Preview: the Build

December 23, 2010

At work in the woodshop

I arrived at the woodshop at 10:30 Monday morning armed with my freshly cut plywood, my printed plan, and my hopes and aspirations. The goal was to build two small bookshelves to be side tables for my bedroom as a gift to my husband for Christmas. I was getting a late start since I had hoped to begin the build on Sunday, but a whole free day stretched before me and Ana makes it look so easy. I was confident I could get the boxes constructed in no time.

By noon I found myself taking a lunch break out of sheer frustration. Everything seemed to be going wrong. Even with the help of friends and strangers in the woodshop I just could not figure out how to get the first two pieces attached to each other. Getting them to be square seemed like a distant dream. Finally a friend suggested I build a square jig and clamp the pieces to it (you can see my jig in the photo above). That worked! My next challenge was to get all of my helpfully pre-drilled holes to line up. That part didn’t quite work. I ended up resizing some pieces to fit my holes instead of the other way around. Even so, the few screws that I hadn’t stripped were coming up through the bottoms of my first boards. At this point in the day I fitfully declared that I should have called this blog “Learning to Fail” and just about gave up.

End table number 1Fortunately, it was at this point that a helpful fellow woodworker recommended that I switch to a less powerful driver to use on my screws. He suggested one with an adjustable clutch. I don’t know why this worked, but it seemed to be the key to everything. With the tools you see above I managed to assemble the box portion of the first bookshelf by about 4 o’clock. Putting on the trim went much faster thanks to another helpful woodworker who let me use his pneumatic nailer. That was fun! I felt like a professional as I quickly attached my trim pieces and the backing board. Energized by these successes I completed the entire second shelf in just an hour and a half.

For those of you keeping score that’s 6 1/2 hours for the first shelf and 1 1/2 hours for the second. I was home by 8pm.

Next step: covering my many holes and staining both shelves.

One comment

  1. A while back I picked up a small little right angle clamp at either Home Depot or Lowes. It’s not much, but it’s probably one of the most used tools in my entire workshop. And, it wasn’t even that expensive.

    Anyway, your project looks very nice! Very well done! Have you considered posting it to Lumberjocks.com? (Yeah, the name is kind of unfortunate, but it’s a good site for woodworking projects.) For example, here’s a project I posted there: http://lumberjocks.com/projects/37385

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