We have finally gotten to a point with the house building process that we don’t really have anything left to think about. The plans are done. The contract with the builder is done and signed. The bank has all of the information they need and are going through their process. The finishes have all been chosen, or at least as many as we can choose right now. For the first time in 6 months Jes and I were sitting on the couch without much to think about or discuss, and we can’t have that, now can we?

At some point a while ago we decided that we would be attempting to build our own furniture to fill out the new house. There were myriad reasons that we came to this decision, but it basically boiled down to two major points. Furniture is expensive and it’s never exactly what you want anyway. We had done such a good job going through the process of updating the condo, we figured that we can certainly figure out how to build our own furniture. The list of items that we want to build is admittedly pretty lofty, especially for two people that have never built furniture before, but that isn’t something that’s ever stopped us. Until Friday night, this was mostly just conjecture, and then we found ourselves with nothing to do and nothing to think about so we decided to take the plunge and start down this journey.

First off we had to come up with a few ground rules – and here is what we came up with:

  1. This process is going to save us money, but the main point of doing it is to have fun. We will take our time with everything, do it right, and not just rush to get something done.
  2. The condo is an acceptable place as an active workspace, but it must be cleaned up after project work for the day is done.
  3. We will never attempt to build something without the proper tools. With all of the money we will be saving by not buying furniture from Pottery Barn and the like, we can afford all of the tools we will need. If we don’t have the right tool, we will either buy it, or we will choose a plan that doesn’t need that tool.
  4. We will use the best materials we can. Again, since we aren’t paying for Pottery Barn’s marketing team to have a job, we can afford to get the good lumber. This will allow us to make things easier since we won’t be fighting warped wood for things like table tops.

And that’s it. With the ground rules laid out we decided that our first project would be an outdoor coffee table. We found the plans online and it seemed like one that was simple enough to make for our first attempt. It didn’t involve and complicated cuts (read: no miter saw required) and was something we thought we could do in a weekend. The were two major tools that we didn’t have already. The first is a Kreg Jig. What the heck is a Kreg Jig you ask? Well it’s one of the coolest tools I’ve ever seen – it lets you make “pocket holes” that allow you to screw one piece of wood into another through the middle of the board. With a cut list and tool list in hand, Friday night we headed to Lowe’s to embark on this journey.

When we got home, breaking out the Kreg Jig at first seemed like rocket science, but once I fully grasped how the tool works, it is incredibly intuitive. By the end of Friday night we had fully put together the table top and were thoroughly exhausted. Thoroughly exhausted, but feeling very accomplished. Saturday morning we woke up, ran a 5K (20th and 21st place!) and got back to work on the table. Now we had to build the table legs, which is where rule #1 really came into play. Once we had the supports built, we had to attach them all to each other, and then attach them to the table top. The first step in this process was to make sure that the table legs were all square with each other. We had a square (in the 90 degree sense, not in the equal length on all sides sense) table top, and if the base of the table wasn’t square, you might be able to notice. Once we had the legs all firmly attached to each other and square, then we had to put them directly in the middle of the table top before securing. I think we probably passed a tape measure back and forth measuring the distance between the legs and the end of the table top for 30 minutes. Each time we would make an adjustment that was supposed to be about 1/4″ in some direction, but we either moved it too far, or it rotated and messed up another side. Once we were able to get the legs in the right spot, attaching them to the table top was an incredibly simple last step.

But of course it wasn’t the last step. With the table now “built”, it must be “finished”. This is where Jes’ personality will be perfect. She spent the next hour or so sanding down the top of the table to make it more flush. We were excited to get started on Friday so we ignored rule #4 (won’t happen again), and our wood was somewhat uneven. After the sanding project was finished, we were left with a smooth table top with no ridges between the boards that is larger than about 1/8″, and most of them are perfectly flat. And that’s as far as we can get this weekend. The wood we bought was pressure treated, so it is still a little too wet on the inside to stain it. We will let the table dry out over the week and stain it next weekend for a fully finished product. All in all, I am amazed at how well the table turned out, and more importantly, how much fun it was to build. We will definitely keep going on our journey to build out the majority of the furniture that we need to fill the house and hopefully get better with each completed project.

Pocket holes screws lined up

Squaring the table legs

Radar approves

Jes working the sander

Final product

Built to last!

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