A couple more projects

Ladder

In our house, we have this little shelf almost 8 feet long and 3 feet wide. Rather than put up decorations, we decided to buy a cushion and make it a little sitting nook. Unfortunately, it is also almost five feet up and completely inaccessible. I couldn't find any strong, stable ladder to put there, so I built this out of oak. It's secured at the top with two metal L brackets that I bent to match the tilt of the ladder and the rungs are dadoed into the legs. Also, aren't those little gnomes just the best?

Desk

Gina was looking for a new desk since her IKEA corner desk had traveled between at least four different homes and was falling apart, so we decided to build one. I had never done any woodworking before, but was excited to try it out. She was looking for a taller desk, around counter height, so she could stand and work comfortably, or while sitting on a higher (drafting-like?) chair. We broke down multiple sheets of MDF and dadoed the pieces for necessary fits. Rather than paint after assembly, we painted the inner pieces first to save time and make it altogether easier.

Glueing the two cabinets up was incredibly painful. The number of pieces that had to come together made this much harder than a simple set of shelves. Between Gina, Gina's dad, and myself, we were still racing the clock trying to get glue on everything and assemble them. MDF loves to soak up glue. To make things more difficult, I had accidentally miscut all the middle pieces by an 1/8 of an inch, so when we tried putting on the back, it didn't sit flush to all of the pieces. In the end, to get rid of the bow in the back, I belt sanded down a lot of the MDF. If I did it again, I'm sure it would've come out better, but overall it was a tough glue up.

When adding the face frame, we had to use every clamp we had access to. The frame was placed on top of the existing MDF and butt jointed at the corners. Doing this again, I'd probably half-lap those pieces so they sit flush and hold eachother on with more glue surface between them, but this worked well enough. We were able to use scraps from the cabinets for the face frame.

Once we had the face frame on and primed, we added the trim. I prepainted this as well with two coats so after assembly I could do a quick coat to hide any putty to fill in nail holes. Rather than a simple, ordinary baseboard molding, we went for one with a design. It was harder to paint quickly, but gives it a unique look. For the upper molding, we flipped upside down base cap molding.

Finally we could put the desk "together" and see how it looked. We added a curtain made out of poplar to give some extra rigidity to the desk top. It was going to span a few feet, so we didn't want it to start to sag over time. Importantly, the curtain is only glued onto the top and not the cabinets so we can actually move the desk. We also rounded over the edges to soften the feel while working at the desk.

All of the work up till now was at Gina's parents house. When we got it to our garage, we painted the sides of the cabinets and top and bottom of the desk top. Every surface had at least one coat of primer and two coats of paint. The desk top had two coats of primer with heavy sanding after them to get the smoothest possible surface and finished with three coats of paint.

I'm actually missing a picture of the finished project where the face of the cabinets are painted as well. I'll include a picture when I post something about my current project!

I make a sketchup drawing for pretty much every project. Being able to see what I'm building before I actually start helps me make sure I know what I'm about to build. I learned how to use SketchUp in freshmen year of high school in a graphic design class. I struggle with traditional CAD and can't draw, so SketchUp is a nice middle ground.

Published on May 13, 2019
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