There are a lot of little projects on my list that I put into the “you know, sometime I should… ” category. This area of the house fell squarely into that section of my list. Every time I saw it I would say, you know, I should build a different console table for the TV, because this just doesn’t look right…
Now, TV’s obviously aren’t my thing. This one isn’t hooked up to any kind of antenna or cable or dish, so it gets literally zero channels. Sometimes I put a DVD in and watch it on the TV though, which is basically the sum total of its use in my house. But one thing I do know is that spatially, this makes no sense.
It’s too high, too narrow, too deep.
When something starts driving me a little nuts every time I look at it, I start to ask some questions. Does something similar to what I want for this space already exist? Would it be easy to make? How much would I be investing of my time versus how much it costs? Here’s an example from Pottery Barn that I liked, in theory.
But 1.) I wasn’t sure about the finish, 2.) It wasn’t quite the right dimensions, and 3.) $800 was a bit steep, considering I could build it for, uh, $0.
I also figured building a console table would give me a good opportunity to grab some pictures on using pocket screws for one of my posts on Lifehacker, so win-win. (I’m doing a Joinery 101 series over there, if you’re interested… we’ve covered pocket screws, the old glue-and-clamp method, and dowels so far.)
So, this project hit the critera for something I should DIY, and a few weeks ago I posted about how quickly I built the frame. This was basically a half-day project, but, of course, finishing up the last 5% of it took me weeks. However, after an ill-advised attempt to “wind down” before bed by shutting off the computer and then single-handedly moving all kinds of furniture around (does not help wind a person down, by the way) I can finally call this project finished.
I should have done this project months ago.
If you’re wondering about the actual building of this thing, here’s my take on why building projects like this are so easy.
First, I’ve got the wood. I don’t have to do any searching, shopping, or hauling, because I have a veritable lumber yard worth of old wood in my barn. It’s the kind of wood that is good for some projects, and not for others though.
Second, I use the same basic layout for a lot of tables. Take a look at my indoor workbench…
Basically the exact same construction as the console table, the dimensions are just a bit different…
It consists of the four legs (4×4 or greater) all cut to equal lengths, four stretchers for the width (two for the top and two for the bottom shelf)…
And four stretchers for the sides (again, two for the top, two for the bottom shelf)
You’ll notice that I use pocket screws, which are the quickest and easiest method of joinery I’ve ever used. There’s no screwing around with glue, or clamping everything and waiting for it to dry. Those methods have their place too, but for this specific type of building, pocket screws let me assemble things fast.
Also, if you look at this picture again, you’ll see that I found some scrap wood and used it to create a “relief” for the stretchers (meaning they are offset back from the edge of the legs a bit.)
Using scrap for something like that makes it easy, no measuring or lining things up to fuss with.
At this point in the build I’ve now basically only needed to “measure” three things (I just measure the length for the legs once, and then set the guards on my miter saw so I can just lay the next piece of wood against it and cut to exactly the same length), then I line them up and install the pocket screws…
And the thing is more than half-done at this point. Sanding and staining this piece probably took twice the time that actually building it did.
When I finished up “for the day” a few weeks ago I just needed to build the bottom shelf and put a finish on everything.
Turns out there was nothing I wanted to to less than try to find some boards to fit flush into the space for the bottom shelf, but I also wanted this thing finished up, so I went with my old stand-by… slats.
I just ripped a random board in half…
Sanded them down and cut them into slats. Then eyeballed the spacing (and took a very fuzzy picture of it.)
Everything got attached (a couple of finish nails driven through the slats on an angle) and I used some leftover Fabulon Satin poly (from my floors) to finish it off…
Of all the poly finishes I’ve used, this is my absolute favorite. There’s no sheen to the finish at all, and it looks great on my floors. (There’s only one place I know of to get it near me, and I literally drive a hour for it every time.)
This is pre-drying, so it looks a little shiny, but I didn’t take any pictures after it dried, except this one.
For me, this type of project is a testament to how easy things can be if you have the right tools, space, and materials on hand. It’s actually one of the reasons I’ve been stocking up more on lumber recently… taking the two-hours out of my day to drive to the store on the weekend is one of those things that stalls out my entire day, and I’ve got plenty of space to store materials.
And almost more exciting than having the console table done is that I get to check it off my list (something I’m trying to do a lot more of before winter hits.)