Small Ash/Oak ?bedside table with drawer

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Project by KnickKnack posted 02-20-2011 03:25 PM 3818 views 5 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A couple of weeks ago I was pretty ill. And the weather was bad. And I was a bit down about the whole woodworking thing (I’ve been here before and the general consensus was that I should give it up, but that’s not my thing). I’d spent a couple of hours in the “shop”, and nothing had gone right.
So I sat down against the storage heater (it was cold too), had a couple of glasses of Absinthe, and set about trying to have a critical analysis of what my woodworking was all about – why I was doing it, why I wasn’t doing it very well, and why I wasn’t happy with it. And, perhaps most importantly, why I wasn’t getting any better at it. Our cats joined me but didn’t really help much.
Too many things came up to list them here, but one of the most important was that I was CSI – Careless, Sloppy and Impatient (and you thought that was a TV series) – all with big bold capital letters. I trial fitted things before I put them together, and, if they didn’t fit, I told myself they would when I added glue and the time pressure was on. Doh! At the end of every day I used to say to myself “What have I learnt today” – and I came up with the right things, and then did the same stupid stuff again the next day. My strategies seemed to be “use a big mallet” and, as poopiekat put it so well “sand the hell out of it later”.

Anyways, I decided to try to make something a little more “normal”, to not try to avoid difficulties in things like joints, to spend that extra time shaving, sanding and mostly thinking before I proceeded to the next step. And this is what I came up with.
It certainly isn’t perfect, and there are some design flaws that I’d fix if I ever made another one, but, for me, this represents a giant leap forward in terms of quality of construction. You’d need a football team of octopi to count the times I stopped myself from “just pressing on”, which is good, but, alas, some still slipped through.

Ash and fumed oak. Oil/varnish/thiner finish.

All criticisms, thoughts, comments, suggestions etc – most welcome.

-- "Do not speak – unless it improves on silence." --- "Following the rules and protecting the regulations is binding oneself without rope."

11 comments so far

View Tag84's profile


573 posts in 3621 days

#1 posted 02-20-2011 03:54 PM

I really like those different kind of woods in the front, i recognize your story not feeling enough energy because of the circumstances, but go on!!
very nice bedside table :)

-- -Thomas -

View AaronK's profile


1512 posts in 4429 days

#2 posted 02-20-2011 04:08 PM

nice work. i need a firm CSI lesson too!

so I can make out the drawer joinery (i know your fondness for splines!) but how is the carcass joined? can you tell more specifically about how THIS project is more well-constructed than others?

View nebulous's profile


53 posts in 4092 days

#3 posted 02-20-2011 04:26 PM

Your projects are awesome, and this is no exception. You certainly have an eye for atypical design and an ability to make it work.

Seriously, I can’t imagine anyone telling you ‘give it up’. Focus mainly on the good stuff in your descriptions here, and see how few people will recognize the flaws that are in your (and everyone’s) projects.

View Ken90712's profile


17919 posts in 4153 days

#4 posted 02-20-2011 05:55 PM

Very intersting post. First the project looks great. One thing I would consider that a fellow lumber jock taught me, is using epoxy to fill in the knots. Once hardened sand it smooth. I have been adding color to the epoxy as well.

You have to realize your not alone with the struggles of woodworking. Most all of us struggle with getting in a hurry and have to remind ourselves to slow down and take our time.

Yesterday I started making an Entertainment Center And was making the sides ( with 2 raised panels ) the center stile for some reason was loose made it 2 more times same result. I went to the shower cleaned up went to woodcraft ( makes me feel better spending money LOL ) & took Blondie to dinner. Today I will get it right. Some days we all need to step away. Keep working on the CSI, look fwd to seeing your next post!

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Woodwrecker's profile


4240 posts in 4540 days

#5 posted 02-20-2011 06:38 PM

Your designs are really cool.
Thanks for posting this.

View patcollins's profile


1687 posts in 3829 days

#6 posted 02-20-2011 06:47 PM

I like your use of splines to put the drawer together, looks like things fit well to me.

View steliart's profile


2895 posts in 3653 days

#7 posted 02-20-2011 07:22 PM

very nice looking table

-- Stelios L.A. Stavrinides: - I am not so rich to buy cheap tools, but... necessity is the mother of inventions !!!

View KnickKnack's profile


1099 posts in 4531 days

#8 posted 02-20-2011 08:48 PM

The horizontal oak parts of the carcass started as one plank, which i routed a long slot into, and then cut into 2 strips which I then tried to make identical.
The 4 legs started out as a single plank, into which I routed 3 slots exactly as wide as the oak horizontals, and exactly as deep half the oak.
Bear in mind that a router is my only precision tool so some of that sounds easier than it is. One of the key differences to my approach was to not measure – usually I measure and put on a square edge in the “right” place. This time I made a simple ”+” jig from MDF and used that – by cutting into the jig I could tell exactly where the slot would be. This was a first – something sacrificial – what a great idea! This allowed me to “sneak up” on the exact width. Imagine my smile when I pushed the oak bit in – no mallet required, and it didn’t wobble! I should have fumed the oak after it had all been made, but I hadn’t, which made “sanding down” the oak not an option – an error but it imposed serious discipline on what I could “make do” at.
I was supposed to have put a bit of “shape” on the legs before I glued the oak in – but it was all going so well I forgot!
Now the “I” in CSI stepped in – I happened to have a square profile bit of oak, and it was the same width as where it would need to fit, so I “just used” that – it’s hard work to make a flat, jointed bit of wood. Being square though there wasn’t a lot of surface to surface available. The nagging “I” whispered in my ear that, in fact, those bits weren’t structural – the top and bottom were the keys. True, but still wrong – they should have been wider planks. I made them, and I knew it was wrong, but I “pressed on” and doweled them. I’d been several days on the thing by now, and the “I” was starting to win. I know people spend weeks/months/years on things, but I really can’t imagine that for me, yet.
The top has 4 dowels, but just for location – there’s a lot of good grain to good grain contact.
Did I describe how the carcass was made there – sorry, I kinda went off on a tangent.

-- "Do not speak – unless it improves on silence." --- "Following the rules and protecting the regulations is binding oneself without rope."

View AaronK's profile


1512 posts in 4429 days

#9 posted 02-20-2011 08:59 PM

AHH i got it, those darker bits are end grain. yes, thank you!

View floroworld's profile


9 posts in 3808 days

#10 posted 02-23-2011 12:41 AM

wow… a drawer, uber impressed, a giant leap forward we reckon.

View .'s profile


76 posts in 4762 days

#11 posted 03-17-2011 01:38 AM

Independent of my impressions of the piece, I was much more interested to hear you describe the reflection that you took on your woodworking in general. Traditionally, woodworkers worked in tandem with others. Generally, they had a teacher/apprentice relationship. As society advanced we moved into a teacher/classroom structure. Now we have taken that even further with intensive studies like the 12-week program at the Center for Furniture Craftsmanship in Maine.

However, many of us instead use resources like this website, magazines, television, internet and dvd video instruction and the like as our learning medium. The problem with that pursuit is that it is one-dimensional. We’re peering into a window looking at someone else with whom we cannot engage.

Learning studies have shown that for many, skills like that of woodworking are learned best through a multi-faceted approach typically consisting of lecture/demonstration, followed by instruction, followed by trial/error and correction. Finally, practicing the corrected methods produce consistent success. We lack that give and take by only viewing others and then trying it ourselves. It’s in the correction and coaching that we learn best.

So, I’ve found that this was the hurdle to overcome for myself as you’ve described here. You provided some correction of your own, and it shows in the work. Good on you.

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