Sunday, June 07, 2009

Completed Furniture Page

Updated on 6/7/09 in red.
My intent with this post is to display some of the furniture I have made in the past few years. I plan to add to it as projects are completed and when I get some of the furniture that I have built out of a storage garage.

An outline of the cost, time, difficulty, type of finish, and some discussion are included.

I also make guesses about how much it would cost to buy something similar to what I built. This is always hard because 1) this would be considered "custom" work and 2) I refer to catalogs like pottery barn for comparison, and 3) the quality of construction and wood tends to make this kind of thing vary a lot. Please feel free to offer constuctive criticism. Any other form of criticism will be deleted before others can see it.

The difficulty is on a scale of 1-5.

1- kit assembly. Assembly of some pre-cut plywood or fiberboard with a screwdriver.
5- Professional woodworker. Requires elegant joinery, inlays, and/or carvings.

Project: Matching Walnut Nightstands
Date Completed: July 2009
Time to Build: 100-120 hours
cost: $100 (walnut plywood, stain, and finish only)
Guess cost in stores: $800-$2000 for both
difficulty: 4/5
finish: minwax walnut gel stain with 2 coats lacuqer
wood: black walnut everything. drawer bottoms and side panels are walnut plywood as well.
in place with neutral-stained walnut headboard.
both together
now not.

Discussion: If you include planning, this was my longest project yet! This started with the planning in November here (including some solid models and also voting by YOU on design) and some intial posts about my progress here.
Around Christmas, I took lots of time off work to get started on these nightstands. I did the bulk of the construction then, and left some of the light-lifting for the next times that I was visiting my folks, and ultimatly took them to my house for finishing. Anyway, due to not living close to my dad's shop anymore, this project moved slowly.
The idea was to make some more furniture for my master suite, which already has a white walnut lingerie dresser and headboard, which are also detailed on this page. The nightstands replaced some mis-matched painted endtables that didn't look very good and also were not very functional.
For this project, we were out of white walnut, so I used black walnut, which did not match at all in color, but did in grain and whatnot. I was hopeful that the contrast would act as an "accent". I think they look pretty good together. However, I am torn b/c I typically don't like to stain these things that dark, b/c it covers up the beauty of the wood.
The building was pretty uneventful and slowgoing. I didn't make any mistakes which made me have to re-cut or throw away any jointed boards or assemblies, which is probably a first. However, due to the inconsistant thickness of the wood and my (lack of)skill at dovetail jiggery, the dovetail joints ranged from tight(good!) to loose (bad!), which made them not look good at all and were probably bad and unreliable joints. To bolster the joints, I tacked the side board to the front of the drawer box, and i knew the nail-holes would be covered by the false-fronts.
here are some other factoids:
>I also used 7/8" walnut to make the entire drawers, including walnut ply for the bottoms. While this arguably a waste of costly and beautiful walnut, especially considering there are 6 drawers between them, it made them look really good and was much easier to work with when using a dovetail jig than plywood! Now when I open the drawer, I gasp in overwhelming satisfaction!

> I recently went to a furniture factory by where I work and they were selling lots of reminant wood (for next project)and hardware. The plywood back (which is not seen) and the drawer pulls were bought there for pennies on the dollar, making an already cheap project even cheaper! sweet!
> At said factory sale, I bought two cases of self-closing drawer guides that had invoices for $350 on each on them. I bought these boxes for a mere $15.00 !! ( this has nothing to do with this project, but I had to share it on this blog.)

> there are three drawers on each nightstand. That is a grand total of six drawers!
Project: Toy Chest
Date completed: March 2007
Time to build: 7 hours
Cost: $60
Guess cost in stores: $120 ($200 according to this custom toy-box builder)
Difficulty: 2/5
Finish: paint
Wood: Birch Plywood

I built this out of scrap cherry, birch plywood, and iron-on veneers. It is intended to be a toybox/bench for small kiddies. It can support my weight in case Alex has some fat friends over. The thing that looks like a picture frame is some scrap cherry from my last project, and the rest is plywood. It is held on with glue and brads. the plywood "box" is screwed together and pluged with hard wood plugs. There is a piano hinge holding the top on, and a dampener to keep the lid from slamming on Alex's fingers (this is on the left but hard to see due to shadows). There is some space behind the lid when it is opened in case we find or make a cushion to go on top. I painted it that green color, and my wife did the beautiful artwork. I was very happy with it. The artwork turned it from a simple and bland look that you could buy anywhere to something very distinctive (and cute?)!
I am pretty sure you could sell this kind of thing at a craftsy tourist trap like Nashville, IN for a pretty penny. Names could be quickly painted on in an hour or less while the patron has an ice cream. Anyone want to go in business?

