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!