Most of the time when I’m building things around the farm it’s just me, my tools, some loud music (and, if we’re being honest, also usually a bottle of wine.) But every once in a while a group of my friends will all have projects they need a little help with, and we’ll coordinate a “building day” where everyone spends a Saturday hanging out in my garage, playing with all the tools and building a bunch of stuff.
It’s such a fun way to take myself out of being “in my head” when I build, and, like I mentioned in this post, sometimes giving myself permission to do these fun, low-stress projects is a great way to re-energize myself for some of the bigger projects on my list.
The last time we did this was back in March of last year, and I’m just now getting around to writing about it, so I’m 10 months behind right now… which seems about right for 2016, actually.
On the list for this particular building day:
- More $25 raised beds (we seriously build a pile of these every year… maybe I’ll do a tour of all our different gardens this year, it’s amazing.)
- A couple of standing garden boxes
- One four-bin laundry storage chest
I actually put slightly more legit plans and materials lists together for this kind of thing so that everyone can go off and build without me bottlenecking our progress. (Ish? I mean… those are still basically napkin plans.)
The day-of we always make a big lumber run…
And then we get a fire going in the wood-stove. Also, most importantly, the beers get opened…
Which is how you know it’s time to build!
(Either I didn’t get good pictures of building those standing garden boxes or the pictures got lost sometime in the last year, but either way you can find way more thoughtful plans for something like this over at Ana White’s site than I’ve ever put together. I didn’t build these exactly the same way, but all you’re going to get are napkin drawings around here… go with whatever Ana says.)
The project I did get a lot of pictures of is this:
Look at that beautiful four-hamper laundry storage chest!
(Literally the only time I get this excited about laundry is when I’m using power tools to build something to hide all the dirty clothes.) But seriously, has anyone yet made a hamper big enough for all our dirty clothes sorted into the proper bins? If you ask my friend Liz, the answer to that question is unequivocally no.
So we built one. Because that’s what the hell we do when life doesn’t give us what we want, right?
We started with the frame for the sizes and back:
We used 1/4 select wood for this, and I taught Liz the fun of building with pocket screws!
The panels for the sides of the chest were 1/4″ cabinet-grade plywood, and we used a full 3/4″ piece for the top.
There are far more savvy ways to build panels for a chest like this, but we went with the “glue and screw” method to hold everything together.
It was quick, uncomplicated, and allowed us to finish this chest inside of a day.
Here it is without the finishing touches…
We used an iron-on veneer to clean up the sizes of the plywood top.
This is literally the only thing my iron has been used for in the last two years. I’m pretty sure it just lives out in the shop now with the rest of my tools… I haven’t seen it for months.
Anyway, we added a few pieces of 1/4″ trim to the front of the chest, then attached the top with a few hinges, and here we are:
Four hampers of laundry, hidden out of sight. Perfect along the foot of a bed, or if you’ve got a decently-long wall in your bedroom…
Now, first of all, those hinges are not the appropriate size for this kind of thing. My memories are a little vague from a year ago, but I’m pretty sure the original hinges we bought didn’t work and we just scrounged for whatever I had laying around to get this thing finished, but in the long run you probably need a long piano hinge for the top. And we also definitely needed to add a chain (or other kind of hardware) to keep the lid from flipping too far back.
Also, we ran out of time to paint the chest over the weekend so Liz had to do that later, but the wood we used was definitely meant to be caulked and painted, not stained (hence some of the variation in wood tone and coloring in the pictures.)
So this isn’t a 100% complete photo, but really, the most fun and important part about this project wasn’t just that Liz doesn’t have to look at her dirty laundry all-day-every-day anymore… I mean, that’s awesome, but I also mentioned before how doing these low-pressure, quick, fun projects are such a mental (and sometimes physical) energy boost for me.
Sounds weird, I know, but this project actually got me into the “here’s how to build this type of thing quickly” mindset (instead of overthinking how to do each step, which had been my MO when it came to building cabinets in the past.) And, with the confidence from this build as my guide, in the two weeks following this “building day” I had some of my best on-the-fly building sessions out in my shop where I whipped up a couple of custom cabinets for my kitchen. (Something that would have taken me weeks of pondering before this project.)
The more I look back at these things, the more I realize how many of my ah-ha moments come from this kind of building. It’s so much fun, low-pressure, and so energizing… I’m really hoping for another Building Day sometime this spring!