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.

There many gifted woodworkers in central and eastern Massachusetts, from the finest educators to well known pros and a myriad of hobbyists. There is but one lumber yard in this area that specializes in hard woods and it's almost an hour away from me. Downes and Reader is well known to all the woodworkers in the area and fans of Rough Cut with Tommy Mack may recognize them as the show's hard wood supplier. I made the pilgrimage today.

Prior to going I had emailed them a few questions and they were nice enough to reply and answer my newbish queries. The same can't be said for a popular online lumber yard who on their front webpage encourage people to email one of the owners. That email went unanswered. I'm big on customer service and communication since that's been a large part of my career, and not to toot my own horn, but I excel in these areas. A reasonable of amount of effort to help a customer will go along way with me. D&R and the other guys made my decision on where to buy easy.

I arrived at around 11:30am and walked in through big front door in to what is an intimidating amount of wood. Before venturing down the racks I stopped in to the office and announced I was here to buy wood (you don't say).  The woman behind the counter was nice enough to explain that I should pick out what I want and then find one of the guys in green to add up what I had chosen. I thanked her and started making my way in to the wooden abyss. I finally found the natural birch and scratched my head on what to do next. I knew I had to start laying out the pieces from my cut list, but wasn't comfortable writing on the boards themselves. What if I didn't end up buying them? Instead I drew the boards out on the back of my sheet of paper and laid out the pieces there. I picked through the stock trying to find the flattest boards I could and as I selected them I drew a rough estimation of their dimensions on my paper. After coming up with a layout I noted the pieces at one end of one of the board's face. I felt better about a few quick notes as opposed to marking up an entire board. This process ended up taking me about an hour and a half. The guys working there must have had a good chuckle at me fumbling with my measurements and crappy drawings

Eight boards later I was one my way back towards the office to find someone to examine what I had picked out. Seven of the board were between four and half and six inches wide and one was nine inches wide. Turns out the nine inch wide one was more expensive per board foot, but worth it to me to get the entire table top from the same piece. Before the final tally was done I remembered I wanted a couple pieces of maple just to have on hand. I grabbed a couple of shorts and threw them on my pile. My cut list totaled just over nineteen board feet, but I ended up with thirty one board feet, not including the maple. I was a bit shocked to find out just how much more I had to buy. I knew it would be more and had factored in an additional twenty percent to my budget, but even that wasn't enough. Oh well, it is what it is. Hopefully I have enough extra to makes some mistakes without having to make another trip back.

With the car seats removed, back seat folded down and some borrowed space on top of the center console, it all fit in my car. I got home and unloaded them in to my garage. Everyone fell asleep early tonight so I had some extra time to do some work (and write this blog entry). I went through the layout of each board again, this time with one of my kids' blue crayons. The notes I wrote on the boards the and crude pictures I drew on the back of the cut list came in very handy. This time I included extra length in the layouts and still ended up with some good chunks left over. At this point I am feeling pretty good about the amount of lumber I have.

Next up is rough cutting with the circular saw and just enough planing to see the grain and flatten the boards. Then I'll let it all sit for a couple/three days before final dimensioning. That will be the next post on this project. Can't wait to start making some sawdust.

Until then, thanks for reading.

Link to the entire "Kid's Table and Chairs series"