Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Kid's Table and Chairs - The Completed Table

There comes a point in every project where you finish the final step and the project is complete. After buffing a coat of wax and attaching the table top, I looked at the table standing atop my bench and thought, "... huh, I'm done". But really, I wasn't. It hadn't been delivered. It hadn't been tested. It hadn't been approved by the customer.

With that thought in mind I took the table upstairs, removed the battered table that was the impetus for this project and placed the new table in its final destination. Too bad I was the only one awake at that hour.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Kid's Table and Chairs - Finishing the table

I have found that among the DIY home improvement projects I have done, the biggest bang for my buck, as well the biggest and most dramatic change, has been in painting walls. Taking down wallpaper or just painting over the existing color will transform the entire feel of the room, even if no other changes are made. The same can be said for finishing this table.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Building my shop on a budget - My bandsaw and drill press

My wife and I have done a fair amount of business on craigslist, both buying and selling. Our play room is bursting at the seams with quality, used toys we acquired for our boys and when the toys are outgrown, off to craigslist (and most recently freecycle) they go. I've sold my unused electronics, a small table saw and even a car and all have been decent experiences. So it was a no brainer for me to turn to craigslist to hunt for used tools.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Kid's Table and Chairs - Table Assembly

Up until recently my first furniture project has included the process of taking pieces of wood and making them smaller. There's not much of an emotional or intellectual payoff in that. I can get excited about making square cuts and pieces of consistent length and width, but after doing that you still only have what amounts to a pile of pretty sticks. Arranging those sticks to be the object I see in my head... that's where the sexy is.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Kid's Table and Chairs - The table is down to final dimensions

It has taken a while, but I have finally seen the table, or close to what it will look like upside down. I recently finished jointing, planing ripping and cutting all pieces to final dimensions and had to at least line them up like a table to see what I had. Of course joinery is needed to keep a table upright so I loosely assembled the table upside down on its top and saw what it will look like from a bug's eye view. I should have taken a picture but I was too excited to think about that This one of all the pieces stacked up will have to suffice. On the far left are the aprons, the center pile is the legs and the big pile on the right is the table top.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Add this podcast to your listening rotation

One of my first posts to this blog was a list of my favorite online resources for learning about woodworking. In there I briefly mention the WoodTalk Online message board and its associated podcast. I'm not huge fan of podcasts mainly because I don't often have time to listen to them. My commute to work takes 15 minutes and I like my routine of music on the way in and sports radio on the way home. At home my kids keep us so busy that the thought of having free time while they are awake is laughable.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Building my shop on a budget - My router and sander

I have never liked yards sales or flea markets. It always seems like people are trying to make money on items they would otherwise throw away. When you do see something interesting, it's often priced far higher than what I'd be willing to pay for it used. The idea of treasure hunting is appealing. The idea of waking up early on a Saturday morning to look at other people's crap is not.

Porter Cable 8259
Estate sales on the other hand are different. I've been to two now and have found that there can be some decent stuff to be had at a nice price. In fact I acquired my Porter Cable 2 hp plunge router, Porter Cable random obit sander, some unused router bits and most recently, two brand new heavy duty mobile tool bases at estate sales.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Kids' Table and Chairs - Progressing at a snail's pace

So far this project feels like it is moving at a tectonic pace. I purchased the wood a little more than weeks ago and all I have done is cross cut some of the lengths. I've got a number of 2 to 4 foot boards in my garage waiting to planed. I'm not intentionally taking my time to allow the wood to acclimate to my garage, I bought it from a dealer less than hour away. Our climates are the same. The reality is that with limited time the pace of the project will be slower than I want. I'm just going to have to adjust.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Kid's Table and Chairs - Buying the Wood

I've had yesterday and today off from work. We didn't take a week long vacation this year, instead I have taken a number of four and five day weekends. This was one of those weekends. My wife's birthday was yesterday and we spent the time just hanging as a family. Today I was able to break away for a few hours to go buy the wood for kid's table and chairs.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Kid's Table and Chairs - Design and Planning

And so it begins, my first real furniture project. No vinyl veneered particle board, no allen wrenches, no androgynous Swedish instructions.

