Learn carpentry (Part one: making a table)

Finally after months of angst we have our own home; and I am going to become a legend at DIY. I have instructed Dave that he can have no part in my first project, it is to be an independent effort and a triumph of girl power. I am making a table. It is to be tall and long, and will create a study area in our hallway. It must cost considerably less than buying such a table. I have no prior experience of carpentry since I created a malformed duck at secondary school.

So. I have been foraging for materials and seeking advice. My first trip to Travis Perkins was inauspicious.
Er, I need some wood.
What for?
Making a table.
What is it going to be like?
Um. I don’t really know yet.
I think he found it difficult to know how best to help me. He showed me various pieces of wood, the price of which ruled them all out anyway, and suggested I draw a plan of the proposed table. I scurried off, feeling I had not come across in my best light.

So then I chatted to a few folk who know more of such matters than me. A vague design began to take shape. I measured the space in which it needs to fit. I estimated a height that would allow us to use the 3 chairs we already possess. I drew a picture.

The next time I ventured into Travis Perkins, thankfully there were different staff on duty. I spoke to another fatherly figure who was somewhat bemused by me. The prospect of a table 1.5m high stumped him. (I later realised that I had meant to say 1.05m, which would account for his confusion.) But, he introduced me to the off-cuts bin, and at last things began to make sense, price-wise at least. I returned home triumphant, with a bootful of fenceposts and other mismatched planks, for no greater outlay than a pocketful of change to their company charity. These, combined with the internal door that I had found in the garage loft would create my table for almost no cost at all. Perfect.

I got home with my spoils, and demonstrated the component parts to Dave. He scratched his head. ‘Mmmm. It’s hard to see how it won’t look a little bit shit’; were, I believe, his exact words of encouragement.
No matter. I was not to be discouraged. I erected the work bench by myself. I located a saw. I allowed him to offer me brief instruction in how to use the saw. I measured and I pencilled and I sawed and some legs took shape.

I trotted off to Screw Fix, and was offered an extraordinary amount of tuition for no cost at all, from a friendly chap who maintained a careful attitude of respect despite clearly doubting my capacities. ‘Are you, er, quite handy with a saw?’ he asked me. ‘Who knows?!’ I replied cheerfully. ‘I can’t see why I wouldn’t be…’ I may have discerned a hint of eye rolling at that point. But I came away with a sackful of screws, a much improved drawing, and a bottle of gorilla glue. The legs were going to need a little more work.

Next day I found the power tools. The day after that, Dave reluctantly agreed to show me how to use them. He clearly expects to find me dead when he returns from work.

But au contraire, I have spent a happy time sawing, and drilling, and screwing, and feeling generally delighted with myself.

Dave later pointed out that I was using most of the tools all wrong. The power drill was set to reverse, apparently, which hadn’t been helping. Even so, my progress was impressive. I have created 2 table ends, like this:
table leg
Then I put an extra support beneath the table top (aka door), ready for the support struts. If that is indeed what one calls them.

Eventually the table top was secured to the table ends… and then turned the right way up. The moment of truth. Would it stand up?

It did! Slight wobble. One more support strut thingy perhaps needed.

But, here we are, a week later, and this is what I have created.

It is neither neat, nor pretty. But it is functional, sturdy, almost free (£9 for gorilla glue and £6 for all the wood) and I have done it all by myself. I am delighted beyond measure.

Next up, we are going to create a tree house. Woo hoo!

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