A Constructive Life

If you came here looking for my goals and musings on a meaningful, and useful purpose in life you should check out some of the other sections of GOGOBEAR.  (if you followed the link here you’ve already heard this terrible joke).  This section is actually about building things.  For the purposes of building and what I want to build in the future here are my goals and objectives.

  1. Learn how to use tools well, including table saw and router
  2. Improve furniture we already have.
  3. Build solid, stable fish tank stands
  4. Make small projects as gifts
  5. Build all of the Star Wars Legos I own.
  6. Build cool functional bookcases that can house all our books and knick-knacks.
  7. Build a kitchen table.

Learn how to use the tools I have: I have in the recent past accumulated a number of nice woodworking and home repair tools.  I’ve got saws and drills and even a router.  The last thing I added was a nice used table saw.  It is pretty basic, but solid.  What I need to do is put them to use in some projects.  The only way to get better at using the tools is to use them.  So I’m going to put them to use.  I’m going to practice through the process.  Between the various Kreg products and other jigs  and such, I have a reasonable chance of making a few projects that are solid and square, if not too exciting.

  • As a start for the building projects I’m going to build a cross-cut sled for cutting longer and wider boards. There are useful and better/safer for projects.  There are lots of various Instructables on how to build them. BUILT IT!!!
  • Practice safety and patience. Just starting up the table saw gave Sara some anxiety, so I need to ensure that I maintain all my digits.  I also need to have the patience to measure and plan and be sure of what I’m doing before I start cutting up lumber.

Improve the furniture we already have: some of our furniture could use a bit of fixing up, other could be more fancy.  These are the kind of projects that are fun because they involve problem solving for practical purposes.  Some are fun and some are functional, but there are several projects I would like/need to tackle in the near future

  • Help Sara make modifications to our IKEA dressers to make them look fancier. We bought some plain wood dressers from IKEA with the idea that we could add trim and paint and make them more our own. Plus they were not very expensive.  Having spent much of a Saturday night (and into Sunday morning) following the 42 steps (excluding the 2 drawer steps which said repeat six times) to put together our dresser, I’m looking forward to adding a bit to it and seeing it finished.  This is really Sara’s project and following Sara plans but I’m happy to help
  • Fixing and painting the bed. We have a lovely hand-made (Thank You Tom Lee) bed.  Right now the sideboards sit at a toe stubbing distance from the floor. Our plan is to raise them a bit and arrange it so that the box springs will fall down into the frame. This will keep the bed from being any higher. Originally we only had a mattress so we set the crossbeams up high to support a platform.  It shouldn’t be complicated, but will be heavy.  While the bed is apart the other thing we want to do is paint it.  This again is Sara’s milieu and she will take the lead on paint and finish.
  • Fix the original bookcase. The original bookcase I built is solid, but it could use a bit of fixing.  This would be a good time to square it up and make sure the shelves are how I want them.  This will also be a good opportunity to repaint it so that it looks like the new bookcases I am building (it was originally painted an unknown but nice shade of grey-blue from the Wal-Mart discount bin).
  • Build a leg brace for the red buffet. Sara has a lovely old buffet table that she has painted a cool shade of red.  We wanted to treat it as a kitchen island with wheels.  When we went to add them, we found it already had the holes cut for the wheels and we just had to add the casters.  Unfortunately the legs in the back seem a bit splayed and given the age and the nature of thin wood that makes up the back of the piece it needs some additional bracing.  The idea will be to build it out of sight but still strong enough to allow the buffet to move freely on its wheels.

Making wooden present for people:  I have lots of idea for little project that I could do in an afternoon that I could give away as present or perhaps for Sara.  Everyone likes something handmade, especially if it is small and useful and fun.  I’m going in that direction right now because fancy and sophisticated require a level of woodcraft of which I am currently not capable.  So if you get me for Christmas this year expect wood.

Build stable, sturdy stands for fish tanks:  I love to have fish tanks in my house. Right now I’ve only got the one, but hopefully in the future more will appear.  Tank stand that fit the same style as our bookcases will be nice.  The other thing I would like is for there to be cabinet doors on the bottom (to reduce the likelihood of climbing and getting into the electrical parts) and a hinged shelf directly above the tank (to keep the cats from sitting on the tank).  These are doable projects and I already have some ideas in mind.

Build a cat tree:  I am mostly annoyed by the cats, but they do have their moments.  Given that I am likely  to have quite a bit of extra lumber I’ll likely build a cat tree for them to climb up, perch upon, and scratch.  This also may be a project where I practice some new method of wood working since cats don’t care if I mess it up, just as long and it can be sat upon.

Build and display my Star Wars Legos: I’ve got most of the sets from the original run of Star Wars Legos.  It was a collection I amassed during my single days (duh).  While they are currently in pieces in my garage, they should be built and hopefully displayed.  I’m not sure where or how they will be displayed but I’ll figure that part out.  Perhaps on some shelves or behind a display case.

Build cool and functional bookcases:  Having already built one bookcase (a bit wonky but functional), I still need more to accommodate the books still in the garage.  The other trick is that books (or anything that is fragile) can’t be on the bottom shelves because Katie is apt to destroy them.  I’ve got a design in mind, I’ve purchased the wood.  It is just a matter of screwing things together.  It is a little bit more complicated.  There is wood to cut, trim to add, and other various decisions to be made about placement of shelf dividers.  I’m done agonizing about the design, it is time to build.

 Build a nice kitchen table: This is the project that Sara really wants me to do, so that we can have dinner with more than just four people at the table.  She has some thoughts about the design and I have begun to investigate a design.  However, this will likely be a project for a bit down the road.  A project that will require a number different techniques and thus I’ll feel better if I’ve practiced a bit on other things.  A table is something that can be kept for a long time.  I’m not really looking for heirloom quality, but I want to build something that I am really proud of, so much so that I dislike the use of table clothes.

So those are my constructive goals.  I’m pretty sure that there is enough there to keep me busy until the next time I decide to write a manifesto.