Kid's table and chairs at Amazon
The idea for this project came to life a few weeks ago when my wife emailed me at work with a link to a child sized set of table and chairs at Amazon. She wanted to know what I thought about buying this to replace the kid sized folding table and chairs we currently have. The set at Amazon is all birch with a simple, stylish design (pictured left). I like it a lot and it will fit nicely with our decor but I do not like the thought of buying it and I convinced my wife that I could build it. She probably regretted sending the link. Its going to take longer and cost more but she has since warmed up to the idea.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Building my shop on a budget - Part 1 in a series of unknown length - My table saw and thickness planer.

Being new to woodworking means I still have plenty of tool purchases in front of me, but I have acquired many of the essentials. Having limited funds to make these purchases has forced me to be creative and to compromise. Prior to having kids and living on a single salary I would never had considered buying anything used, let alone tools, but necessity sometimes pushes you out of your comfort zone.

Make no mistake about it, if money was no object I would have gone out and bought a shop's worth of Powermatic, Festool, Leigh Neilsen and other high end goodies. However, with a little frugality, resourcefulness and acceptable compromise I have bought a table saw, band saw, router, planer, random orbit sander, shop vac and a #5 hand plane for under $800. The table saw and planer are the only tools I have bought new and the others, while used, are of good quality. In this series of blog posts I'll explain how I researched and bought each tool, the websites I used and some tips I discovered along the way.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Building a basic work bench

I know I need to upgrade from my existing plywood-over-sawhorses bench for the simple reason of wanting to attach a vise to a stable work surface. The combination of the vise and dogs is going to enable me to tackle some bigger projects. I have convinced my wife to hold off on buying a small table and chairs for the kid's playroom and allowing me to build them (I'll certainly be sharing this project with you all), but before I start that project I need a better bench.

One of the online resources I mentioned in my previous post is Fine Woodworking's Start Woodworking website. This is FWW's learning center for new and aspiring woodworkers. They've done good job putting together some great videos and articles including a series of three videos in their second season of the Getting Started in Woodworking series about building a simple and sturdy workbench.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Learn About Woodworking Online

I have been in IT for 14 years now, dating back to 1998 when the internet we know today was still in its infancy. I remember when Google was barely heard of and 56k dial-up was fast. Back then the internet was still the computer geek's domain and though I don't consider myself in that category, there has to be a part of that in me to have stayed in computers for a living.

Fast forward to today when my blue ray player can access youtube and my eighty something year old grandmother uses facebook (sort of). There isn't much I don't consult the internet on first, from looking up a phone number to call for pizza to in depth research prior to buying just about anything that costs more than $10.

With all the world wide web has to offer I guess I shouldn't have been surprised to find the wealth of available woodworking knowledge, but I was, and still am. My misconception about woodworkers was that most were middle aged guys who shunned technology, save for power tools. But really, how advanced is a cordless drill anyway?

Friday, August 31, 2012

Hello world!

Welcome to my blog! This little chunk of the web will be dedicated to a hobby that I have wanted to learn for a very long time. I have yet to build anything of substance but I somehow know this is something I am going to enjoy. Woodworking, the idea of making useful stuff from a material provided by nature, appeals to me from both the creative and natural perspectives. The only problem is that I have no idea what I am doing. What I am finding though is that there is a wealth of woodworking knowledge online. When I first started getting more serious about starting this hobby I was shocked to see just how much information there is available and much of it is free. So, as I figure it all out I'll be sharing my experiences and posting some pictures along the way.

But before we to get any of that, a little about myself. I am happily married to an amazing woman who has given me two beautiful boys. We live a seemingly typical lifestyle that is family driven and revolves our young kids (ages 2 and 4). I work as a network engineer (IT guy) for a large-ish company in Massachusetts while my wife stays at home and does a great job of managing the goat rodeo.

It would seem that living on a single salary and having little free time is not conducive to taking up a hobby. Money is certainly tight for us and free time is at a premium, but so far I have been able to assemble the beginnings of a meager work shop in our garage and I work in it at night after everyone else is asleep. This equates to an hour and a half to two hours on most nights. And because I want to spend as much time as possible with the family, getting significant time during the day in the shop on the weekends isn't common. Hence the "off hours" blog title and url.

No one else in my family is in to woodworking. My father wasn't very handy and while both my grandfathers were, neither would be considered a woodworker. Can I claim Norm Abram as an uncle? I'm a big fan of his shows and can probably blame him for my bug.

That's the gist of my background. My first few posts will about some of my favorite online woodworking resources, my beginner's tools and how I managed to acquire them on the cheap as well as my first projects. We'll see how this blogging things goes with the hopes of it adding to my enjoyment and education and maybe even helping other noobs out. Thanks for reading!