. The guys at Wane and Flitch were great. They didn't make feel dumb that I had no idea what I was doing, they totally helped me out, let me look at each and every piece of wood they had and were pretty encouraging that I was taking on the project. The story of the slab went that the tree came from a goat farm in Orting WA. The goats were eating the leaves of the walnut and it was making them sick. The tree had to go and Wane and Flitch salvaged the tree and cut slabs from it and I took it home. I could tell they took pride in the story of the wood. That it meant something.
So now I have a relatively expensive, large piece of wood, how hard could it be making a table out of the thing right? I thought, sand it a little, slap some legs on it and boom, table.
Insert learning curve. Over the next couple of months I learned about how to flatten a table top, sanding techniques, different types of oils and waxes for finishing and the like (thank you internet!). I bought a shiny new electric planer and then promptly ran it over its own power cord. I sanded for days. I finished the table with oil and wax. Then, because I didn't like the look of it, I stripped it down and did it again this time filling all the pores and finishing with spray lacquer.
This was a big, long project that I really wasn't certain of the outcome.
And guess what? It turned out alright! In fact I really like it, and I don't often say that about this type of project that I take on. All in all a good learning experience, and now we have a real table.
Now to start on the next project...