Thursday, May 6, 2010

I wouldn't even take it out on a pity date.

So I stumbled upon Ana's Knock-Off Wood site a few weeks ago and I got all ambitious about furniture for the house. I don't need complicated dovetail joints or fancy scroll work, I just need nice sturdy furniture that doesn't look like it came from a dorm room or would tear in half if you leaned on it funny. Also, me and Steve are big on books, we need Serious Bookcases. Steve, who is just ridiculously supportive of me, got me a nail gun. I got some plans printed out, we were good to go. And then Ana put up the plans for this:

Looks simple, eh? Yeah, I thought so, too. I thought it would be a good starter project before I got into tables and headboards and such. And then came the lesson in humility. Because y'all, I made this:

Is that not the homeliest lookin' piece of carpentry ever? I know there's a rafter's square in the picture but apparently I thought it was just for show, because I certainly didn't use it. This piece is so sad and off-square and not flush and just hanging out in the corner with the girl who still wears headgear for her braces. But don't feel pity for it. Because it's mean. It taunts me.

See it!? See it just sitting there with it's little edges. They're not only not flush, the vertical leg in this picture is uneven at the end so there's a gap. This is where my father went "Wow, it did that even after you made sure and checked for plumb and flush on your saw blade?" And then I just blinked a lot like "Well of COURSE I did that." And then I said "Show me how *you* do it. Because I'm stealthy like that.

Boys and girls, it was off by not much, a degree and a half, perhaps. But when it comes to seating boards right up next to it, that makes a huge difference. Plus, it's lookin' at me funny.

And don't miss that screw in the back that won't go in any further.

How do I know it's going to stick up that way forever? Simple.

I stripped the bejeezus out of it trying to get it in. I'm good like that.
At this point I put the top boards on and then I cried little teary tears of "why is this so hard!?" and then realized I hadn't had lunch or dinner and that I was probably tired, hungry, cranky, and in real need of a nap. Things got better after that.

We moved into the new house and I decided to start with something I had some vested interest in and real need for. Instructables (sorry to cheat on you, Ana!) has a great plan for a super-easy platform bed. As a person always in need of storage space and not attached to the idea of a box spring, I'm a big fan of platform beds. I made the one we've been sleeping on for the last 7 years but it's mostly plywood screwed on to 6x6 posts, so it's not really a feat of engineering achievement.

Also, when we tried to get it out of the old house it was such a pain. And the screws were in so tight that bits of it wouldn't actually come apart. I wanted a bed I could take apart, that would be sturdy and easy to fix if something went wrong, and something that (even though it's *under the bed*) wouldn't look like it was dorm furniture (the plywood and 6x6s look like they came straight out of Rush Week).
I grabbed the lumber, just 2 2x4s and some 1x4s and then I went through the epic process of trying to get two cuts done. Two. Eventually the nice guy in the orange apron said "Are you sure you feel comfortable using a saw?!" Buddy, do not start. In my house the nail gun belongs to ME and I'm the one who snakes the drain.
Anyway, at this point I took my lumber home and learned important lessons about the Value of Clamps. Do not underestimate the power of clamps. Clamps will save your ass. Clamps are like being an octopus with very very strong hands. Drilled pilot holes and then carted my drill (who needs a name) upstairs and built my bed.

Check it out, baby's first 90 degree angle. My parents would be so proud. *sniff*

What you see if you're the monster under my bed:

It is level, square, sturdy, everything fits, and it doesn't wobble when I get into it. I'm calling that a success.

And after firing up my nail gun last night just to see how loud it was (lessons learned: a) it's not that loud and b) those pieces of scrap wood had it coming to them, wily bastards) I'm moving on to the headboard. Maybe, if Dad leaves me the Kreg jig when he departs this morning I'll tackle some of the table, too. Duck and cover, folks.


  1. I adore your story!!!!!!!!! I found you on Knock-Off Wood's facebook page.

  2. "Clamps will save your ass."
    I couldn't have said it better myself! I think Ana should have a page for the Homely Hall of Shame or something for people like you and I who have made a project that we would like to blame on someone else! I made some sawhorses last night that make me want to cry! Oh they are ugly!!! I love your post! Glad I am not alone in my efforts! You cracked me up. Thank you, I really needed it! oh and the bed looks great!!!

  3. Ack! I own the power tools in our house, too! And, I snaked the freaking toilet last month. In fact, all THREE of them! LOL Love your story!

  4. You might have been using the wrong drill bit :-)

  5. I like the idea of a Homely Hall of Shame. It's so frustrating to totally screw up your first project and see all these lovely ones. Don't worry, I built the picnic table last week and yeah... I can sympathize with pretty much everything you said. but the bed is looking awesome!