gravel road girl

Archive for the category “woodworking projects”

I Had a Dream. . .

Yes, I usually fall off the face of the blogging-earth between November and February. It’s called speech season. I see that my last post was October 27, which is about right. I’m finally emerging from my paper-strewn den bleary eyed, the sound tracks from Legally Blonde, Rent, and Next to Normal incessantly repeating in my brain from musical theater practices. Lines from ensembles and choral reading haunt my dreams, and I can be caught snickering to myself as I recall witty improvisation practices. And, not to brag, but since it is my blog-IMG_1253

I’m kinda proud of this kid–yeah, the one cringing in the chair–he’s mine and pretty good at improv.

Anyway, all of this to say, that way back in the fall before my brain was consumed with speechies, I had a dream of building a trestle table. Some of you may have seen the pictures already and some asked for more how-to’s. I think what I’ll share is more how-not-to’s!


This is my dad.

He’s pretty great and pretty handy.

Very handy.

I could write too many blogs about the times he’s rescued me from projects-over-my-head, appliances on the fritz, critters–dead and alive, gardening conundrums, and, yes, dreams too big for my britches.


Yep, that’s it right there. So innocent looking. 10 pages of step-by-step instructions and a handy supply list to boot. Pinterest dreams. Done in a weekend–two tops, right?

Hold on there, girlie! Not so fast.


Let me explain that well over a year ago, my dear, ever-so-patient, believing-in-my-dreams husband dismantled a fair sized chunk of falling-down barn so that I could have ‘free wood.’ I will also add that it was August and sweat-trickling hot. I was there for moral support and the handing up of tools, but he did most of the work. And then my beautiful, free barn boards lay in storage for at least a year.

Then cometh the fall, and I was not homeschoolingeth! Ah, what time I have on my hands! Let’s get this done. . .12029719_10153217325568652_756724072713281184_o

Notice the smiles, the hope-filled eyes, the tidy workbench–we’re ready to roll!


As you can see, we have wide, red-painted barn boards that have yet to be planed on one side (I wanted to use the red, but–cleanliness-wise–wasn’t a good choice) and both edges. I learned a lot about tools and machinery. And, yes, I tried to wear eye and ear protection but, obviously, not in this picture.

*Advice: barn boards are great and add lovely patina, but they’re a lot of work. We ran our boards through the planer multiple times for each surface (one side and both edges) taking off as little as possible in order to get a smooth surface.


Here you can see the four boards (they are upside-down) as they have been planed, biscuit-glued together, clamped, and left to dry for several days. We’re having a discussion (one of MANY as I desired to rush headlong and my dad would say, “Well, let’s think about this a minute.”) about how to attach the dropleafs.


As we waited on the drying table top, we were working on the base. You can see it nearly assembled as my dad is leaning on it, but, oh the prayers to the good Lord above. . .

*Advice: again, I bought old, rough timbers to use for the base. Looked cool but SOOOO not straight! In the end, we bought quite a few 2×8’s and cut them to the lengths we needed. We did use some of the old timbers, but I think that they created some of our problems with things not being square. So be warned–old boards=more work=more time.


My dad palm sanding some of the wood plugs on the inset screws. As you can see, lots of measuring, cutting angles, squaring things up. Even going to pick out boards takes forever to find straight boards that aren’t full of sappy knots. It was definitely a process. IMG_0581

Attaching the drop leaf: we used piano bench hinges purchased at Loews; they come in several lengths. Finally, I got to the point where I could haul everything back to my house (we built this in my dad’s awesome, tool-filled garage). It had to come home in two pieces or I wouldn’t be able to get it into my house! Glad we thought of that before we put it together. The table top went to our loft so I could put several coats of polyurethane on it.

*PANIC!: Because the boards had been outside (literally) for years and throughout the assembly process, when I finally brought them in where it was warm, they warped! Yes, I finally found the time to start putting on the polyurethane, and the outside edges of the tabletop had warped upward about 1/4″. Whoyagonnacall? My dad! After I composed myself, I called my dad. He came, he assessed, we clamped and clamped tightly. Then I prayed and didn’t look at it for five days. When I dared go look again, the boards were all nicely aligned again. How kind of them.

*I polyed and sanded and wiped and polyed. Then I did it all again. And again. I believe I put four coats on it. And in between the polying, I painted.

I had sanded and primed the base while it was in the garage. Then, I emptied my foyer and went to work. I decided to paint the base a grey that is two shades darker than the chairs (which is a story for another blog!). And so it went, paint, sand, paint, sand (poly, sand, poly, sand). Will this EVER be done?

Why, yes, it DID finally get done–just in the nick of time. I had a dinner for eleven women, and the table was finished and dry approximately five days before–no sweat…

But really, here’s what it’s all about–

Family and food all around one table. We can easily seat twelve, and I’m sure we could squeeze fourteen. It’s been a joy to have people sit, eat, relax, and laugh.

But the best part?


Yeah, I gotta build it with my dad.

He’s pretty great and pretty handy.

“You don’t choose your family. They are God’s gift to you.”    ~Desmond Tutu


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