A Few Furniture Design and Construction Considerations

I am in no way an expert designer. I’m just a crazy girl who likes to build stuff in her free time, so take my advice for what it’s worth. With that said, I am someone who started at the ground and kind of taught myself using the resources around me (namely, family and Google, my two favorite worldly entities). I’ve had plenty of “Oh eff it!” moments, but I’ve also had some “Thank goodness I thought of that before I cut the only piece of wood long enough to make what I need!” moments. So, to help save your from having to go back to Homey Deeps in the middle of a project (so frustrating!) or cursing a blue streak at the miter saw (feels good, but not so helpful), I’ve compiled a little list of things to think about when designing your own piece of furniture/anything made out of wood.  Unfortunately, it won’t prevent you from finding yourself like this while trying to figure things out:

1) Dimensional lumber sizes vs. actual sizes:

Okay, fine, if you’re thinking of building something, you probably already know this, but just to make sure you do, I included this tidbit because it really is that important. The dimensions on the signs for the pieces at home depot do not equal true measurements! Here are some general rules copped from this website:

  • subtract 1/4 inch for dimensions under 2 inches (51 mm)
  • subtract 1/2 inch for dimensions under 8 inches (200 mm)
  • subtract 3/4 inch for larger dimensions

And you can see a full chart of the conversions here. A lot of times when building it doesn’t matter what the dimensions are, but that they are the exact same across pieces. Easier said than done.

2) Screws Hitting Each Other: 

I’ve learned this the hard way. If you’re constructing something that will attach to two or more things, consider HOW (what direction, the screw size etc.) they will attach to each other before you drill pilot holes. I have most definitely gone to put in a screw only to hear that unsettling sound of metal grinding against metal. Don’t be like me, and plan where and how things will be attached before even screwing the first thing together!

3) Available Lumber Sizes:

Seems simple enough, right? Get your Google on, or visit your local hardware store/lumber yard to find out what’s available and design around that whenever possible. It’s a lot easier, quicker, and leaves less room for error than trying to shave off a 1/4 inch from a 3/4 inch wide, 6 foot long board. True story.

4) Where the piece will fit and what will fit inside of it:

I know what you’re thinking: ‘Duh!’ I know, I know, but give yourself a little wiggle room, too. If you’re a tried and true un-perfectionist like me, you know that a piece never ends up exactly as it was planned. Things squeeze together, and boards aren’t cut exactly to length. Ces’t la vie, but things will still be salvageable if you’ve left room for error. ALWAYS LEAVE ROOM FOR ERROR.

5) Tools you have:

Plan what you’ll need for cuts: miter saw, circular saw, table saw etc. Do not try to cut all pieces for a nightstand with a jig saw. There is not enough putty in the world to fill those gaps.  If you don’t have the tools necessary, have the hardware store do the dirty work or plan to borrow from a well-equipped friend. Not that kind of well-equipped. Get your mind out of the gutter!

6) Remember, patience, more than skill, is required in carpentry:

I wholeheartedly believe this. And yet I still have trouble following it. I actively try to consider sanding, wiping, dry time, etc. as part of the process. I try to find my inner zen in the back and forth brush strokes of the forth coat of poly. I am almost never failed by the superior results after taking the time for proper prep, but oy, but I still get bored doing it. Thank god for podcasts!

So those are my 2 6 cents. What are your design considerations??

P.s. The desk’s first coat of paint is on! It’s Benjamin Moore’s Van Deusen Blue:

And I know  you can’t get the full effect, especially against our navy living room walls (it looks grayer than it really is), but this is what it looks like right now.

Progress! If it ever stops raining, we’ll be well on our way to a new desk in no time!

A Craft Box Overhaul

Whoa. Can you believe this:

was lurking under this?

Those are craft supplies and sewing notions, piled high in a big wooden crate. I picked up this box for $18 years ago at the Brimfield Antique Show in Massachusetts. When we moved to PA it became the purse stand and craft catch-all, but it only did one of those jobs well. The craft supplies needed an overhaul, clearly.

So, with the catalyst that is Love & Renovations’ Organize-a-Thon, the craft abyss got a makeover. I decided making a shelf insert would be the most effective solution, so after taking measurements, Mike and I headed to Home Depot to pick up the lumber. One 2x12x12 board later (we had one cut made in the store, so it would fit in the car), I got to work:

I measured out and marked the board to fit a configuration I liked (that’s my plan on that piece of paper), then took the board to the miter saw, and got to cutting.

