I am participating in the Blogging Over Breakfast 2×4 challenge. The challenge is to make something out of 2x4s – that’s the only lumber you can use. You can use handles, knobs, embellishments, or connectors out of any other material, but 2x4s are the only lumber that can be used.
I decided to make a sofa table for our family room.
I’ll explain more about why a sofa table in the family room in the big reveal post on Monday – click HERE for the big reveal of the table – but today I thought I’d share with you how this was nearly a #DIYFail. I’m telling you: halfway through this project, I was ready to scrap the project altogether.
DIY doesn’t always go as planned. Yes, I write about it and try to present it in a pretty, informative, here’s-how-you-do-it way, but the truth is that there are roadblocks and problems and you have to improvise, adapt, and overcome sometimes.
And that happens to everyone. Even DIY bloggers who do this all the time.
This week’s Friday Five: How NOT to Build a Sofa Table
(Or, for that matter, any table.)
This is my advice for what NOT to do when building a table. (Don’t worry – on Monday, I’ll share what TO do!)
(1) Don’t check your tools and materials before getting started.
Let me set the stage:
It had finally stopped raining after four solid days of rain. I jumped for joy, then packed up all of my materials and headed down to the work shed. That’s where I keep my miter saw.
I got all set up. I measured the wood for my first cut, I put the wood on the miter stand and…
The miter saw wouldn’t go. Dead as a doornail.
Must be the battery, I thought. Checked the battery and it was charged. Hmph.
My poor dead miter saw. I love my RYOBI miter saw. I need my miter saw. It’s my favorite saw (don’t tell the others!).
Moral of the story: check all of your tools and materials BEFORE you start. Make a list of everything you need for the project before you start, then gather those materials. Check the tools to make sure they work and, if needed, that the batteries are charged. That way, when you get everything together and you’re ready to go, you are really ready to go!
So, what did I do?
I got out my RYOBI circular saw. I knew it would make the cuts, but it would be less precise than my miter saw. I’d have to be very careful and steady. Which brings me to my next point…
(2) Measure once, cut twice.
Have you heard the DIY adage, “Measure twice, cut once”?
THERE IS A REASON THIS IS A FAMOUS SAYING.
I measured the boards. I did double check the first one, but then I got
cocky confident and didn’t measure the other three twice. Just did those once.
I cut the boards. Three were 30 inches long, as planned. One board was 1/8th inch shorter than the other three.
Now, to be fair, I am guessing that my using the circular saw rather than the miter saw was the main cause of the discrepancy. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.
Moral of the story: check all measurements before you cut. Then cut as precisely as possible. Measure twice, cut once.
(3) Don’t use a level or square.
When building something like a table – you know, something you expect to remain upright – you need to use a level and a square to make sure everything is straight.
I cut all my wood, laid it out on the table, and figured I could tell if the wood pieces were square just by sight. I screwed the pieces together and ended up with this…
Right. The middle piece is level with the left side but not with the right.
Moral of the story: use a level and a square and clamps to make sure that you are building right. You can’t eyeball it.
And, note, you can’t always use the edge of the wood as a guide for level or square. The cut edge isn’t always square. Usually I trim the ends of the wood off to make sure I have a square, clean edge. But I usually do this with my miter saw (see #1, above). Sigh.
(4) Build in a Hurry.
Building in a hurry always gets me in trouble. I think: “I can just do this project before I pick up the kids from school… in 45 minutes.” HA.
It never goes well when this happens. Inevitably, I make mistakes or skip steps. Then I have to figure out how to fix it.
Give yourself plenty of time to build: to measure (twice), cut precisely, and enjoy the ride. (Building is fun!)
(5) Build Hungry.
This might just be a me thing, but I don’t do anything well when I’m hungry. Or “hangry” as it sometimes happens.
Before I finally settled on a design for the legs of this table, I drew and re-drew the design of it four or five times. Nothing was working. And once I settled on what I thought was a good design, I couldn’t quite figure out how to make it work well.
Then it occurred to me. I hadn’t eaten in hours. I was loopy.
One turkey sandwich later and I had table legs.
As it turned out, I did pretty well with this build. I fixed the problems I caused (although my miter saw is still dead, just like Francisco Franco) and I ended up with a level, square table!
And that’s the BIG moral of this story. If you don’t do any of these bad things and do do the good ones, you will be fine. DIY is fun but also challenging, and that is part of the fun. As I said in this post, DIY is a logic game, and anyone who says otherwise isn’t doing it right.
Want to see the finished table? CLICK HERE!