Posted on April 19, 2016
To share my summary of learning, I decided to give a podcast format a shot. I love listening to podcasts and really appreciate the casual, natural conversation style of delivery they often offer.
I found myself really struggling throughout the course to hit publish and share my thoughts if they weren’t perfectly polished and to the highest degree of quality I could imagine. As I worked through my learning project and sharing the posts, I slowly let this go and started to just hit publish. It helped. But, I figured forcing myself to speak and listen and share in that way would really push me outside of my comfort zone.
Here is my attempt at turning this into a podcast. It ended up being longer than I had initially planned, but that’s okay – I’m hitting publish!
I used Audacity to edit and mix the sound together. After some searching around online, I found that there really aren’t many other options available for podcasts. Luckily once you get the hang of Audacity, it comes together pretty quickly. My editing consisted mostly of trying to time the intro and closing music, throwing in some transitions, and editing out as many “umms” as I could without completely wrecking the flow of the speaking. I wanted to do more voice modification work, but this proved to be pretty difficult. I found a tool called Voxal that I used to create the different voice I used in the intro, but it proved to be more work than it was ultimately worth. Here is a screenshot of the final file all thrown together.
I found the intro music from a site called BenSound.com which has a whole bunch of other great tracks to use free of charge (creative commons license) and I recommend checking out the work there. After searching for way too long, I settled on the transition sound from FreeSound.org called “Movie Short Swell“. The rest was just me recording.
And, although the final product ended up being almost 9 minutes, I had at least 5 times that in raw recording that I ultimately cut down or re-recorded. The process really gave me a deeper appreciation for the work and skill that goes into both podcasts and radio shows. Audio is a difficult medium to work with. I found it much more difficult than video since you can’t just zoom back and forth – you have to listen to it as you progress to remember your spots.
Posted on April 17, 2016
The last step of my coffee table was to put a coat of polyurethane on it. The wood I chose, cedar, is really soft and marks up quite easily – just running a fingernail over it left a mark. The polyurethane coat will protect it from this and add some durability to the surface, which will be used daily one way or another.
I went to Home Depot and got some polyurethane. I really had no idea what I was doing here, and couldn’t find anyone to help. So, I took a shot in the dark and purchased a can that looked good along with some foam brushes. Before starting to apply it to my table, I headed over to YouTube and found this great, cheesy resource. I was not planning on staining the table, since the natural colour is just great.
So, I read the instructions listed on can and went for it. Here is my progress of applying the protective coating.
This process took quite a bit of time. Luckily, the poly I chose had only a 2 hour wait period between coats, others have longer periods. Between each layer, I had to take a fine (220) sand paper and try to even out the previous application of the poly. I was able to complete this over the course of 8 hours.
I let the last coat dry overnight and woke up to a final product that I’m quite proud of.
And that’s it. I made a table.
Applying the polyurethane was pretty straightforward, although it’s difficult to say if I put enough on (4 coats). It is my hope that this table will last quite a long time and I can continue to grow and learn about woodworking and make my own furniture as I want.
I will be posting a reflection on the process of trying to learn how to do this online following this post.
Now that I had the top part of my frame dowelled together, I needed to be able to put another 2×4 board along the bottom for the bottom shelf to be able to rest on. Since I already put the top part together, using dowelling again wouldn’t be an option since I can’t separate the legs to fit the dowels and the board in.
A lot of coffee table plans that I found early on recommended using pocket holes, sometimes called Kreg holes, to join the entire table together. The following video was a great resource to explain how pocket holes work and how to use the jig. Luckily, I had access to the exact same jig they showed in the video.
It’s important to note that if you ever want to use pocket holes in your woodwork, you must have the right type of screws. After my trouble making the dowel holes perfect, I did a practice run with pocket holes on a spare piece of wood I had laying around.
Once I started the process of creating my pocket holes and joining the wood together, I couldn’t believe how quick and easy it was. Here are some photos documenting this portion of my project.
After using the pocket holes to attach the 2×4 board, I was quickly able to attach the bottom shelf with some other screws and started to see everything come together. Here are the photos and descriptions of me attaching both the bottom shelf and table top to the frame.
After completing the pocket holes, I couldn’t believe I didn’t use this for the previous part of the table as well. They were so simple and quick to complete. I guess hindsight is 20/20. I was also really impressed with all the resources I could find online for using these. The video above from Steve Ramsey was a great resource. There are even resources on how you can build your own jig. For now, I’ll stick to the jig and save myself time.
I’ve put together a lot of Ikea furniture in the past, and I noticed they used a lot of dowels to stick everything together. I decided to investigate how I could use dowels to hold my table together.
Turns out you can even make your own dowelling, as shown in the video below. I opted for the store bought dowels since combining two power tools together at this point in my woodworking career seemed like a pretty risky move.
My basic idea was to use 4 dowels and dowel holes to connect the top part of the frame together. This video (first 5 minutes or so) gave some good instruction on how to go about this.
Unfortunately, I did not have a dowel jig, so my dowel holes were a little rough – as you’ll see in the pictures below. Here are the pictures I was able to take during this process. I did not do a great job of documenting this.
In this step, I struggled with not having the proper tools for the job. I think investing in a dowelling jig would have made this go much more smoothly. However, at this point I was getting a little over confident and figured I could just do it. Ultimately it worked out well and the table frame is solid, but I spent way more time doing this than I probably would have otherwise.
Updated on April 16, 2016
Running my hand over the top of these surfaces revels that my gluing skills need some work. There are what I’m calling “steps” along my boards, where you can easily feel the difference between boards from the lip they created.
To solve this problem, I turned to a hand planer. Apparently there are a number of hand planes to choose from. I used the one I had access to, which I believe would be considered a bench plane.
This video goes through a number of things about hand planers, but also talks about using the plane to go with the grain of the wood.
Once I started with the planer, it became evident it was going to take quite a while to get the boards right where I wanted them. The entire planing process took me about four hours to complete. At times it was painfully slow, but a great way to use my hands and disconnect mentally from the thousand things running through my mind. Below are some pictures and video clips of the process.
This is quick clip I recorded while I was being shown how to use the hand planer.
This step was certainly not expected in my prior research. I did not anticipate the time and sweat it would take to get the surface flush, flat, and smooth. That being said, using the hand planer could only be described as fun. The paper thin shavings of wood were really neat and I gained a deeper appreciation for flat wood panelled surfaces.
This portion of my project was difficult to find resources online to guide me. For almost every other portion of the project, there was a plethora of videos and guies. This topic had a few, but certainly not the amount. Luckily, once I started the process of planing the panels, it was quick to learn and I was able to give myself my own feedback by running my hand over the board to identify any not flat spots.
Now that I had my boards cut down to the lengths I wanted and the edges squared off, it was time to put the top and bottom shelf surfaces together.
The best way to do this is with wood glue.
To keep things all aligned, I created a triangle with my pencil, like suggested by this video:
It was also critical to use clamps. The clamps ensure that the boards straighten out and the table top will actually be flat. This video was useful for outlining the need for this and ways to ensure it.
I was surprised to learn that the glue will actually be stronger than the wood. This means that the wood will break before the gluing will separate. He goes into planing which I will be creating an entirely separate post about.Here are some images from my experience gluing both the top of my coffee table and bottom shelf of the table together.
There are a ton of tips and resources online for gluing the wood together. They can get very technical very fast. So, like other aspects of the learning project, I think it’s best to have someone experienced with this nearby (like I did) so they can help you identify any potential trouble spots early on.