Project: Cherry wine cabinet/curio cabinet/buffet
Date completed: January 2007
Time to build: 100 hours
Cost in stores: $2000-3000
Difficulty: 3.5/5
Finish: pre-stain wash, cherry stain, 2-3 coats of lacquer
Wood: American Cherry

Discussion: As you might be able to tell, this is cherry. (the drawer sides are birch plywood). Since we don't have a house for this to go in I mostly made this for fun and because it geve me something to do for 2 weeks when I was off work around Christmas. It is a traditional design that is modified from a picture of a similar craftsman design on the internet somewhere. The large "X" can be folded and taken out so it can be used for china or other curios. It also is about the size of a buffet, so I was thinking it would look good in a dining room or foyer area. Right next to the grand piano.
A journal of this project is located here, here, and here.

Here is a updated picture of the wine cabinet, in our house, complete with some bric-a-brac and old timey pictures.


Project: Lingerie Dresser
Date completed: July 2002
Time to build: 180 hours
Cost: ~$100 (hardware and finish only)
Cost in stores: $2000-3500
Difficulty: 4/5
Finish: no stain, water-based polyurathane
Wood: White walnut aka: Butternut

This is easily my favorite piece. The idea behind a lingerie dresser is that there is a drawer for your lingerie for each day of the week. I didn't really build it with that in mind, I mostly just liked the way it looked. In fact, my brother made a fetching one before me and gave me the idea. I made it for my wife when she was just my girlfriend in 2002. You can see a plaque on the top where I dedicated it to her. I also chopped off some of my finger building this.

It started out as wood paneling in a dentist's office and my dad payed someone to pull off the wood. That means the wood had to be reconditioned from 7/8 tongue-and-groove planks into 5/8 dimensional furniture-grade wood. This alone probably took 40-50 hours. It was also very dry and splintery and I took great pains to avoid using wood that had blemishes, knots, and nail-holes. This also added to the difficulty.

The wood is very beautiful. Please notice the swirling grain on the top drawers. The "outside"
is white walnut. Some of the "guts", the recessed panels, and the drawer sides are birch plywood. According to my dad white walnut is in very short supply these days and is basically unobtainable for furniture building. But he also makes up all kinds of shit.

It was pretty difficult to build due to the low tolerances involved when building a piece this small with numerous drawers. I was also extremely anal retentive about it and wanted to make sure that EVERY joint was perfect (like my wife) . I am happy to say that only one joint was more than 0.5 mm!
Project: Headboard
Date completed: May 2004
Time to build: 40 hours
Cost: ~$30 (finish only)
Cost in stores: $800-1500 ??
Difficulty: 2.75/5
finish: no stain, water-based polyurathane
Wood: White walnut aka: Butternut

Discussion: The pictures above are of this bad boy in place, in our new house in South East Indiana. Sorry about the pictures. They look a little yellow because I took these pictures at dusk and had to use incandescent lights.

anyhoo, it is made of the same White Walnut as the lingerie dresser above. When I made this, I was much less obsessive about knots, nail holes, and joints then the peice above. This means it went much faster. I also did a pretty poor job at finishing it because I was rushed. It has a dead mosquito in it, and i didn't do a great job at getting polyurathane on the sides of the slats (in between them). there is some exposed wood there. I guess that is okay, because most of the "bad" joints are hidden by the mattress and it is hard to see the wood in between the slats that is exposed.

I think this would probably fall in the mission- style catagory. We don't have any other mission furniture to match it, but I saw a picture of a similar one in a magazine that I really liked (and the wife), so I built it! Cooper doesn't like the idea of clashing furniture, but he is not the boss of me!

The only notable thing is that I used 5/8" wood for everything. So the posts on the sides were made of five 5/8" peices glued together and the 3 horizontals (the bottom is not shown) are made of three 5/8" peices. Where the vertical slats engage the two horizontal pieces, I simply used small peices to fill in where the slats didn't lap the horizontals, giving the illusion that the horizontals were made of one peice. fooled you!

I made it to fit a standard king-size bed frame, in case we buy a new bed. Some day, I may build runners for the sides and a footboard, but probably not.

I don't think I eradicated any fingers on this one.

Project: Bookcase
Date completed: Sometime in 2003?
Time to build: 5 hours Cost: ~$80
Cost in stores: $200-300 ??
Difficulty: 2/5
finish: Provicial colored Minwax Stain with probably a matte water-based polyurathane
Wood: Oak plywood and solid oak for the top and bottom trim

Cheap and simple bookcase. The plan was to make several matching bookcases and distribute them throughout my living quarters. That never happened as of now.

I like books!

Plywood is very simple to use, and is very strong! It isn't the best looking stuff, but most people would not guess it is plywood. Fools!

