Sunday, April 28, 2013

Branching out

After yet another long break, I've decided to get back into posting on the blog. For this post I've decided to branch out and talk about my other recently picked up hobby, which is carpentry. I hadn't actually done any woodworking since the Camp Pocono Ridge wood shop in 1998, unless you count assembling Ikea furniture, which you shouldn't. I was excited about getting back into it, but also concerned that I was going to accidentally cut off a finger. Given that my goal was to keep all my fingers, this project turned out great. Even by normal standards it turned out pretty good. The worst thing that happened to my hands is that I got polyurethane on them.

I got the idea to try woodworking again after watching a lot of home repair and remodeling shows. My fiance is obsessed with the HGTV network, particularly House Hunters, which I generally enjoy. She's also watched a lot of Say Yes to the Dress since we got engaged, which makes me want to throw a chair through the wall. (Wall and chair repairs may be an upcoming blog post. Stay tuned.)  Anyways, the various repair projects on HGTV got me interested in seeing if I could try my hand at furniture restoration.

To get started I went to a used furniture store in DC called Miss Pixie's. They have a great variety of pieces and the woman who runs it is very helpful. My goal was to find a bench or other piece of furniture to put out on our patio. After searching around for a while I settled on this bench:

My original plan upon buying it was just to refinish and repaint it, but after thinking about it for a couple days I decided to add a back onto it to make it more like a park bench. This was easier than I actually thought it was going to be thanks to some useful articles online and some help from the guys at Home Depot.

I started out by sanding down the base of the bench and purchasing some unfinished lumber from Home Depot. They cut down some 1" by 4" boards for me to make the back. The vertical pieces were 21" and the horizontal pieces were 42".

I used black Sherwin Williams all-surface acrylic latex high gloss enamel for the legs of the base and vertical pieces of the back.


After that I used Minwax golden oak wood finish to stain the seat of the base and the horizontal strips of the back.

After letting the pieces dry for a few hours it was time to assemble everything. This was the part I was concerned about as I'd never really done anything like this before. I used a C-clamp to hold the pieces in place while I drilled in the wood screws and put the vertical strips on for the back.

I used a kitty litter box for balance while I attached the horizontal pieces for the back of the bench. I may not have any actual idea what I'm doing, but occasionally I have enough creativity to successfully wing it.

After that, all that was left was sealing it, which was actually the biggest pain in the entire process. I used Minwax Helmsman spar urethane clear semi-gloss, which looks nice and seems to have worked well, but it was a pain to apply and is disgusting if you get it on your hands. This was mostly my fault as I could have: A) worn gloves; B) sealed the pieces before assembling them; or C) just worked less sloppily. The picture below shows the wood with the shiny gloss:

The project turned out about as well as I could have hoped given my relatively low skill level. The seat of the bench is a little bit shorter than ideal with the back added on, but its not a major problem. The bench looks great and the seal seems to have held up well through a couple of rainstorms. I'll tarp it up in the winter to prevent any damage. After finishing this up I moved on to a couple of other projects, which I'll be posting in the near future, assuming I don't get lazy again. And there should be some food posts mixed in.

No comments:

Post a Comment