Saturday, July 19, 2014

Non-textile Summer Project

We are in the midst of summer, and the weather has been absolutely beautiful.  Today, the house is open because the humidity is low and so are the temperatures.   After a couple of brutal 95+ degree summers, this one has been lovely.  It is very unusual to be able to have the house opened up in the middle of July.  The bees have been busy gathering pollen from our lovely St. John's Wort shrubs.  (If you live in the eastern US, this is a great native shrub to have around that the bees adore.)

My children have been home most of the summer.  They just didn't want to be tied down to lots of camps and commitments.  I decided that it was fine.  That was how I grew up after all, few commitments and lots of freedom.  My children are growing up and I think back to those long days of toddlerhood when the days seemed so long, and time to myself was nonexistent.  Now what I see is that my son is starting to stretch his wings with his own projects, riding his bike, jogging, and generally moving on into his teenage years and developing a healthy separation from us.  It is bittersweet, but I am proud of his newfound interests and strengths.  He will be gone in a few short years and I want to relish the time my children still want to spend with us.  My son has taken on washing and waxing my horse trailer, mostly to work off the money he owes me on a misguided episode involving the app store, $200, and upgrades and prizes to games.  A lesson that I am happy he has learned as a teenager at home rather than as a young adult in college.  There were a few tears, but happily he owned up to the mistake and when I asked why, he, with great honesty stated, "I thought you would never notice."  It is always a good thing to check your credit card statements!  My daughter spends her time reading books, something she longs for in the during school.  She would rather spend a day with a book than just about anything else, thank goodness for libraries.

So, I my time has been spent with children and other projects.  My son and I have started building a table for our patio.  I am trying to instill the idea of self-sufficiency, making do with things we have on hand, and the idea of crafting your own beautiful pieces.  It does seem to be taking hold.  At one point in this process he looked at me and said, "This really isn't that hard, is it?"  Also, one of the treasures in our home is our kitchen table, a table I built with my dad over a summer.  I am hoping my son will cherish this table in years to come.

We or rather I should say I wanted a farm table, and I had my son sit down and draw out the plans.  We then laid it out and found out that a 78" wide table is a bit too wide.  I am hoping the lesson of laying things out in space will stick with him.  We revised the design to be 38" wide and 78" long.

We started the project by going through the wood in our hay barn.  The former owners left us with a bunch of oak fence boards and we pulled several of those, cut them to length and took them to a neighbor to have planed.

The resulting product is really lovely, much different from the boards we took over.  My son was shocked to see the difference between the rough boards and the planed boards.

Next, we used 2x4's and 2x2's to build a frame for the table.  Then, we decided that we needed to put skirting boards around to cover the 2x4's and make it look nicer.  We didn't plan for that, so I ended up just purchasing 4 1x4 finished oak boards from a local builder supply.  My son asked why we didn't just buy all of the wood there.  I pointed out that those 4 small boards cost more than having the rest of the wood planed.   Here we have the skirting board on the two long sides, and need to put on the two end pieces.

I wanted to use cedar logs for legs.  My son was very skeptical of this idea, but I was insistent.  We cut the legs to length and I put him to work on sanding them.  After several hours of sanding and a couple of days, we had beautiful legs for our table, and my son was now convinced of the beauty of the idea.

You can see the before and after above.  We took the rough logs from dead cedars and cut and sanded them to the state you see on the right.

Now, I just have to get my son back out to finish up the table.  We just got back from vacation, and I think he is enjoying just sitting around and doing a lot of nothing!  I will post photos of the finished table which I hope to finish soon.