How I got into Woodworking

 

During a shopping trip to the hardware store I was able to answer some questions for another customer on how to finish a piece of furniture he had made. I gave him and his wife my thoughts and we talked for a little bit and I ended up showing them some photos of the projects I had made from my phone and they seemed quite impressed.

The husband then asked me how I got into woodworking so I talked to them for a little while. That inspired me to do a little blog post on how I got into making my own projects on here. Maybe I can inspire someone else to get into building small projects as well.

I have always enjoyed crafts. From making scrapbooks to other random little gifts and things to hand on the wall, I like to make things and display my handiwork. Well, after college I decided that my old furniture just didn’t really fit my lifestyle anymore. I was working full time and wanted to coordinate the things in my house rather than just have everything mis-matched and all oddly coordinated.

When I went out to buy new furniture and decorations I started to realize just how expensive things were. And especially how expensive the things I liked were. I found that I loved Crate & Barrel, but I certainly couldn’t afford their prices on my income. That presented a problem for me.

I went to Ikea, and although they have some nice things, it really wasn’t my style. Nor did I really like the quality of the construction. Ikea products are great for students but I really didn’t want them for myself. And they didn’t seem to last very well either. Most of their products are made from particleboard and tend to fall apart easily or get damaged easily.

Since the things I could afford I didn’t like; and the things I liked I couldn’t afford, I decided that the best option that I had was to start making some of my own decorations.

I started with very small things and very easy woodworking projects. I made some candle holders and really basic shelves to put on the walls but that was about it to start. The quality of the things that I made wasn’t all that great either because I didn’t have the tools. I ended up buying a nice drill and a handsaw from www.homedepot.com and those were really the only tools that I used for quite a while.

Using the internet was a great opportunity to look around and see some of the designs that other people were making. It was a wealth of knowledge for me to learn and see the plans that other people made and decide on which ones looked like something I could build for myself.

Gradually I started building more and more things. I was able to upgrade my shelves and make something that looked nicer and really looked like the quality of something I would buy from the store.

I also learned the huge benefit of finishing projects. Not as in completing them, but as in applying a finish coating to the project to enhance the look of it. Using various stains and paints I was able to really start to replicate the items that I loved so much in stores like Crate & Barrel. Now I was finally onto something and I was spending hundreds less than I would if I had purchased the items as opposed to building them myself.

So that brings us to today. Now when I see something I like in the store, I don’t think about how much it costs. Instead I think in my head if it is something I could build and try to work it out for how I would go about building it myself. Sometimes I’ll go online and find projects to make but I’m trying more to make my own projects and continue to make my house into a home.

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Easy Pallet Writing Table

After my last post I really wanted to find a use for my remaining pallet wood that I got from my 2 pallets. I already created 2 nightstands but that didn’t use a lot of the wood at all.

I mentioned before that I wanted to use the left over wood to build a new coffee table, but I just couldn’t find any ones that I liked where they had plans that I could easily make. So I decided to scrap that idea and look for something else.

I have a spot in my dining area that is kind of bare. I had been trying to find something to fill that area for while a while, but again, I just didn’t find anything I liked. The space needed some type of shelf unit or table to fill the void. Since the opening isn’t real big I can’t use a real big unit, but just need something to fill in. I’ll probably put some decorations on top and when I have guests over, I can use it to store additional food when the main dining table is full.

Eventually I found a nice writing table that I thought would work good for my wood. The design that I found didn’t actually call out pallet wood, but I thought that the wood from a pallet would really add to the rugged look of the table and would look really nice.

pallet-table

The table at cherishedbliss.com is a really easy design that I knew I could do myself with the minimal tools that I have. Really the only tools that I needed were:

  • Drill
  • Saw
  • Pocket Hole Jig

That’s it for tools, so it is really easy. For the saw, it is best to use a miter saw to ensure you have straight cuts.

As for the rest of the plan, I did it mostly according to the design they described. I used a 1×4 and spindles for the legs and frame. The thing I did differently is that I did not buy a 1×3 for the top slats. Instead I used the pallet wood.

