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If you’re a regular reader of Editor Christopher Schwarz’s blog, you know that Chris likes good food and good beer almost as much as he likes his Lie-Nielsen No. 7 (and animal similes). A few weeks ago, he was sampling the gustatory offerings of a local establishment when he met a husband and wife team of food bloggers, Laura and David Arnold. They write Cincinnati Nomerati, of which Chris is an ardent follower. So they got to talking, and Laura mentioned she’d like to find a picnic table for use as a dining room table in their hip downtown loft. Chris said, “Let’s build one!” (I’m sure this had nothing to do with what he’d been sampling at the bar.)

We’ve been meaning to build a picnic table for the “I Can Do That” column, and the scenario presented an excellent opportunity to investigate our claim that the ICDT projects are simple enough (but still handsome!) to be built in a weekend (at the most) by a beginning woodworker with a good set of tools and a basic set of skills. So last Saturday, Laura and David came to the shop, and together, we built a picnic table and two benches to match. In one day.

The day began with a lesson in basic skills , how to properly and safely use a miter saw, jigsaw and drill/driver. An hour later, we got started on the project, and at the halfway point, it was heartening to see Laura and David’s marked increase in confidence and excitement as their skills improved and the table started to come together.

Then the cordless drills started to fade (and I couldn’t find our lone corded tool). In the past, we’ve written about the prodigious number of drills we have in the shop , so many that the last time we did a thorough shop cleaning (April 2009), we held a contest to guess how many there were. The answer: 29. We’ve since gotten rid of some of those, but I suspect, with the influx of 12-volt drill/drivers from last December’s test (which you can read online, free), that we’re still hovering somewhere around the 30 mark.

You know what happens when you have too many drills? You neglect to keep them charged , and you blithely set aside a tool with a dead battery, and simply pick up one that’s ready to go. Well, in the push to get the project done, by 2 p.m. we had one person drilling holes for the bolts, and two people driving screws. By 3 p.m., we were down to one drill, and had to keep switching out drill bits and drivers. That’s when we remembered these handy little devices called chargers. And gosh do we appreciate the 30-minute charge time.

At 3:30, we had a few batteries juiced up, and we managed to get the build done just in time for Chris to scurry home for his wife’s birthday party.

Laura and David will be back soon to put a coat of paint or two on the table and bench bases, and a clear coat on the bench seating surfaces. And to do it properly, we’ll have to take the table and benches apart for sanding and finishing. In preparation, I plan to charge every drill in the shop…if only I could find all the chargers (did I mention we haven’t cleaned properly since last April?).
– Megan Fitzpatrick

p.s. Laura Arnold will be writing about the project, and perhaps about her first encounter with a miter saw, in the June issue of Popular Woodworking Magazine, and we’ll be sharing video that Drew DePenning shot throughout the day.

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Showing 3 comments
  • megan

    The June issue will mail to subscribers in mid-April, and will be on newsstands in early May. So yes!

  • A J Johnson

    Will the ICDT picnic table be in print prior to the summer picnic season?

  • Charles

    I don’t see why a power drill was even being used. Were Laura and David unaware that they were in the presence of speed boring master champion? No batteries necessary. ;-]

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