The end table…

I usually don’t start my projects by saying, “Wow, I would really love to build an end table!” No, instead, I usually buy three or four end tables and realize nothing quite fits the space like I was hoping. Then I put it off for another 6 months convincing myself that I’ll find something the right size. In the end, I break down and build it myself to the exact specifications that I was convinced I would find somewhere else.

I often build out of necessity. Things are too expensive, items are made poorly from cheap materials, the lead time is too long, it’s not the right color and or not the right size. So I build. I waited for almost two years to build this table and I shouldn’t have put it off for so long.

I purchased 4/2 white oak, so it’s nice and thick and heavy. I glued pieces together for the width I wanted my tabletop to be and traced a large circle. I originally thought I was going to cut this with a jig saw, but I thought better of it and used a router with a circular jig. This proved to be problematic as the wood was so thick and I had to make multiple passes around the circle. The bit kept having issues and getting stuck and then falling out of the router all together, gouging the wood in the process. I think I needed to take smaller passes each time I went around the circle.

It wasn’t a pretty process, but I eventually had a decent circle!

I spent a lot of time on the computer figuring out the angles I needed for my legs so my table would be a certain height (one of the major reasons for building my own table). I wasn’t overly confident I had figured it out when I started cutting but I had spent far too long drawing it out, I just needed to move forward and see if it worked. By some miracle, all the measurements and angles were accurate. Essentially I built an X and then built two 1/2 X’s to join to the X.

Stain is always tricky for me – I love some of the finishes you see in commercial pieces and I find it hard to replicate those. I loved the grain of the white oak, and I wanted to accentuate it, so I used Verathane White wash on a freshly sanded surface. Once it was dry, I sanded all the surfaces again and wiped clean. This left the wood ready for stain (a mix of weathered oak and classic gray), with white embedded in the grain.

I attached the 1/2 X’s to the solid X. This is one of those steps that I wasn’t sure how to do and so I just jumped in and quickly realized I hadn’t thought it all the way through. I ended up using glue and a screw through the 1/2 X and into the large X. I then attached the tabletop with screws (through the legs into the top) and I just about did a happy dance when I realized the table was solid and wasn’t rocking! 🙂

I used wipe on poly to finish it off. I love Rustoleum wipe on poly in satin. Home depot used to sell it, but now I can only find it at Lowes. Unlike brush poly, wipe on is forgivable. It’s doesn’t leave strokes and it dries even. It has a short re-coat time, but you do have to put a lot more coats on. Every couple coats you’re supposed to sand in-between coats. And I typically do my final coats using a wet sand paper. Its as if you’re using the wet sand paper as your rag to apply. It leaves a smooth flawless finish.

And there she sits. She is heavy, solid oak…and beautiful.

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Coming to an end…

Like many kids, our older kids are busy with sports. My weeks are spent shuffling kids to and from practice and watching games. I really enjoy watching my kids play sports and have made it a priority to be at their games – rarely missing. There is a reason we don’t start sports until they’re older because we are committed and it really takes a toll on the family as we try and manage the schedules.

Hallie’s high school tennis schedule has been a little harder to work with because her matches are right after school when the other kids have activities as well and she’s had three matches a week for over a month – they packed it in. And yet, we’ve been to most of them.

Hallie has her last tennis match of the season tomorrow night and I have hesitated going. It’s on the other side of the valley, a very long drive. On top of that she has seen very little competition this season and wins most of her matches by a landslide and tomorrow’s competition is likely the same. The other kids have practices I need to coordinate…so I hesitated.

And then I picked her up from tennis practice today and was watching her for a minute as they finished up. And it hit me, I can’t not go see her tomorrow – I love watching her play! Her schedule has been intense but I’m so sad it’s coming to an end. She’s worth the 1 hour drive each way to watch her smoke someone! 🙂

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Calm and stars…

On my piano sits a picture of Jesus Christ by Yongsung Kim called Calm and Stars. I can’t remember the first time I saw this picture but I remember being captivated by grandeur of the stars and the light opening up to the heavens.

I imagine this picture is depicting Jesus Christ after he has calmed the raging sea and in it’s place brought peace and light. (Is there anything more peaceful than a quiet starry night?!)

For me, this depiction is a reminder that He’s with me in the storm. I may not always feel Him, but He’s in my boat. I have to have faith that He will either teach me how to maneuver the boat or calm the sea. Always.

Mark 4:37-41

37 And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full.

38 And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?

39 And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.

40 And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?

41 And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?

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The story of the gate…

Our side gate has seen better days.

A while back, when we had a microburst and our trampoline was found crumpled in our front yard, our side gate to the back yard was damaged. It wasn’t anything overly extreme, but it took some time to get it back in usable condition, but we did it.

Another year went by and although the gate worked, the previous storm had left its mark and it was starting to break down. One monsoon/haboob came later and our frame was broken and completely not functional. This was well past my pay grade and I contacted a company to come out and fix it. They came out to give a bid and then never showed up. We contacted another welder and he too didn’t show up. We have backyard remodel plans and we figured we’d address it eventually.

The backyard plans have been slow to come to fruition and we got used to the broken gate hanging on to dear life by a single spring. We kept it in the open position and went about life and frankly forgot about it.

But we have very kind an observant neighbors who are always looking for a reason to serve. This week we were the recipient of that service. At 8pm we found a neighbor on our driveway examining the gate. He had a welder that was going to be in the area and knew he could fix it quickly. The next morning the welder showed up and within 20 minutes he was done. The gate that had been damaged for two years was restored to working condition in no time with the help of our neighbor and someone who knew how to weld it.

After he finished, I wondered why in the world I hadn’t pressed sooner to have it fixed?! Initially, I tried finding someone to fix it, but then I just stopped seeing the broken gate. Why is that? It’s like the pile in my bedroom that drives me crazy, but then after its there long enough, I forget it’s there! I just stop seeing it. The gate had been forgotten – but evidently, not by our neighbors!

Today I’m grateful for neighbors who are bold enough to step in and take action. They didn’t ask if we needed help with the gate (to which I’m sure we would have told them we could take care of it!) instead they could see a need and filled it. Now I’m looking for an opportunity to pass on the gesture. 🙂

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Dash of crazy…

I’ve been working on the bathroom and laundry room (the project that never ends) and it often becomes the topic of conversation with people I know personally, as they’re asking for updates and what I’m working on next. I was recently talking with someone and they said the phrase that I’ve heard SO. MANY. TIMES.

“You’re so talented, I just wish I could do that.”

I chuckle because talent often gets confused with hard work and drive. It’s not as if I was a wood working prodigy that was destined for greatness.

In fact, I was just going through a box that my mom had given me and inside was a little wall hanging I made when I was 14 years and had given to my grandma for Christmas. It hung on her kitchen wall for 20 years until her passing.

I present one of my first wood projects.

My grandma obviously loved my mad skills and kept this on display long after it’s expiration date. She was never able to witness any of my projects first hand but if she had, I’m sure she would have seen an improvement from my early gift giving years.

Not to mention my fantastic bubble-end handwriting! I nailed it. It does not go unnoticed that my 14-year-old handwriting and my daughter’s 14-year-old handwriting are vastly different!

Hard work and determination got me from a fantastic wall hanging to laundry and bathroom cabinets. I tell most people, anyone can do this if they really want to. They just need a dash of crazy to get them started.

Luckily this picture is older and I’m a little further along. At this rate, I’ll be done by fall.

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