Office Storage Bench
After a very long time, I've finally finished the woodworking aspect of the storage bench in Gina's office. Between the start and end of the project, we worked on a couple small projects, I played a lot of videogames, and we got married. Some of that was procrastination, some of it was just being overwhelmed with other stuff to do. Over the end-of-year holiday I finally felt relaxed and free enough to tackle the remainder of the project.
While mocking out this project, I started exploring some of the plugins that exist for SketchUp, and took Twilight Render for a whirl. The goal of the plugin is to create photorealistic renders of your models. With a lot of tweaking, getting the lights in just the right places, and adding the necessary textures, you can get a much better idea of what the finished product will look like. A lot of the process was ramping up on new software/settings, and it's much less painful with models I draft now.
The bench is essentially just a box with a wainscoting on top, similar to what some people have in a dining room. The box is constructed out of MDF for it's smooth, consistent appearance, but after two large and very heavy projects, I think I am done with MDF. I could imagine it for small projects, but the amount of dust it produces, having to use oil-based primer, and just the sheer heaviness of the wood is all pretty frustrating.
With a built box, now I could frame the "windows" on each side. When I went to Home Depot, all they had was the thicker of the inner trim moulding, so I used 3/4" MDF here as well. This only added more to the weight of the bench. I didn't do anything fancy other than butt joints here for each piece since it was going to be painted (obviously). This did result in a lot of plastic wood to fill in the gaps though.
Since Home Depot was also out of the natural trim, I grabbed the pre-primed stuff (this probably actually saved me some time). I primed the box, and then attached the trim so I wouldn't unnecessarily prime the trim. I probably should've done a better job here sanding the end grain of the MDF since it was a pain later on to not let that show in the finish coat.
At this point, I had already painted one side of the "top" for this, but was really nervous it was going to sag over time with it just being MDF. I picked up some poplar and ripped it down to 1x3/4 and used that as an edging for the MDF top and also gave it a bit of rigidity. I'm still pretty nervous it'll sag in the middle, but ideally it won't be as bad as with just MDF. There (hopefully) won't be much consistent weight on the lid like shelves, so I'm betting it will be alright. I used the Benjamin Moore Advanced series paint again on this project. I really love how the paint looks when finished, but it takes an extremely long time between coats and has a really long cure time. Since I'm so slow at these projects (:D) it tends to work out alright for me, but if I could do more than a single coat of paint per day, that'd be awesome.
The bench in action! We opted to use bench hinges versus something like a piano hinge since they come with springs that reduce the overall weight of the lid considerably. Back to the reasons not to use MDF, that lid was almost too much for me to carry around by myself. We were able to fill the bench with bins from Home Depot that (luckily) managed to just fit with a little extra room for small boxes that we had previously. The project, again, took far too long, but there was a lot going on the last year and I did manage to build the planter in between stages.
Now that the woodworking is done... time to try my hand at another craft. We visited Lorraine Fabrics in Pawtucket, RI and picked up a foam pad and some fabric. As a little test, I sewed a pillow cover using the fabric. Where woodworking (for me) is simple 90 degree edges, working with fabric is a whole different thing. I haven't sewed anything since I was probably thirteen, so I'm optimistically terrified of the remainder of this project.