Remember our backyard tour? That huge octagon picnic table that was the centerpiece for the entire design? Yeah, we built that! In fact, it was our first real woodworking project and the process of building it was an ordeal. We learned a ton from it! Some of those lessons came in the form of pure textbook-like education, while others in the form of unfortunate hilarity. This is what we learned from our first woodworking project:
Lesson 1 | Not All Wood is Created Equal
Not in the least. Even boards of the same type of wood aren’t created equal. One of the most labor intensive parts of the entire process? Picking out individual boards at the lumber store. Because we built a piece of furniture, we wanted to avoid large knots or blemishes in the wood. We went through board after board, choosing only the best for our project.
The finished table thanked us, our backs did not.
Lesson 2 | Invest in a Shop-Vac
While perusing the aisles of Costco in March, we picked up a little shop vac. It was fairly inexpensive and it seemed like a good investment. We might want to clean the garage one day! Let’s just say that at the end of our table project in April, I could kiss that thing. It was the only reason I didn’t absolutely lose my freaking mind at the mess. Sawdust E V E R Y W H E R E… which leads me to a subpoint:
Lesson 2 Volume 2 | Sawdust
Just know up-front that you will get sawdust places you’d rather not have sawdust. For you it may be your living room, or inside your shoe. If you’re an unlucky individual like myself it also means small shards of wood inside your bra and stuck to your leggings so that when you sit, you’re poked in the rear, literally.
Lesson 3 | Start Small
I think we were a little bit overzealous when we decided to take on a 600+ pound octagon picnic table. In retrospect, we should have started out a lot smaller… like with a cutting board or a set of blocks. To live is to learn, right?
Lesson 4 | Homemade Doesn’t Mean Cheap
… and boy do I wish this was true. We decided to make the table for our backyard because we could get exactly what we wanted, and it would be cheaper. A-ha! Joke’s on us. Sure, the materials (boards, hardware, and glue) only cost us around $325. However, we also bought a table saw and a miter saw. We did most everything with those two saws until we realized on our very last step that our legs were just a touch too long. So, we opted to buy a handheld skillsaw instead of taking the table apart. Expensive? Yes. Worth it? Eh. Probably. At least we have this equipment from here on out.
One thing that I don’t think you can put a price on is the experience, though. I loved building this table with my husband. It was a great “team building” exercise for us, and even though there were times of tension, overall it was a pleasant experience. Also – you automatically love a table that you made more than one that you bought. It’s science.
I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Building our first woodworking project was no easy feat. It took us twice as long as we imagined it would, there were a lot of splinters, and if we could do it all over again, we’d do a lot of things differently. However, I am so stinking happy to have a table that we built with our own 4 hands. It’s the perfect addition to our backyard oasis and we look forward to many years of entertaining.