Because this was a 12” wide board, the 10” miter saw wouldn’t do the job with one cut. We improvised and cut one width, flipped the board, matched up the laser to the cut (love that laser!), and cut the other half of the width. Since the shelves were going to be hidden in the box, I wasn’t too finicky about perfection (not that I ever am, ha).

After all the cuts were made, it was time to lay out that bad boy:

When the configuration was finalized, I busted out the beloved Kreg Jig and made some pocket holes to connect the boards at the T-junctions. If you’re not familiar with the Kreg Jig, its the ultimate in joinery. I honestly did not even know that was a word until this little kit came into our lives (thank you Auntie Mary & Will for the wedding gift!!), but yeah, it is basically the ultimate in joining boards, or joinery. I really can’t believe that’s a word. Anyways, check it out:

It’s so ridiculously quick and easy, especially when you’re not worried about perfection. For the junctions where I couldn’t get the drill to fit, Mike toenailed in some screws from the back, just so it would stay together. I forgot to take pics of this. Bummer city.

But yeah, once the the shelves were assembled, in they went!

Once they were in there, I cursed myself a little for buying the board that was $5 cheaper, but double the thickness. Half the box is filled with wood! Oh well, thank goodness all the stuff fit, or I’d REALLY be cursing a blue streak. (See what I mean by not obsessing about perfection? The whole thing is listing port. Ha, what’s better than a little boat humor on a Thursday?)

So after organizing my junk stuff, and thinning the fabric scrap collection, back in it went.

Ahhhh, much better! Now maybe I won’t avoid glue gun use at all costs for fear of ‘the box.’ Darn, I love organizing!

Somewhere to Hang my Scarves

So, I’m a scarf fan. They’re pretty and they add a bit of panache to any outfit, if I do say so myself. Given my fandom of scarfs, it stands to reason that I have a few of them. Or quite a few of them. Seventeen of them, as I found out while doing this little project.

I was cleaning out/reorganizing my closet recently as I’m known to do when I feel in a style rut and after the redo, I was without a place for my scarf pile. After the proper fantasizing of one day having a huge closet in which I’ll never be want for storage, and will always sip champagne while getting dressed, I thought of a piece of ladder I had outside that could help solve my scarf problem.

The ladder is actually a leftover piece from a trash find that we used to display escort cards at our wedding. (Thank you neighbor 2 doors down for chucking it! She obviously wasn’t plugged into the blogosphere’s obsession with rustic chic.) Here’s the other half in a mock up we did pre-wedding:

It looked like maybe an apple picking ladder, but regardless, it was old and rustic and had that great patina that only genuinely weathered wood gets.

I brought that bad boy down to the newly organized basement (thanks to the husband working on it all day Saturday) so I could work where it was warm. Call me crazy, but I was not interested in working outside in 19 degree weather, even if it was sunny.

The ladder was missing a rung at the bottom and was too tall for the spot, so I measured it out and cut the bottom off using the trusty jig saw. (I didn’t wear eye protection, but you SHOULD. I totally forgot until after I was finished.)

Murphy’s oil soap and hot water came to the rescue in cleaning off the dirt and grime that had accumulated in the grain. I scrubbed and wiped until I thought it was good enough, brought it upstairs where it was brighter, and deemed it good and clean. After letting it dry, I went over it one more time with a dry cloth and brought her in the house.

My original plan was to hang it, but after realizing it would involve either a) finding studs or b) toggle bolts, I decided leaning against the wall was a-ok with me.

Unfortunately, after the first go, the ladder stood a little crooked, kind of like we all did as teenagers with one knee bent and a foot turned 90 degrees from forward. (“Ugh, Mom, you’re, like, duh, so uh-NOYINGGG.”) Anyways, Mike came to the rescue and measured and marked evenly from the bottom-most rung using a square rule.

We hauled that thing back down to the basement and employed the miter saw to cut this time. (Didn’t realize this pic was blurry until it was too late. Bummer.)

Back upstairs, I leaned it against the wall:

Hung the scarves:

And turned it around!

Et voila! Ladder turned scarf rack. Getting them on and off is easy-peasy, and I love that I can see all of them. Look out, world, my accessorizing is about to be kicked up at least 10 notches.