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Showcase cover image for First "real" project

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I recently enrolled the "Digital Arts and Communications" program at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. Yes, I am a computer geek kind of guy, however, the academy offers many other courses in more practical art and one of them was "Furniture Construction."

This was a really great class and throughout the semester every student build their own table design.

I learned quite a lot, as I had never before used professional tools to build a piece of furniture.

I designed the table with Google Sketchup, which I think is great for designing furniture.

The class was provided with soft maple wood to work with, any other wood we needed to get on our own. I chose "Brazilian Cherry" for the table top, as I wanted to have a nice contrast in wood colors. The difference of these two woods, especially in hardness, is tremendous. My teachers were very concerned that they might "work against each other" and that the glued on top may not stay on well. It has stayed just fine after one year now.

The only thing I did not like about this project was the finishing. One teacher, the rather "old school" teacher, recommended waxing, the other "The Good Stuff." I ended up using "The Good Stuff" but, although it looks pretty good, I wish I had used wax. The finish scratches easily, and I don't know how long I have before I need to re-apply some finish again. The product also seems a bit nasty, I will definitely try more natural products for the next project.

For a "first" I think it turned out quite nice. I actually want to try to take the class again and build a couple of furniture pieces for my new place, a 1906 house that I am currently remodeling.

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Comments

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Looks really nice. Finishing a project is an art in and of itself. It will come with time
 

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wow…llooks wonderful…WELCOME TO LJ's Neighbor!!!!
 

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NICE JOB..A GOOD WAY TO START IN WOOD WORKING…THE OLD SCHOOL GUY KNEW WHAT HE WAS SAYING..MAYBE DONT BE SO FAST TO DISCOUNT THE OLD SCHOOL…THAT IS WHERE TRIED AND TRUE EXPERIANCE PAYS OFF…MAYBE THINK OF ADDING SOME OF THE CHERRY INTO THE LEG SYSTEM…MAYBE CAP THE ENDS OF THE LEGS WITH CHERRY..IT WILL BRING OUT THE LEGS MORE…JUST A SUGGESTION…GRIZZMAN
 

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A beautiful table, craftsmanship looks excellant and the design is awsome!
 

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Nice job, man!

I know the feeling of regretting a finish… we put polycrylic on our wide-plank flooring. That's something I would never do that again. :)

But I think your project turned out really nice!
 

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i think it looks cool, and unique, good job. welcome to LJ's
 

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table looks great…..neat design and I really like the different wood colors…well done
 

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Good job. I like the asymmetric tabletop. Look great. Congratulations.
 

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Welcome to LJ's. Great looking table….Really like the way you did the top.
 

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Thank you for all the nice comments, it's really encouraging.

I really should have listened to the "old guy" and his advice to finish the table with wax and ? (don't remember what else he suggested). However, the table is not used heavily, and so far the finish is holding up quite well. I just have to remember to be careful when cleaning the table.

It's a nice idea to add some of the dark wood to the legs as well. As this was my first real project, I did not want to make it too complicated though. I am sure my next one will be more challenging though, especially because I got really into Greene & Greene designs.

For my next finishing job, I want to try Don Kon's "secret mix" (http://lumberjocks.com/donkon/blog/2690)-it sounds fairly easy but effective. I actually will try it on an old door that I am currently restoring. I think I will post some images of this project tomorrow…
 

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Hey DrTebi,
Strong, well built, nice design and good finish….well done.
 

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Very nice unique looking table. And it's your first project? Can't wait to see what your second one will look like. Maybe you should have gone into Functional Industrial Design! Great job DrTebi!
 

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Thank you Elin, that's a nice comment. Believe it or not, I am thinking about changing my major, in order to do more "hands on" projects and design and build furniture. I am still a "baby" but will making little steps one at a time :)
 

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Very nice design and great execution, there Dr. Tebi. If you want to know a good way for beginners to get a great finish without investing in a spray booth, you might look at FW articles by finishing expert, Jeff Jewitt. I've used variations of his approach for a while and it almost always turns out great. You take fast-drying polyurethane and thin it about 1:1 with turpentine, add a drop or so of "Japan dryer" and put the mixture in a squeeze bottle with a cap. Wear a pair of latex or neoprene gloves, and fold up a paper towel into a rectangle about 3×4" and squeeze some of your thinned finish onto it and wipe it onto the wood. Refold or change the paper towel if it becomes worn to avoid leaving any paper lint on the project. You want to get an even, but thin film of liquid onto the surface. Don't try to put too much on at one time. That way, the film will dry quickly and any dust or debris floating about has less chance of settling onto a wet surface. A great finish isn't built in a day. Plan to do this over a week or so. Each day, lightly scuff sand the previous day's work with fine (say 320 grit) sandpaper, and remove the sanding dust with compressed air, or a soft brush and a vacuum, then go over it with a cloth to make sure you've got all the dust off it before applying the next layer of finish. After about 4 or 5 coats in 4 or 5 days, you'll have a great looking finish. Let it cure for a while (2 weeks is not too long) then rub some paste wax onto it with 0000 steel wool, and buff.
 

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Dear Steve,

thank you for the comment on finishing. It sounds good, however I am a bit skeptical about the use of polyurethane-in terms of health issues. It will probably turn out beautiful and extremely strong, but I must admit I am leaning towards natural finishes. That's why I was very interested in Don Kon's "secret mix"-not everything in this mix is completely natural either, but most of it is from what I can see.

As others mentioned before, finishing wood is an art in itself. Since I am still "a baby," I will have to make my own experiences and will certainly keep your suggestion on the top of my list. Thank you for the detailed comment!
 

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It's a little funky and off. I like it!
 

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DrTebi I am sorry I missed lookig your project earlier. After your comment on my project I went back to search your projects and felt very bad for missing your first table that has come out so nice The contrasting top is superb. The finishing tricks you will learn with experience.
Sharad
 

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Thank you Shared for your kind words. I actually have experimented with a few different finishing techniques lately, and am now very fond of using Linseed Oil, Shellac, and Wax. These are really easy to apply, bring out the beauty of the wood, and are also quite "green" finishes.

I am just about to finish a Greene & Greene style coffee table, it only needs another layer of Shellac and then wax. I will post pictures soon.
 
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