Sunday, December 13, 2009

Winter in Iowa

While Leila was gone at her sister's wedding, I was bored. Sometimes I complain that I don't get much done, but the truth is that I enjoy not getting anything done with Leila around. Much better than productivity while alone.

So, as part of my grand plan to keep myself busy, I searched the internet for plans for a workbench. I have pretensions of doing woodwork. There are a few things I learned again about myself in the process:

1. I cannot cut a straight line. No really. I measure twice, cut once, sand, cut again, sometimes with a new board.

2. I don't really like power tools. I much prefer hand tools. The kids can be in there playing while I work that way, and I cut crooked lines slower and have a better chance of correcting it before finishing.

3. I am an overacheiving perfectionist. If I could cut straight lines, I would dovetail every joint. But, I don't have a lot of patience with myself. I remember making pinewood derby cars when I was a kid. In my head I had a vision of this sleek, shiny car that would speed down the track. Instead in my awkward hands I usually had a rather blocky thing whose wheels fell off halfway down. When I start a project now I still have a platonic ideal of what I want in my head and when it begins to fall short I get frustrated with myself rather quickly.

4. I enjoy planning as much or more than the execution. I spent hours looking at pictures of peoples benches and plans on the internet. We looked through plans and designs and I tried to force myself to simplify my designs to something I could actually make.

5. I may not have all of the skills developed yet, but I can sure make stuff sturdy.

6. Working with Aleah is great for the ego. She continually says things like, "That looks gooood, Brian. That is a goooood cut." - As a side note, she still continually calls me Brian, instead of Dad.

The design I settled on was a simplified version of this bench:

I took the dimensions, put in butt joints instead of dovetails, designed a frame for the top instead of joined maple, removed the tool hollow, left room to add a bench vise, and planned to build it out of cheap lumber I could find at Menards. I decided to build the top out of 2.5" hardwood plywood. This is pricey stuff, but they make thick plywood planks for using as floor or roof joints. They are thick, heavy, full of resin, and seemed to be made of mostly hardwoods, and much much cheaper than even the 3/4" plywood. So I got a 10"x 12' board and cut it in half for the top.

I also found Spax lag screws. They are supposed to hold up to 5000 lbs of force and have serrated edges that are supposed to help drive them in and grip without splitting the wood. I was concerned and so still drilled guide holes. But, they sure hold tight.

So this is the finished bench:

From from phone

Here are the girls trying it out. Note, Emily in the future is likely to be embarrased by her hair here. In my defense, I did make her brush her hair while Leila was gone, and I did bathe them. She wears this hooded sweater nonstop and it kinda makes her head a static magnet.

From from phone

From from phone

Me with the fam, not getting work done while Leila was back:

From from phone


Leila said...

I see I need to leave more often :) love you!

Chris said...

Nothing has help my hand work more than a small miter box. They do miracles. (and are cheap)

Brian G. said...

I use one regularly, except on large pieces. I need a new one though. My old one was plastic and has gotten warn on the sides and doesn't quite go straight down anymore