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Monday, July 7, 2014

"Tawnya" the Builder

When we moved to our new house we decided to leave the built in seating and dining room table at the duplex.  The man-friend built both of those specifically for that particular area and since our new dining room was significantly larger, we didn't think it was worth the trouble to disassemble/move everything when it wouldn't fit.

The other issue was that the wood we had used to build the table at the duplex was not fully dry when we built it.  Over time it started to expand, which left gaps between the boards.  Our renters seemed to love it, so we didn't have a problem leaving it.  However, it left us without a dining room table.

For the last few months we've been eating dinner on the couch in front of the TV, which works for some people, but not us.  We enjoy sitting down together at the end of the day and having a conversation face-to-face. So when Vern informed me that he was going to Alaska for three weeks to climb I started hatching a plan to build us a new dining room table.

The only time I have ever built anything was my garden bed here that Vern disassembled and rebuilt while I was away. (Jerk.) Building things is Vern's arena.  I'm too impatient and don't often follow his rule of "measure twice, cut once", which results in a less than desirable finished product.  I wanted to surprise him though with my skills and ability to follow through with at least one project.  How hard could it be?!

The current setup of the new house is double the size of the duplex. (Forgive the rough sketch, this was the first free online tool I could find...and yes, I have a whole room as a closet, don't judge me).

Literally the day Vern left I scoured the internet for relatively easy plans to build a table. When I came across this plan on Ana White's website I knew I had found my table. It could easily accommodate six people, looked great and seemed easy enough.

As soon as I got off work I headed to Lowe's to get all the necessary materials.

It took two separate trips in my car in order to get everything I needed.  It was probably pretty comical watching me unload everything out of my tiny Nissan, but when I set my mind to something I'm pretty determined. 

The plan was very straight forward and provided step-by-step instructions. Step number one was to make all of my cuts, which was easy enough. 

The most difficult part was learning how to make notches on the boards.  YouTube was my saving grace for this one.  Usually I would just ask Vern and he would either tell me how to do it, or do it himself, but he wasn't around and I figured it couldn't be that hard.  

It was. 

Not pretty.  We have eight different saws in the shop.  But at this moment I currently only know how to really use three of them: circular saw, miter saw and table saw.  I've used the reciprocating saw, but that was only to cut nails off pallet boards, which wasn't rocket science. 

Using what I was comfortable with meant measuring out the width of the notch and then using the circular saw set at the right depth to make little notches in the wood.  (Don't worry, I didn't use the saw as pictured above, this was just to show Vern what saw I was using when he asked.)  Once I was finished with the cuts, I used a chisel to pop out the little squares of wood. 

After a few mishaps, I was able to get it down.  

Is it perfect? Nope. Not even close. But I built it.  By myself. With no help from anyone. I was pretty happy.  (Note: in this picture the top boards are not screwed in.  I was too tired by that point.) The next day I lugged it into the house and began the process of adding the final boards and filling all the screw holes with wood filler.  

However, I did run into a small problem.  In the process of screwing the top boards on, I didn't pull one of them tight enough, which left a gap between the boards.  When I went to remove the screw to fix this would not come out. I tried everything with no luck.  Finally I broke down and sent the above picture to Vern with the caption "HELP".  With his direction I was able to get the screw out, so I guess I can't say that I did it COMPLETELY on my own, but pretty close.  

A few hours of filling holes and sanding everything down left me ready for the final task: staining and sealing.  I used Rustoleum Dark Walnut for the entire table.  We previously used Kona for the table at the duplex, which we loved, but I wanted something that wasn't so dark.  Dark Walnut is still pretty dark, but it gives the wood a richer tone than the Kona.  

While I let the stain dry I ran to Target to purchase a new rug. All of the outdoor furniture and furnishings were on sale and I've had my eye on this navy chevron rug for awhile now.  The picture makes it look black, but I promise it's a deep navy color. 

Vern had some old chairs in the garage the I reupholstered with some new fabric. 

They're not exactly what I envision for the area, but they'll have to do for now.  After two (almost three) days of work, the dining room was finally starting to look like a functioning area. 

There's still more to do, such as add new artwork (I hate the current one) and curtains.  Somewhere down the line we'll remove the popcorn ceiling and replace the outdated chandelier, but for a weekend worth of work, I think I made good progress in a room that was previously empty..  

To celebrate, Sam and I went swim at the river. :)

He was pretty happy with that. 

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