For the last couple weeks, we were scrambling to get ready for Woodworking in America. Now, we’re scrambling to get all the in-house stories written, and the freelance stories in, edited and designed for the December issue, for which the binder read-through is this Thursday.
And I had to scramble to get the I Can Do That project completed in time for a photo shoot last Thursday. The shoot was supposed to be on Tuesday. I pushed it to Wednesday. On Wednesday morning, I begged our photographer for an hour of his time on Thursday. Early Thursday morning, I did a final touch-up to the finish, let it dry, then re-installed the hinges. I was fairly certain on Thursday morning we’d get the shoot done. But I wasn’t wiling to bet the farm.
Why? The entire build was a comedy of errors, complete with twins – well, that was the intent, anyway.
The project is a “gent’s chest” (a small tool chest meant to hold household tools such as screwdrivers, a hammer and the like) that I adapted from a little antique chest I borrowed from a friend. The plan was that they look as much alike as dimensional lumber would allow, right down to the pleasing deep brown color.
You may notice in the photo above that the box in the foreground is green – not quite the color of the antique in the background. But that wasn’t my only mishap.
I nailed the basic box together before the conference, and by the time I got back to it last Monday, I’d forgotten that I didn’t have enough trim to complete it. So I scurried to my local home center for more “outside L,” only to find there was apparently a run on it over the last couple weeks. They were out. Monday night, I drove to the other side of town in search of trim, and finally found it at the third store I visited (so of course, in a panic, I bought far too much).
Finally, outside L in hand, I headed for the miter saw on Tuesday. Not an easy trip – especially as many times as I had to go back and forth to fit three corners on the top and all four on the bottom. We got our shipment back from the WIA conference Tuesday; every cut at the saw meant squeezing between pallets of books to get to the machine. (Plus, I was constantly moving stuff and reframing my step photos so the WIA mess doesn’t show up in the magazine.)
With the box finally completed (or so I thought), I pulled out my trusty gel stain, which had never before failed me on pine. This time, it failed spectacularly. I got an ugly, muddy mess that looked like, well, crap (you can still see it on the inside of the box). So much for copying the inspiration. I had to resort to paint. “Man green” it is.
While waiting for the stain to fully dry before applying paint, I realized I’d left off the top decorative 1/2″-thick piece that mimics a raised panel. So in order to plane those angles, I reached for my trusty block plane (there’s no panel-raising plane in the I Can Do That toolkit). And it wasn’t in my tool chest. I’d stashed my block plane in my purse while packing up at the conference (what? That’s not where you store yours?), then switched purses, and forgot to bring the plane back to work. So I had to go to the backup block plane, which first required a serious sharpening session.
Finally, all the pieces were in place. Two coats of paint and two days late, we got the shoot done.
But now I’m afraid to clean up my bench. Why? Well, there’s a quart of “man green” thereupon that I fear, in keeping with the rest of the build, will slip out of my hands then explode when it hits the floor. And I’m anxious about returning the antique to its owner – that’s just asking for a car wreck.
All of our I Can Do That projects are available free online – and so is our manual for the I Can Do That tool kit – if you’re registered at popularwoodworking.com (also free). These projects are perfect for getting beginners involved in the craft – and we hear they’re often used by youth organzations indluding the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to earn hand skill badges.