Looked easier on paper. #1: Introduction

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Blog entry by Verilith posted 03-07-2007 04:51 AM 1401 reads 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Looked easier on paper. series Part 2: It's begining to look a lot like something. »

My wife was less than pleased when I decided to begin working with wood again after so many years. After all, the last time I’d done any kind of woodwork, we hadn’t yet met. I could see where she was coming from, since in her mind it was just another one of my random ideas. Knowing how her mind works, I decided to start off very small with the few tools my Father had left me when he passed away, and work with some inexpensive wood so she wouldn’t notice the impact in the budget. I took my time and whipped up a small whitewood shelf to hold some of her little knick-knacks; I was very upset with the shelf due to an over-critical nature my father instilled in me. Every little thing with the shelf drove me nuts, and I was sure she’d eat me alive when she saw it, accusing me of wasting time and money on something I had no business doing. To my surprise, she was delighted with the piece of junk; apperantly she doesn’t have very high standards when it comes to woodwork. Either way, she was pleased, so I used this to my advantage and talked her into letting me buy a tablesaw and begin a real project – a simple toybox for each of my children.

I decided that since money was still an issue, I’d go with the less expensive woods – ponderosa pine and cedar. I worked up what I thought was a well thought out design of a pine frame with cedar slatting on the sides, back, and front. This was my first mistake. I didn’t bother to take into account exactly how much wood I’d need to do the slatting. Oops.

My second mistake was in my initial idea to make the toybox safer for my children. I was worried about their fingers getting smashed between the lid and frame, so I worked up a flat rolltop design. What I failed to consider, however, was that toys becoming lodged in the rolltop slide would be inevitable. A quick redesign of the top and frame solved this problem without too much pain.

My third was a failure was a bit more of a problem. In all my hours of designing, I neglected to work in a bottom of the toybox. Oops. This took me a few days to work out in my head, which is fine because I’ve been very busy with work lately. It eventually came down to some tight work with a buscuit cutter.

Finally, as of last night, my router is on its last leg. I can hear the bearings making an awful sound, so I don’t think it will make it through this project. I can’t really blame it, since it’s almost as old as I am. Hopefully the wife won’t make my life too miserable when I come home with a new one. lol

So far, this is all I’ve had a problem with, although I still have a painfully long way to go. I’ll be sure to update with some pictures when I get to a point where I’ve got something more than random scraps of wood lying around.

-- -- Marvin, Dover Air Force Base, Delaware

11 comments so far

View Obi's profile


2214 posts in 5520 days

#1 posted 03-07-2007 05:03 AM

First of all, Welcome, and we can help. You have just enetered into the world of Wood. We all have an addiction to sticks, and most of us have wives that are enablers. Woodworkers Annonamous. (sp)

First of all we need to get you to make a nice item that youe wife will love and it is cheap to make with your existing tools.

Tell us exactly what you got, and we will figure out what you can build for less than 20, 50, $100

Picture frames are a good start but they require a router usually.

View Karson's profile


35279 posts in 5684 days

#2 posted 03-07-2007 05:19 AM

Or come down to my shop and we’ll pump something out. Using Obi as a consultant of course.

I’m a good excuse. You can go home and say, “You should see all of the stuff that Karson has. I only need half of that!” You’ll be in like Flin (whoever he was)

You can see the pictures of my workshop.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

View scottb's profile


3648 posts in 5610 days

#3 posted 03-07-2007 06:03 AM

Life is so much easier on paper… I’d spent a couple weekends sketching out (full scale drafting style drawings) and was pleased with the dimensions, proportions, etc… until I realized one crucial mistake. Noted that in huge letters (Add 2” to this measurement) and of course when it was time for cutting and assembly I couldn’t see it. and had to reengineer the project (too late to start over) and everything came out fine… Where theres a will, there’s a way… just might take longer, or push you to the edge…. but what a sense of accomplishment… Please share your photos. We come from all walks of woodworking life here.

