Beginnings etc.

So my best friend Sean got married last September. And so our story begins. He chose me as one of the best men, and so I decided to start a project to work on while I was writing the speech. Something I wouldn’t have to think about too much while I contemplated love, life and all of the hilarious things I’d borne witness to during my time knowing Sean. I’d never built a table before, so I thought that might make a good project. 
As the date drew nearer, I realized that I’d have to get a wedding gift for this, the day of my best friend’s wedding. They were registered at Urban Barn, so I went to check out their registry. As luck would have it, they (and by that I mean Mel, his fiance) had chosen a beautiful rustic pine table for their registry. I balked at the cost. And then I balked at the quality of the construction. And then things began to take on a life apart from myself: an obsession. Conjured from my inflated belief in my own abilities and my lack of nine hundred dollars, I committed to build this same table. But better (inflated egos, etc.). 
So, with a rough draft to take measurements from and an idea of what they (Mel) wanted to suit their new home, I set out on a long, arduous journey. 
Having never built anything to completion, I read and read about joinery and furniture construction. I bought some lumber (from Home Depot, foolishly) and began the process. The following photos show steps 890-900. I didn’t bother to take pics at first because I didn’t want evidence if I failed miserably. 
Framed table base. The legs are four pine 1x4s laminated together. The joints are (inside to out): butt joint, through-mortise, butt joint for spans, and partially mitred faces. These were all glued and clamped, then planed, sanded, and glued to the joists and spans.
The table top was glued and biscuit-joined to prevent twisting.
Glued and clamped partial top.
Because I’d never done this before, naturally there were things I missed. Like flattening the top before I attached it to the base. So, hand planing began. Knowing very little, I used a five inch bench plane. Not the right tool for the job, and I learned that over the seven hours I spent hand planing it flat.
Here’s a detail shot of the partial mitre joint on the faces of the legs. Note the plane shavings. They were everywhere.
Finished planing, ready for polyurethane.
Upside down tables are hilarious.
This is after three coats of stain. I did my best to match the one on their gift registry, but it turned out a bit lighter. I like the gold accents in the grain. But maybe that’s just me.
A final (four rounds of) sanding on the table top and it was ready for stain, etc.
Stain and four coats of polyurethane later, I had a table.
Luckily, I was able to pull it off, and it made for an easy wedding speech. The short version is: I grew up around a kitchen table learning about love, life and communication from my parents. I hope that this table will be around to help Sean and Mel and their future children (or just their weiner dog) learn to laugh, talk, cry, compromise, and learn from one another at this table.
It taught me a lot about the patience required to build something meaningful, the value of the intentions behind one’s work, and the payoff that comes from completing something you never thought you’d be able to do in the first place. That’s a good feel, man.

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