Monday, July 29, 2013

Legal Shmegal...

I forget that I'm getting old, and that I get tired, and that I'd be better off doing things that I can start and finish within a couple of days.  Remember the kitchen I did last year??  I'd started it and by God I was going to finish it.  And, as happy as I was to do it for Camper kids, it pretty much did me in!  I decided I wouldn't do another job as big as that one.

Weeeeeelllllllll, this job for Legal Doc was almost as big as that kitchen!  Not as many doors and drawers, but still, a lot of pieces.  And, I did the finishing work - which I hate and talked a little bit about in the last post.

Here's the deal.  Legal Doc has a small office in La Verne.  He meets clients there, he does his research and legal work there.  It was a hodge-podge of mis-matched furniture.  A huge desk from my house, a sofa and coffee table from their house, some old bookcases and shelving.  It wasn't very aesthetically pleasing and it was crowded and kind of dysfunctional.  So, Legal Doc sent me a drawing of what he'd like in there and asked me I wanted to build it for him.  I'd just finished a small job and didn't have anything else to do so I said I would love to build it for him.  And, although it was a big job and I've done a lot of whining about all the finishing, I'm really happy that I was able to do this.  Hopefully, he will be happy with how it turned out and find it functional and pleasing to look at while he's working.

His plan was to get rid of everything in there.  He wanted a small conference table to replace the sofa and coffee table.  He wanted a desk without a return and open space under the desk (he has long legs and lots of computer stuff that he wanted to fit under the desk.  All he wanted was a sliding keyboard tray.  I suggested that he have a couple of small pencil-type drawers on either side of the keyboard drawer.  He wanted an L-shaped credenza - his file cabinets would sit under the long part of the L, and the short part would be a cabinet with doors to store some of his more unsightly things - maybe even his printer.

Now, I don't look at things like a real carpenter or cabinet maker.  My brain goes into overdrive when I try to figure out how to build something.  I usually miss the obvious, normal way, and find some backwards, difficult way to do it - that's just the way I am!  So, I thought, "hmmm, this has to be carried up two flights of stairs and these are big pieces, they should be built in pieces so they can be easily carried up the stairs and put together in the office".  And, I thought "wouldn't it be nice if these pieces could be reused in another location, so make sure all sides have finished edges and can be used in other ways than they are in this office".  How hard could that be??  Because this is me, and my weird brain was at work here, turned out to be hard!  And, it was a challenge.  Sort of an "ah ha" moment came over me at one point, and this turned out to be much easier than I tried to make it!!

So, from start to finish:

I used PureBond Birch plywood.  I do like this stuff, it's usually pretty clear, straight, and it's made in America.  To be honest though, some of the sheets I bought for this were not as nice as usual.  
Here's the conference table top (below) - I thought I'd sanded through the ply but turns out there were several places where the top ply was so thin that the stain didn't take well.
I had to buy another sheet of plywood to remake the top.

Desk top waiting for edging.
Clamping 3/4" birch edging to tops.
Desk top ready for stain.

Desk front panel.  The top has a 6" overhang on this side-that's not huge but will
 give people a bit of room to "pull up" to the desk.
Long credenza base - 2 file cabinets will fit under this.

 Finishing in the works

I have to be honest, when the first coat of stain when on, I was disappointed.  I wanted a dark espresso finish and all I got was a blotchy mess.  After 2 coats I didn't think it was much better!  I called Legal Doc and asked him to come look at it an tell me if he wanted me to continue or if he wanted me to paint it.

He came over.  He wasn't feeling well and I think that influenced how he looked at it.  He said it looked fine to him and to just go ahead and keep staining!  He just wanted to go home and go to bed, so I don't think he really saw it.  But, I'd been given the go ahead, so that's what I did (after several more days of procrastination!)

Below you can see that I had pieces all over my garage!  And, I even used the truck tail gate!  It sprinkled this day and I had the back end backed almost into the garage.  I had to put a piece of lumber across the top of the truck bed, too, to keep the rain off those pieces drying there.  I also used the trash can to hold a large side piece.

In this picture you can see that my saw table held several small pieces, too.  I had large pieces on top of the cabinet base, on saw horses, and drying on top of another project that was sitting on the garage floor.

The End Result

 Table top - I finally got a nice deep rich looking espresso finish.
Plenty of pretty highlights, but nothing that looks washed out.

About 3 coats of Minwax Espresso stain and 2-3 coats of Minwax wipe on polyurethane in satin.
You can't really tell, but there are at least 12 pieces stacked here, one of the top and the keyboard drawer aren't shown!
To recap:  
Square Conference table
Credenza - 72" Long L top
Credenza - 58" Short L top
Credenza - 64" Long base
Credenza - 36" short base cabinet w/2 doors
72" Desk with privacy panel, 42" keyboard drawer and two additional "pencil" drawers + 72" top

My garage is full!
Will post pictures next week when they are installed.
Now I just have to remember how they all go together - wish me luck on that score!

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