My wife is probably in the same club as yours (oh, what’s this NEW idea your so excited about.) She’ll eventually get on board if you can show her your serious, and this isn’t just another flash in the pan – like all my other attempts at “finding my medium”. I’m sure my wife is so sick of “all I need is….” Nothing like a $$ tool purchase to justify a couple “free” Christmas presents!

-- I am always doing what I cannot do yet, in order to learn how to do it. - Van Gogh -- --

View dennis mitchell's profile

dennis mitchell

3994 posts in 5598 days

#4 posted 03-07-2007 06:30 AM

Another stop for the blue collar cabinetry tour.

View Obi's profile


2214 posts in 5520 days

#5 posted 03-07-2007 06:55 AM

All its going to take is one project that she likes and you’ll have her permission.

Keep it simple, keep it cheap and then she will MAKE you build all the expensive stuff and she will ok the purchase of the tools.

View Shawn's profile


225 posts in 5437 days

#6 posted 03-07-2007 07:39 AM

Welcome aboard Varilith, my wife was similar, now, I have to build a full on buffet and hutch for her, just keep plugging away, designing is hard, BUT, also the most rewarding part of what we do, so keep at it.

-- Cheers

View MsDebbieP's profile


18619 posts in 5444 days

#7 posted 03-07-2007 01:50 PM

the boys here have a huge list of ways to get wives supporting the purchase of new tools.

Hmmmm perhaps the list should have it’s own site, just like the “you know you’re a lumberjock when…”
it could be called…. “A LumberJock will get his wife’s permission, when… “

-- ~ Debbie, Canada (, Young Living Wellness )

View Obi's profile


2214 posts in 5520 days

#8 posted 03-07-2007 03:58 PM

Excellent Idea Debbie.

No 1. A LumberJock will get his wife’s permission, when… he asks her what she thinks is the best looking finish
No 2. A LumberJock will get his wife’s permission, when… he makes her something that is really beautiful or better yet, makes something really beautiful that he sells to somebody else.

View Bill's profile


2579 posts in 5445 days

#9 posted 03-07-2007 07:38 PM

Sounds like a good start so far Ver. The slow and steady pace will probably win her over, especially when you complete a few things for around the house (shelves, toy box, garden bench, etc.).

-- Bill, Turlock California,

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 5383 days

#10 posted 03-08-2007 02:02 AM

Thanks for the feedback on my project and now I’m going to throw in my 2 bits for you.
My #1 house rule is this: “When momma’s happy everybody’s happy”. So your concern is not unfounded. I have been blessed with a wife that is incredibly supportive of my endeavors. Anyone that I have ever met that is successful at this, will tell you the same.

Concerning your wood choices. I have never found pine to be very stable, the knots bleed out constantly, and to get stable, clear pine is expensive. Cedar is not cheap, not in Montana anyways. I really have taken a liking to poplar. It is inexpensive as far as wood goes, it is stable, and works beautifully. If you stay away from the pieces that have too deep of a color, when it comes to the green, purple and black streaks, you can stain it and get a beautiful product. The darker the streaks, the heavier bodied the stain you need to go. I use Sherwin Williams pro stains that dry in 15 to 30 minutes. I have mixed poplar and maple scraps on small projects and after using the cherry stain you can’t tell the difference. If you need to seal bleeding knots use dewaxed Zinsser shellac and that way you can put almost any finish over it.

Your knowledge will compound itself at an increasing rate if you keep at your projects.
You will soon go to your shop with a rough idea for a project and know exactly the steps needed to execute it. Good Luck and Welcome to the Club.

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View Karson's profile


35279 posts in 5684 days

#11 posted 03-08-2007 02:13 AM

Todd: I buy the Purple and black streaked wood. I’ve got some 23” wide planks that look like ebony. Solid black and I’ve some other pieces that are purple, brown, black and even a little robin egg blue splattered in.

My plans were to make a kitchen table out of it. But not sure now, Different house and I need to build all new cabinets. So we will see what fits in.

-- I've been blessed with a father who liked to tinker in wood, and a wife who lets me tinker in wood. Appomattox Virginia [email protected]

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