Part One: Karma
I, like the foolish, foolish beast I am, decided that for my first legitimate woodworking project, I would make doors that were not one piece of wood (that would have been too simple/logical, obviously) but seven. Seven I tell you!
I give you this picture, to solve like one of those puzzles in Cricket magazine. What’s horribly, horribly wrong in this picture?
Ding, Ding, Ding!
Those two pieces of wood, jointed so nicely to the inner front of the cabinet? Yeah, those are the outsides of the DOORS. They’re not supposed to be jointed to anything. They’re supposed to swing, like doors do. Sigh. Perfect example of me getting ahead of myself.
I was off to a great start.
I began the scary process of jointing the doors together after lots of measuring. Scary because the doors are lots of little pieces that need to fit together Goldilocks style (juuuust right) and oh, yeah, they’re the most visible part of the vanity.
Also, for the plywood insets on the doors I was using ½” plywood instead of ¾”, and drilling ¼” holes for the dowels.
There’s a fun math problem for you! How much wiggle room did that leave me? Right, none.
Surprisingly, the dry fit for the frame of door number one went like this:
And then the dry fit for the whole door went like this:
And ended up like this:
And then I did this:
‘I AM A GOOOLDEN GOD! LOOK ON MY WOODWORKS YE MIGHTY AND DESPAAAAAIIIRRRR!’
Which explains why I remade the second door about eight times.
So the ease with which the first door went together was reversed, and then quadrupled or whatever Karma does.
I re-cut the top inset for the second door at least four times, and that is no exaggeration. I bought a lot of new 1x2s which then got cut down into tiny pieces and then discarded. (Actually, I slammed together a couple of the tiny pieces to make a spice rack, but you get the point.)
A lot of the problem was using a regular ole’ circular saw for something that required lots of precision.
Here is door number 2 partway through attempt number one. Even the photo is sad:
At first I thought that sanding would fix all my problems. But it didn’t. It just got sawdust everywhere.
But, eventually, they worked. And both the doors were just a teensy bit too tall to fit into the vanity.
“No problem,” said Nick, “you can just fix that using the belt sander.”
But because I didn’t even know what a belt sander was at the time, what I really said was:
Part Two: The Belt Sander
I don’t have pictures of this part because I was too busy swearing and crying to bother with them. Enjoy my dramatic re-enactment.
We don’t have a belt sander in our tiny apartment, so we took the doors to Nick’s parents house where all the tools live.
Nick’s father, is like Nick, an engineer, and thus very particular about everything. He is also a very good wood worker, and thus snickered a lot and gave lots of obvious advice that I wasn’t aware of after I had managed to butcher everything.
So, Nick’s father set us up with every tool we could possibly want for sanding ever and then left us in the basement because he had better things to do than watch us create a mockery of all things woodwork.
I picked up the belt sander.
Me: Psst. Nick. How do I turn this thing on?
Nick pushes a button.
If my doors could have spurted ketchup blood, they would have. You see, gentle readers, belt sanders are for large expanses of flat surface, not a span of wood ¾ of an inch thick that need the lightest of touches. As I soon learned.
The belt sander bucked, it sputtered, it sanded. It was really f***ing heavy.
When I was done, the top of door number 2 looked like an abstract rendering of waves at sea, which is to say, wavy. Not anything close to straight.
Thus commenced the swearing and being not very nice to Nick who is always very nice and the crying and the blaming him for things that were not his fault (though the belt sander was his idea).
Nick tried to suggest helpful ideas most of which involved adding a small strip of wood somewhere.
My solution was to say ‘F*** it’ and drink box wine. Guess whose solution worked best?
That’s right, MINE.
After box wine (and scallops) we went back down to the basement with Nick’s father, at which point I asked for help and he said ‘why would you use a belt sander on this? This is what a plane is for.’
And I thought you knew this was the plan, so why didn’t you tell me two hours ago?*
Then he put forth some not very helpful ideas, most of which involved adding a small strip of wood somewhere. Nick suggested we just use the radial saw on the top of both doors to even them out, which turned out to be the perfect suggestion and I didn’t even have to put any small strips of wood anywhere because the doors were suddenly the perfect height to fit in the vanity.
The moral of this story? Nick is a hero, and a very nice boy. Man.
*This is a theme with doing things with Nick’s father around. He tells us something very helpful, after the fact when it is no longer helpful, and then Nick says ‘WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY THAT TWO HOURS AGO WHEN WE TOLD YOU WHAT WE WERE DOING???????’
Part Three: The Plane
You know the horrible story I just told about the belt sander? You know, the one with all the swearing and the wavy wood? And how I was supposed to use a plane for something like that? Well…
The last thing I needed to do before throwing the doors out a window in frustration sanding and finishing the doors, was to take a little bit off the inner side of door number one, which I had made just the slightest bit wider than door number two.
For this I used a plane. It worked beautifully. I made millions of little curlicues of wood. And then I had this: