Farmhouse Table

My wife, m0mmacat, asked me to build her a new dining room table. We already have a nice heirloom 50’s style table that we received from good friends of the family years ago (that my brother and I used to eat breakfast off of when we visited them), so I was a little taken aback when she wanted to replace it. But we talked about it, and it would be relocated to the kids playroom to have many more years of service as a Lego table.

What she really wanted was to redo the dining room with a French Bistro style theme with a farmhouse style table as the centerpiece. Farmhouse Tables on the retail market can be VERY expensive (think above $1000) at popular outlets like Anthropologie, and are also the subject of much Pinteresting since Ana White and others have posted inexpensive builds using commodity lumber.

We decided on construction lumber (2x materials) because it was inexpensive and easy to get – albeit heavy. After picking out the lumber (and I was trying to be as choosy as I could to the dismay of Home Depot), we got to work on the plans, although I had thought a lot about how I was going to build it prior. I had watched a Norm Abrahms video on Youtube, which outlined pretty much what I wanted to do. The issue was that with construction lumber, I don’t have the tool sizes needed to cut the mortises and such required by the Norm Abrahms version, so I had to compensate by using non-traditional joinery with my Kreg pocket hole jig. I did manage to stick to the basic design, including the horizontal support underneath and the through tenons on the support, however. One of the major design elements was that we wanted the table to be able to be taken apart, which in a lot of Pinterest designs we saw, the table couldn’t be dismantled – meaning once assembled, it would be hard to fit through standard openings like a door.


After assembling the tabletop using pocket holes, the top required a lot of prep work with a belt sander to get it smooth enough to use. I also rigged a cleat system similar to the Norm table using 2x4s and lag screws (no glue). I used no glue because I reasoned that if we ever wanted to redo the legs, it would be much easier to remove the existing cleats if they weren’t glued to the top. I cut the through mortises in the legs, and fitted the through tenons for the horizontal support – locating the mid-support piece about halfway of the length of the table to support the table from sagging. The pins in the ends of each side of the horizontal support keep the legs from splaying, and I used (4) 2 1/2 screws through the cleats into the legs to ensure the legs don’t shift or wobble in the cleats. I used leg levelers on the feet to ensure we could get the table level(ish), because construction lumber will never be perfectly straight as it ages so I just assumed we’d have to level the table when we install it.


We stained the table using Minwax Polyshades (Espresso) and we did two coats on everything but the table underside. Then I waxed the table with 3 coats of Johnson’s Paste Wax. I’m not too happy with the wax finish on the dark stain (I don’t usually use dark stain) but it will provide a minor amount of sheen and protection to the table in addition to the Poly coating.


One final touch: I carved a heart shaped venn diagram with our initials with a wood burning pen onto the surface in the corner. As my wife puts it, it’s the Table of Love.


Full Picasa Gallery Here

New (Old) Lathe

It’s been a running joke in the family up until a few months ago that I should have a lathe, and that every time a project was mentioned, it required a lathe.

Well, my wife had some connections where she managed to happen upon someone trying to get rid of an older Craftsman 12″ Lathe with tools. She asked me if I was interested, and we drove out to see it in person. It was in fair shape, but the motor ran, and it came with basic tools that looked like they hadn’t even been used (still sharp). It would need some work. So for a discount (it was missing a tool rest) I managed to pick it up after a short amount of haggling, and we took it home. After cleaning it up and getting some new centers, I made a board mount for it, and away I went.

Now the problem is that I can’t figure out what I want to do next.


Workshop Twin Screw Bench Vise

While doing some shop improvements, I got the idea to create my own DIY vise to use for projects and so forth. After much deliberation and research, and my wish to keep the project budget low, I decided on mostly wood materials with store bought hardware. I purchased a length of 3/4″ threaded rod, some threaded coupler nuts, washers, a 23/32″ tap, a 3/4″ drill bit, and some lengths of steel rod. I milled the necessary parts down, and used the new Lathe (see this post) to make the lead screw “heads” that would take the threaded rod and the handles. I also had to turn the handle ends. I figured while I was on it, I might as well be creative so I carved the Bushwood logo onto the front of the vise.

I’m pleased with the results. I finished it with 2 coats of Tung Oil and 2 coats of Johnson’s Paste Wax.


Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool Event

Lie-Nielsen Hand Tool EventA friend of mine recently let me know about a Lie-Nielsen hand tool event that was sponsored nearby in St. Petersburg, Florida at a local sculpture studio called MGA Sculpture Studio. I had heard about Lie-Nielsen tools before, as they are one of the premier hand tool manufacturers along with Lee Valley’s Veritas line, and a few other fine tool makers. I have never had the opportunity to see find hand tools of this quality being used prior to this, being mostly a power tool woodworker up until this point.

I arrived a bit before 10AM at the studio, and everything was already mostly set up by the on-site Lie-Nielsen staff. I had a chance to ask about Lie-Nielsen’s A2 tool steel vs the other types (O1, PM-V11). Deneb Puchalski, a staff member and expert on Lie-Nielsen took the time to explain the differences in tool steel and why Lie-Nielsen’s philosophy is geared around A2. As other people started to trickle in, I got to browse around the displays and touch and feel the tools that Lie-Nielsen manufacturers.

As another gentleman in the group also had the same questions I did, Deneb took us as a group through the basics of getting started with Lie-Nielsen tools (and hand tools in general) and what types of hand tools we should start out with. This was valuable information for me, as I have very little experience with hand planes, and Deneb’s explanation helped to guide us in the use of a Jointer plane, a Smoothing plane, and a Jack plane. He also explained a bit about angles of the various types of irons in planes, and how to sharpen them using his recommend method – involving waterstones and a bevel honing guide.

Coming out of the presentation, I must say I learned a great deal about hand tool use and selection – and a little more about sharpening. Lie-Nielsen’s tools are well known to be among the very best in the industry, and after experiencing them first hand, I can see why. They are solid, well-built, and very precise. The staff there was very knowledgeable about the craft and their tools and it seemed like they enjoyed what they do for a living, which is important. I highly recommend going to one of these if you’re a novice, and I have to say that Lie-Nielsen is high on my list of tools to buy as I progress to more accomplished woodworking in the future.