Milestones

Every once in a while, it’s nice to hit a point on a journey where you can stop and enjoy a tangible sense of progress. Yes, the journey is the reward, the path of mastery is endless… but sometimes I’m just human and enjoy a little feedback. Tonight I got to glue up the first pieces of my table, and it felt damn good to see vaguely table-like forms taking shape before my eyes!

Of course, two steps forward, one back. The first coat of stain revealed a gazillion defects. Some were systemic – I followed the directions on the stain can rather than my better judgment, and stopped sanding at 150 grit. I should have continued down to 220. If I were sanding purely by hand, 150 might have worked. But a random orbital sander can leave little swirlies in the wood at 150, and they were glaringly obvious to me once the stain was on. So I sanded down whole sides of the feet, and then also had to sand out scratches and marks that weren’t obvious against the lighter wood.

The problem is, when I stained over the sanded down patches, there are now some obviously lighter spots on the wood. So tomorrow I’ve got to do some detailing, feathering stain onto the lighter patches and leaving the rest alone. Wish me luck!

Sometimes (speaking of milestones and comparisons) I look at commercially made furniture with a critical eye, just to have a point of reference. I was in a meeting today in someone’s office, and his conference table top is oak. Sure enough, when I looked closely, there were the tell-tale swirly marks of a random orbital sander! Aha! But I don’t care if that’s a “commercial” standard, or if in fact nobody visiting my home would ever see them unless s/he got on his/her knees and put their nose right up to the table legs. *I’d* know they were there.

The next stage will be a little tricky, if only because the large rails are 5 feet long and 3 inches thick = heavy! They sit with half lap joints in the notches on top of the leg assembly. So what I need to do is actually place them there and carefully mark the outlines of the joint with a marking knife. The joint has to be cut to match these pieces perfectly. I think I’m going to hand-saw this one – I could set up my table saw (after some effort, including removing the blade guard and other safety gear) to do the cut, but frankly I think the hand saw will be just as accurate and probably faster.

Then there’s a complicated attachment of some curved brackets. The next photo set should show the finished assembly! Then it’s up to my dining room to join the two halves of the pedestle (the fully assembled piece would be too heavy and awkward for me to lift on my own). Note to self – make sure it’s going to be possible to move the base out of my condo when the time comes!

That’s all for now. Life’s been good overall. I had another great, hard run on Sunday. I’m finding that a hard hill run on the weekend does wonders for my mood. The “problems” I’d been mulling over simply vanish! And it’s something about running the hills. Going to the gym doesn’t produce the same effect, and even mountain biking hills, while close, isn’t as intense. It feels great to be back into such a primal form of activity. Something our ancestors have been doing for hundred of thousands of years.

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