1.20.2011

Build-It-Yourself: Sewing Table

So I suppose I should probably get around to detailing how my last weekend of projects went before this next weekend sneaks up on me. Having Mondays off = lots of time for fun projects, but not enough time in the next week to blog about them. So, here's a fast recap.

Joe picked refinishing the dining table and reorganizing the bedroom as his top two projects for the week. How did it go? Well, we definitely revamped our bedroom, but the table project got pushed to another weekend when I ran into some major problems with building my sewing table. As for my projects, I got two out of the three done. I ended up skipping out on my ReStore time this weekend because of the sewing table problems, um, and the fact that it's winter and rains a lot where I live. I'll save the paint buyig and using for a later (warmer) date.

Now, back to that sewing table. When I first saw this table at Ana-White.com, I was so excited! We live in a small two bedroom townhouse so extra space is hard to come by and furniture that doesn't serve at least three purposes is out of the question. Because this table is expandable it fit all my criteria for a perfect craft table/extra dining table when we need one.


Since it was cheaper, I ended up skipping out on the hardwood plywood and picking up some MDF from Lowe's. MDF is a fiberboard (that means it's basically sawdust and an adhesive pressed into a 4'x8' sheet) that builds just about like plywood but can cost significantly less. My sheet was about $10 cheaper than the equivalent sheet of plywood, however, as I soon learned, building with MDF can be a trade-off. Sure you save some money, but you also end up with one h-e-a-v-y piece of furniture (thank God, this table is on wheels). This is because MDF is significantly more dense than your average piece of plywood and doesn't have a whole lot of give. A lot of woodworking websites don't advise screwing into MDF because of this density, since the tiny shavings that come off when you're putting a screw in really have no way to compress into the rest of the board and can often split it. I used a Kreg Jig for my project and didn't have any problems with splitting, but I would advise you to pre-drill every hole before you try to put any screws in and to use glue (which I never do with the Kreg Jig and wood).

Here's what I started with. See all my pocket holes there on the left? Oh, and yes, I was building inside and that is an old shower liner on the floor. It was raining outside. What is that saying about deserate times?


For the most part the project came together like it should. Our only significant setback was that I had Lowe's cut all of our boards since we don't have a space/car large enough to support a 4'x8' piece of MDF (not to mention there is no way I would have been capable of getting that big thing into the house). Unfortunately, we had two boards whose cuts weren't perfectly straight, a fairly typical Lowe's problem. I didn't discover this until about halfway through the project, at which point I put it on hold until Joe could come home and brainstorm solutions with me. The angled cut was causing the whole thing to be off square, meaning that none of the corners were making right angles and it looked like everything was leaning to the left. The kicker was I had already screwed and GLUED the offending pieces together. Ugh.

Doesn't it look so unassuming in this picture? You would never guess that Joe and I were going to spend the next four hours trying to fix the problem and at one point involve a hair dryer, squirt bottle, screwdriver and hammer to pry the whole thing apart.


Eventually we realized that the only option was to start fresh by undoing all of the work I had already done. Going into the project knowing that some of the cuts were off made it easier to compensate for the problem earlier in the building and we did eventually get an almost perfectly square box (the middle shelf is about three degrees off of level, but no one will ever know).

Here's me, blowdrying the water off of our MDF after we pried it apart. For future reference, water and heat can often help soften wood glue (we were using Titebond) and let you get a joint apart.


All in all, the project was a lot of learning, but very worth it. I can't wait to get the table finished and ready to sew on! Now to pick paint colors. Any suggestions?

1 comment:

  1. Hurrah!! It looks great :) and a great learning experience. such a cool table!

    ReplyDelete