If you haven’t learned how to remove the boards from pallets you should check out my other post where I gave a video on how to do it nicely without damaging the wood.

pocket-holes

The pocket holes are really easy to use for assembly, so I actually use them on almost all of my projects. As long as you can hide the holes inside the project somewhere so they can’t be seen, you can use pocket holes. They tend to be considered a “cheap” way to do things, but that’s what I’m going for with my beginning projects!

table

Once I finished the table, I noticed that the top was not as smooth as I wanted it. I ended up buying some sandpaper and putting a lot of elbow grease into the top to smooth it out. Doing that ended up changing the look of the boards quite a bit. They didn’t have the dark and weathered look anymore since I basically removed the whole top surface from the boards.

Since the top didn’t have the look I wanted anymore, I decided to use a weathering method to make the boards look old again. Before I attached the top to the base I used a solution of steel wool and vinegar to create a dark liquid. You can find recipes for this all over the internet if you just search for it on google.

I ended up putting two coats of the liquid on the wood and let it dry. That made it nice and dark like I wanted and really made the top look like I wanted it. I put a brown stain on the legs to make them darker and match the rest of the furniture in my dining room. Overall I think the colors work. The top is kind of a dark grey, but it is very nice and smooth now.

The table is a great success! It looks great in my dining room area and was a perfect use for the remaining pallet wood that I had. It was an easy project to do and only took me a few hours with very minimal tools required.

Now I need to go find some more pallets…

Cute Nightstand from Pallets

I LOVE making things with old pallet wood. The items look so rustic and have an aged look to them even when they are brand new. They seem to look great in almost any home setting (unless you are a new age type of design person). Anyway I seriously love pallets.

I’ve found that I can usually get pallets for free from the local supermarket. In my city I go to Safeway and Albertson’s, but I’m sure you can go to any of them and ask. That brings up another point – ALWAYS ask before you take the pallets! Some companies get paid to reuse pallets and so it is stealing if they don’t give you permission!!

I recently got 2 pallets that are pretty old, so they look quite worn. However, they are in really good condition. That’s pretty much the perfect combination for a woodworking project, so I set out to browse the internet to find something to make with them. I’m not entirely good about coming up with my own ideas, so I make sure to look around and find ones that I think are cute and are easy enough for me to build.

Before I go any further, if you aren’t sure how to disassemble pallets, check out this video. It makes it super simple without damaging all of the wood!

I was struggling to find anything I wanted when I came across Ana White’s blog. I’ve seen her site before, but I had forgotten about it. Well, she just had a post from another site that had a nice little nightstand in it. I thought that would be just perfect to use my pallet wood for! You can see the nightstand below.

pallet-nightstand

Once I saw it, I knew it was going to be on my mind until I built it, so I ran out to home depot and bought a couple 2×2″ wood boards to make the legs and the base for the top. The girl who wrote the blog said she spent about $12 on her stuff, but I needed more screws and sandpaper so I ended up spending about $18 to build mine. But I can use the rest of the screws and sandpaper on a number of other projects too, so it definitely won’t go to waste.

I only have a handsaw so I cut all of the pieces out according to her measurements. You can look on her site for all of the details – I don’t want to just copy what she wrote, but you’ll get the idea on her site.

She had to “age” her wood because her pallets were new. Since mine are old, I didn’t need to age mine at all and was able to put a clear coat on the boards to seal them and that was it. In fact, you can’t even tell I put anything on them. Since my pallets are dark and I preferred a darker table, I went ahead and painted the legs and base a dark gray color. It really fits in with my room and looks good.

The best part of this is that the project only required one of my pallets! I was able to cut 2 nightstands out of the one pallet and I still had some wood panels left over from that one pallet. So I have plenty of boards to start another project.

I’m not sure what I’ll make next, but I’m thinking about a coffee table. Maybe I’ll make one like the picture below if I can find some good plans to work from. I could only find a picture and not any details on how to make it, so I’ll have to keep looking.

pallet-coffee-table

Until next time, happy crafting!