Summer Projects for Broke Assholes: Part I – The Kitchen Table

Thanks to the kitchen ceiling and other terrible life choices I’ve made, I’m completely broke right now. That means there aren’t going to be any new projects for a while, but that doesn’t mean that I’ve been sitting around watching my grass die for the last few months. I’ve been working on a few small, inexpensive projects to keep myself out of trouble. Because, as the good book says, idle hands are the devil’s playground, whatever the fuck that means. So that being said, I’ll be posting up a few small articles about the projects I’ve been working on over the last few months, but just didn’t feel like writing about at the time. Some of these projects include, but are not limited to…. The Kitchen Table, The Pantry Door, The Wooden Flags, The Bathrooms, and The French Drain. So, without further adieu, the first of this five-part summer posting spectacular that I have dubbed “Summer Projects for Broke Assholes”….

The Kitchen Table

So, once I finished up with the kitchen ceiling, I thought it would be nice to finally have a fucking table to put things on, like food and beer. So rather than spend a bunch of money on some garbage strip-mall furniture, or troll Craigslist for a month trying to find some overpriced piece of shit (and maybe get raped) – I decided to build one for myself. I figured, why not, I’m a guy who builds things, I have some tools and shitload of free-time. So after doing a bit of research on the catwebz, I decided on a farmhouse style table. They looked simple enough to build, they’re fairly popular right now, and they fit in pretty well with the aesthetics of my house. I sketched up a quick plan (because I have to justify an engineering degree somehow), and  it was off to Home Depot to gather some materials.

The ability to plan is what separates us from the goddamn dirty apes.

The tabletop would be constructed from 2 x 10s, the legs from 4 x 4s, and the apron from 1 x 5s, all tied together with leftover 2 x 10 scraps. After measuring the dimensions of the room, and doing some quick math about how much fucking room my fat ass and the fat asses of my friends (lol I don’t have any) would require, I decided to build it 54″ long by 37″ wide, and make it normal dining table height of 30″ (as opposed to counter height, or pub height). After sketching the thing out and subtracting the nominal sizes of the lumber, I ended up needing only $61 worth of raw lumber, a $4 box of wood screws, and some stain for the top, not too bad.

post-cutting, pre-finishing

After I finished cutting everything, it was time for a shitload of sanding, some paint, and a metric shitload of staining. I gave everything a good once-over with 150 grit sandpaper to smooth out all of the rough edges, and then I hit the tabletop with an extra shot at 220 grains, to make it silky smooth pre-stain. For the table legs and apron, I decided to paint it the same high-gloss pure white that I had been using on the trim and doors, and for the top I decided on a really nice espresso finish. Which should have turned out almost black to match the dark granite counter-tops in the kitchen. Spoiler alert: that didn’t go quite as planned.

Finished table-top, pre-stain.
The finished legs and apron, after three coats of high-gloss pure white paint.

So I’ve never actually stained anything before, probably because it’s a pain in the ass and paint is way easier, but I decided to give it a try. I picked up some stain/polyurethane combination stuff from Lowe’s, which was supposed to have a nice espresso finish. Turns out to get the as-advertised finish, I had to apply a total of FOUR coats, over a period of two and a half days. Needless to say, this was a pain in the ass. It did turn out pretty nicely in the end, and I suspect using green construction grade lumber didn’t help with that. Here is a picture that shows the progression of the table-top through each of the four coats.

I almost gave up after the second coat, but I didn’t because I’m not a fucking quitter.

Well that was that, and after letting everything dry for a few days it was time to assemble that shit and throw it into the kitchen. Important note, this thing is heavy, and based on some rough calculations with 4×4 legs, it has a buckling strength of about 4 trillion pounds. More importantly, as Boris the Blade says, heavy means reliable. Here is a shot of the fucking thing at its final resting place inside the kitchen. I’m still not sure what to do about chairs, I’ll probably end up buying some unfinished chairs and stain/painting them to match the table, as I don’t have the correct equipment to build chairs from scratch.

Chairs are overrated.

Important side-note, it’s never wise to use construction-grade lumber for building furniture. The reason for this is because that construction lumber is very wet, at ~20% moisture, while furniture grade lumber will be under 12%. What this means is that as the excess moisture evaporates out of the wood, it has a tendency to curl and warp. This isn’t a problem if it’s statically held within the framing of your house or whatever, but when it’s freestanding, as in the case of furniture, it can cause serious warping and bending. I knew about this going in, and used a shitload of fasteners in order to counteract this the best I could. As of the point I’m writing this, almost two months later, there is some warping, but it is pretty minimal at this point. You probably wouldn’t even notice it, because you don’t ever notice anything you unappreciative piece of shit.