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!

A Diversion from Staining and Finishing...

It's no secret, you all know I don't like finishing.  But, I'm doing it for Legal Doc (next post I'll show you what I've been working on for him!), so it's a labor of love - believe me, no amount of money would be enough to get me to finish all of this stuff I'm working on right now!  And, because I really hate finishing, I've kind of procrastinated.  No, not "kind of", I HAVE procrastinated!

I told myself I had to clean the garage in order to have room to spread out all the pieces that need to be finished.  So, I gathered up scraps and cut them to a size I could stuff into a big trash bag.  I swept and emptied trash.  Put tools and lumber away.  Then, I decided I really needed to return something to Home Depot, but if I was going to return that item, then I should really think about returning the Costco TV mount that I'd decided I wasn't going to use.  After all, Costco is just around the corner from Home Depot and you sure don't want to waste a trip!  But, if I really wasn't going to mount the TV  in my bedroom to the wall, I did need to build something to raise it up enough to cover the outlet that is 6' up on the wall!
See, this really needs to be covered up! 

But, before I started on that "fix it", I managed to do a couple of other little things to put off getting out the stain!

My boss got a new sound bar for his big screen TV.  But, with the sound bar in place, the signal from the remote was blocked.  Now, I'm not sure what he needed to raise, either the TV or the sound bar.  But, based on his measurements, this is what I did - just a simple 2x4 construction job!
He's been on vacation so I don't know if it worked - I'll have to check with him on Monday.  Sure hope it did!

Then, as I was picking up scraps I decided to put some of them to good use.   I made another planter box, a bit smaller than for my nephew and his wife.  I didn't need it, and don't know anyone else who needs it, but darned if I was going to put those scraps in the burn pile!  
I'll probably paint it next time I want to put off doing something I need to do!  Until then, it's sitting in my courtyard and I'll probably end up dumping my junk mail in it!

And, then to finally build my TV riser I needed to cut some wood, buy some trim, build the piece and the drawers that would go in it.  Then I had to clean up again so that I could stain the finished piece, and only THEN would I be ready to just continue on in the finishing mode and get the real work done on Legal Doc's stuff!  This took me a few hours + drying time.  Yes, folks, I'm pretty darned good at procrastination!

In progress...

The stain is the same that I used for my headboard, Light Walnut.  It has a reddish gold tone that is really very pretty, but in this case I probably should have put on a couple more coats of stain!  
It's close enough though, and good enough for me.

I did goof on the measurements-which should be no surprise to anyone!  I made it deep enough for the electronic device, but failed to consider the depth of the power cord.  There's a hole for the cords to come through the back at the bottom center of the piece, so I've shoved the box to the side and pushed the bulky end of power cord into that hole.  That allowed it to be sit back enough to fit.
Not a perfect fix, but, again, good enough for me!  
Next time, though, I'll remember to consider the power cord when measuring! :-)

So, before and after!

 See, the outlet is no longer visible!  It's the perfect height for viewing from bed.
And, I gained two extra drawers 

And, look who was my partner-in-procrastination!  
Gracie-girl was visiting, and here she is peeking at me from behind the makeshift gate I thought I had to make to keep her from roaming out the open garage door.  Turns out, Gracie doesn't want anything more than to be with you.  She stayed right in the garage with me even when we had neighbors stopping by to chat and the post lady bringing my mail to me in the garage.
What a good dog!