Coffee table #2: A new normal...making lemonade

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Blog entry by Mark Shymanski posted 08-15-2014 03:58 AM 2739 reads 0 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 1: On your mark, get sketchup, go... Part 2 of Coffee table series no next part

Life has thrown some pretty nasty hardballs at us this past year and a bit and my kids and I are starting to recover. We we’re sitting in our rec room (do people still call ‘em that? :-) and my daughter said it would be nice to have a coffee table in front of the TV. I’d been trying really hard to think of something we could all do together so I half jokingly said why don’t we build one. Lauren and Paul jumped on the idea.

We got out the tape measure and used Paul’s train table (as seen here as a starting place and to give the kids something tangible to get the idea if what we would be building. The above image is Lauren’s sketch of what the table would look like.

This is from a stack of cherry we’d bought way back when I first started this blog under much happier circumstance. We all sorted through the entire stack and selected the boards on their grain and colouring. There were many times I caught myself near tears at the smiles and laughter as we chose boards, measured and just generally acted like normal. I’m sure there are other dads out there who are laughing on the outside even while they are hurting on the inside. It was a joy and a surprise to watch my daughter select boards and excitedly remark on the grain and textures of the wood. Once I planed a bit off to expose the clean cherry she made the leap to being able to visualize what the board could look like under all the mill stamps and marks.

After jointing an edge and a face (they didn’t get to do that part!) my 6” jointer wasn’t quite wide enough for all the boards so you see Lauren block planing down the lip left over. Paul in the background is sanding off ridges left behind by knicks in my thickness planer blades. I’d moved the planer down onto one of the workmates so they could feed in and recover the boards…it was a three person job as we worked on becoming comfortable with the safety rules and safe operating procedures.

I am not entirely sure how we got to painting the bench but it seemed like the bench needed painting:-) Lauren is a big fan of the Geronimo Stilton series of books and is very fond of substitution codes ... the yellow heiroglyphs in the middle are a ‘code’ we’d use when words wouldn’t come…it reads ‘eye love ewe’ a phrase that is punny and silly but helped a lot, and still does.

Having fun scrolling:

One of the ways we coped was learning to scroll saw together (I am extremely grateful for the scrollsawing tutorial Sheila L. posted here! That activity came at a critical time for us) here is Paul burning through some wood and healing just a little more.

I’ll hope to take more photos and post here as the project progresses, thanks for listening/reading.

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

7 comments so far

View chairgal's profile


13 posts in 1901 days

#1 posted 08-15-2014 04:05 AM

now this is how I got started with my dad at about the same age – eons ago, get the children involved in your lives they are like sponges even in this computer age and especially if they are keen- also gets them to think in a different way. I made one for a small confined space using the front of an old piano that had been thrown away?? Will find some pics and post them.
Look forward to seeing more pics.

-- patindale8

View lightweightladylefty's profile


3396 posts in 4223 days

#2 posted 08-15-2014 05:57 AM


It certainly is wonderful seeing father and children working together. It will be a very memorable project. Keep it up because you don’t want the children to squabble over who gets it when they get older. If you have made several projects together, they can share! ;-)


-- Jesus is the ONLY reason for ANY season.

View Jake's profile


850 posts in 2141 days

#3 posted 08-15-2014 07:14 AM

I can’t wait to do this with my kid(s)! That is awesome!

Also: “When life serves you lemons, one of the options is to find some ice, rum and mixers.” :)

-- Measure twice, cut once, cut again for good measure.

View stefang's profile


16748 posts in 3845 days

#4 posted 08-15-2014 10:07 AM

The time spent working together mean a lot to kids and they never forget it.

-- Mike, an American living in Norway.

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5623 posts in 4223 days

#5 posted 08-16-2014 05:50 AM

Thanks all! I’m writing this with my two wee ones curled up beside me fast asleep after a made up bedtime story:-). Chair gal you are spot on about them being sponges. I remember working with my Dad learning all kinds of stuff and I know how much I treasure those memories, I hope the tradition will continue with my family. LW I do hope that this will be the first of many projects that we work together on! Jake time spent with my kids in the shop is better than any mixer or potion, it is life giving and faith restoring. It is one of the best parts of being a dad, you will certainly enjoy it! :-). You are right Mike, and they seem to know it is truly a valuable contribution to our family. I think kids can recognize busy work meant to just distract them and sincere work meant to help them grow and for them to have an opportunity to contribute to tha family.

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View Dan Lyke's profile

Dan Lyke

1520 posts in 4635 days

#6 posted 08-16-2014 02:44 PM

Awesome! I’ve had friends’s kids come work in the shop, but they only get small projects, and usually their parents want to socialize so the kids don’t get all the attention they need for a project to really succeed. Take advantage of that opportunity to support your kids all the way through abig project.

-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California,

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5623 posts in 4223 days

#7 posted 08-17-2014 06:13 AM

Thanks Dan. I am making the best of every opportunity, life has shown us how fleeting things can be so we make hay while we have the sun.

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

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