The plys are hidden with a thin oak veneer that is ironed on with a clothes iron. I made the skirt and top moulding out of solid oak to dress it up a tad. Believe it or not, there isn't a drop of glue on this badboy (except the veneer). Screws only, with plugs to cover them up. Naw, just kiddin'. It is made of glue that is poured into a mold.

As you can see, it could use more gingerbread. If I had it do over again, I'd probably make a solid face frame for it so that the skinnyness of the plywood was not so obvious.

The stain I picked out really makes the oak stand out, but I am also not a real big fan of oak. I sure am hard on myself.

Project: Desk
Date completed: Sometime in 2000, whilst in College
Time to build: 40 hours (I was a rookie)
Cost: ~ probably $200 or so
Cost in stores: hard to say ??
Difficulty: 3/5
finish: No stain, probably a matte water-based polyurathane
Wood: Birch plywood with white walnut trim

This desk is dope. It is so dope it is difficult for anyone to understand who hasn't used it. I would love to let you use it. Inquire!

Once upon a time, in 1999, I was a physics major, and while I fought off the lady physics-students with a stick, I had a tiny desk that I hated. Multiple textbooks, and a computer were needed at once, and a tiny desk meant stacking of said books, and general disorder, chaos, and then punching the air in rage. Unknown to me at the time, the trend of sitting on my ass for extended periods of time at the end of the day and obliterating my brain cells with the laws of the universe was just beginning, and would only end 7 years later. I am sure glad that I was prescient enough to build this hum-dinger of a sum-birch!:

As a senior, I had one credit I needed to burn on a general humanity course, so I picked some kind of "art" class that allowed me to use the wood workshop. It was awesome (I can get credit for doing a hobbie!?). I picked a desk as my project, and I designed a desk that was purely functional!

These were my desk requirements:

1) It should have an enormous top so i could lay out all my stuff to work on, plus my computer monitor
2) It should have a dedicated place for my (at the time large) computer tower,
3) It should have shelves to hold a bunch of books, notebooks, and a printer
4) It should have a stow-away keyboard so i could quickly change from writing, reading, etcetra, to using the computer.
5) It should be cheap.
6) It should be able to be moved
7) It should have a secret compartment

The result was flippin' awesome. I forgot how much i love this desk. All the joinery was butts into datos. pretty simple and straight-forward. As usual, I used glue hand-over-fist.

It can be disassembled by taking off the top, and it leaves the left and right "towers", which is spanned by a drawer in the middle that has my keyboard on it. Those, too, can be taken apart, and taken out of a room one-by-one. Which is good, because the tabletop alone is 3'x7'. The left tower should have a computer in it, but lately I have been working on my computer so it is under the scoot-in part. Please try not to give me hard time about it.

This desk has put in some serious time while I was a undergrad, teacher, and grad student and served me well. Nowdays I really only use it for bills, bloggin', and showing off to the ladies. If you are related to me I may give it to you when I die.


you need to setup a website for this. i have often thought of making plans for the stuff that i have built (which would be easy since i model my stuff in pro/e as im designing it) and then auctioning plans on ebay with a couple pictures of the piece that i actually made. you should do this and retire.
i was thinking of making a second blog devoted to just furniture, but then i decided against it.

this has been the history of my thoughts about furniture websites.
that looks like quality work congrats i wish i had time/money/tools to make things like that i often think that stuff in stores are not quite my taste
your blog is broke
LOVE LOVE LOVE the toy chest. You are very talented. Great artwork, Melissa! If I had the money, I'd buy one from you.

You could put all your furniture stuff on flickr.
That toy box turned out very nice. What's to become of it if/when you have another child? Repaint or make another?
thanks for the kind words everyone.

Hopefully we can hand it down after repainting it. I guess that all depends on how alex feels about it.
Jorb well done, yo!

Your furniture building skills amaze and astound me. Please continue to pnp.
thanks man. that was nice.
Hi Foo...We miss your good blogs.
where is the clothes thing you built w/ pappy when you were young? i just recently learned that it too, had a secret compartment.

you should have been a double agent.
I would like to have the desk when you die. Unless you somehow die as a direct result of the desk. Like hitting your head on the desk or something.

All these things are very nice indeed. You should sell all of them.

brad, you are 1000 times better at leaving entertaining comments then managing an entertaining blog.

which is to say, your comments are funny.
Can I have the desk if it kills you and bleachy mcbradnsheets doesn't want it?

What if you die a non-desk death, bleach gets the desk then I use it to kill him, then can I have it?
Check your dates, my friend. Unless you are from the future.

Those nightstands look great.

PS. Have you heard from Brad? He never blogs.
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