A series of spectacular failures.

In the Spring, I cut a piece of plywood into about 400 pieces. For some reason or another, the visual, when plywood is turned on its side, is appealing to me. I layed the pieces out into a herringbone pattern and glued everything up. It took… forever.

Here is the top after sanding, filling voids, and trimming the edges square.
The top after applying finish. Just polyurethane.

I didn’t really have a set plan for the piece when I made it, I figured I’d use it as a table top. So with that in mind, I made a set of legs. The goal of these legs was to leave an opening in the front to allow baskets to be stored underneath for my kids’ blankets. The problem with my design was that I didn’t have stretchers low enough on the legs. It left just entirely too much wobble. The herringbone top is entirely too heavy, and the last thing I want is it to teeter over onto my 2-year old.

I was okay with these visually, they just weren’t functional or safe.

After striking out with these legs, I thought, you know what’s rigid and will still accomplish the look I want? Steel. So, I borrowed a welder from my law partner, got some square tubing and got to work. I couldn’t get the precision I wanted using an angle grinder to cut the steel, and I just flat didn’t like or feel comfortable with the welder or the welds I made. Back to the drawing board.

I didn’t photograph my metal work, but this is a scaled rendering of my feelings.

Thanksgiving was on its way, which caused me to step foot into my dining room and notice that the buffet I had was likely my Grandma’s. Or somebody’s Grandma’s. It just wasn’t me. So, now, I felt inspired, and I had found a use for that herringbone top.

And, it was going along really well. What was in my head was actually coming through in my work. I continued the layered plywood look; the legs were just stacked pieces of vertical lines.

Gluing up parts of the legs.
Legs after glue-up and before filling the voids – post jointer, but pre-sanding.
Sanded legs, right, herringbone top, center, then the cabinet components on the left.

Everything was clicking along great. I felt great, I was kind of amp’ed up. Then came assembly of the cabinet portion. And that went together great as well. Almost as if I knew what I was doing! Once I had the legs attached to the cabinet, I grabbed the top to just see how it fit in place… It didn’t. I had failed to take the dimension of the legs into account when I was measuring and cutting pieces cabinet components. The dang tape measure! So deceivingly complicated!

Sure, I could have disassembled and re-cut, but my wind was gone. I had been so careful, so meticulous – well I thought. So now I just wanted to be done with with it.

So, I took the legs and figured I’d make a couple stools. My daughters seems to always need a stool. And, consistent with my trajectory, the first stool failed. I did manage to get one done. It is my first time trying a miter joint joining a top to legs, and I tested it out. It seems really, really sturdy. Sturdy enough for my kiddos, for-sure. There are floating tenons in the miter joint to add strength, for those interested.

Finished stool.
Finished stool. The first layer of poly is still drying in this picture, so not completely “finished,” but the structural work is done.

So… I’ve still got that herringbone top. I’m frankly sick and tired of looking at it. It’s going to go winter in the basement, and I’m going to give projects that require such precision a break for a bit… Maybe do a little turning – something more forgiving.

A piece of firewood.
A piece of firewood after 10 minutes on the lathe.

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