Tag Archives: diy

Woodworking: Side table side project

As I await the arrival of what I hope will be the last piece I need for the end table project, here’s a standalone post about a side table project.

I found a listing for an end table on the free stuff section of craigslist, which you know by now is where I go almost exclusively for things to refinish. Of course not everything worth redoing is limited to the free stuff section (more on that in a future post), but that’s the page that receives most of my focus.

Salvageable for sure!

The person who listed the table set it outside for me to pick up at night, and about 50 minutes later, I was home with it. But with everything these days, outside it stayed at first.

Daylight gave me comfort this table with its solid wood top just had water damage that could be sanded off easily. The white paint was in pretty good shape, and I figured that the paint was thick enough that light sanding would be the way to make it bright again.

I cannot overstate the benefits of getting solid wood furniture.

As expected, the more I took off, the more the water damage went away. It was shaping up very nicely.

And the satisfaction of knowing that you can keep going without issue to make it perfect is such a comfort!

As I kept going, I got to see how the tabletop was looking so much nicer than I had expected.

Hang on. I miscalculated.

I was marveling at how the top was made with a single, wide piece of wood and with no knots. How did I come across such a gem? And then I realized my mistake. The top wasn’t one solid piece of wood like I’d thought. Rather, a wood veneer had been applied to some other hardwood underneath it. That’s why the grain didn’t line up where it should have.

That grain should be consistent the whole way!

It seemed like I couldn’t go much further without running out of veneer, so even though there were parts that showed discoloration, it was time to stop.

In my first woodworking post I mentioned that I had decided against refinishing the coffee table with teak oil because it had that weird yellow river, and I was concerned that it would stand out without stain. Faced with a similar situation, I decided to go for it. I’d learn a lot from it. And what kind of guest (remember guests?) is going to be looking at my bedside table?

Hey! That’s no so bad!

I found I had not stopped sanding too soon. The teak oil make it obvious where I’d gone through the veneer. But the discoloration of the veneer itself seemed to be hidden well.

While this isn’t normally my style of furniture, it fit well physically in the room and was a very quick turnaround.

As happy as the current owner is, I expect the next one to be at least as pleased.

I learned a lot from this project.

  1. Wood veneers can look very good but require much more caution for a flawless refinishing.
  2. Teak oil doesn’t absolutely require a surface that is free of all discolorations for the result to look good.
  3. It’s kinda nice to have some projects that don’t take forever.

Woodworking: End table refinishing project (part 6)

I had expected that this would be the final installment of the end table refinishing project and that the next woodworking project’s first installment would be next week, but it turns out that we get at least one more post about this table beyond this one. How great is that?

Last week I told you about the 18″ ash legs I’d ordered. I was looking forward to those legs. I got the shipping confirmation. I was tracking their progress from Illinois to Los Angeles and their expected delivery date. But there was no progress. I called South Carolina, and South Carolina said that it was shipped from Illinois, and maybe there was a different tracking number used. I called Illinois, and ultimately it looked like the the package had been lost by UPS.

When I heard that, I immediately felt for Tucker Carlson. But the loss of this package seemed to be real instead of the fake-lost fake Hunter Biden documents.

The seller’s customer service was very nice and offered a replacement. And since they didn’t have ash legs available immediately, they asked if I would be OK with white oak legs instead. I didn’t mind darker legs, and it wasn’t like the rest of the table was consistently one type of wood and that this would throw off the coloration of the piece.

I tracked the legs all the way from Illinois to LA, and then it was time to get to work.

I sanded them down and got them ready for the teak oil. But I had to figure out how to let them dry without a problem.

Then I realized that the mounts I had ordered on amazon came with like a T-nut for hanger bolts. This kit came with hanger bolts, too, so all you really needed were legs that were drilled out in the center. Pretty convenient. But I could install these nuts into the top of a cardboard box.

I drilled out the holes first.
Ready to go!

So I started the process, and I was on my way.

Look at how this perspective makes the leg look like a dowel without taper.

So far so good! Table is so close to being finished! Hooray! No problems here!


I checked the legs against the table, and there was definitely not enough space for the hanger bolts to be screwed in all the way. I had to come up with solutions!

hey, it could work!

I decided to see if the nut would work as a spacer. It fit, sure, but it was all kinds of sketchy.

Well, there ARE legs on it!

It actually looked pretty nice, I think! I was happy that I chose straight leg mounts over angled leg mounts. Right?

But I had to figure out a solution that could actually not be super sketchy. Which this setup absolutely was.

So I got some washers that I decided to use as spacers. Just for the time being. You know, unless they worked great. Then forever.

Unsightly much?

Not only did this approach not look good, but the play that was the result of the imperfect fit made the table noticeably wobbly. I hadn’t put weeks into this to have the threads stripped and the table fall down.

So it was back to all kinds of research. I needed not only to get the enough space between the mount plates and the table but also the proper mounts.

And this gave me the opportunity to reconsider my choice of using straight mounts over angled mounts.

So I talked to the seller in South Carolina about the mounts they sell–the ones that are made with the legs in mind–about if there’s enough clearance to accommodate for the 3/4″-long hanger bolts without having to add a buffer between the mount and the table. Ultimately, the answer was yes.

This time I decided to go with angled mounts.

As they were on their way, I did some calculations so I could be ready with what I needed to finish up this project and be happy with it.

I knew the leg mounts were made with an 11-degree mount angle.

The table is 14″ wide. The legs are 18″ tall. How big does the piece of wood need to be to affix to the underside of the table so the legs can hit the floor where I want them to?

OK so I have a right triangle. Makes it a little easier.

The hypotenuse of the right triangle is 18″ because the legs are at an angle, and the angle is 11 degrees. So if I want the legs hit the floor at about the corners of the table, I have to figure out where the offset should be.

I can do that simply by sin(11 degrees) and multiply that by 18. I get a little more than 3.43″. So you take away about 7″ overall from the 14″.

But that’s from the center of the leg. I need to know how long a block of wood has to be to accommodate the mounts.

The mount is a square 2-3/8″ on a side. So I need to add half of 2-3/8″ because only half the mount would extend beyond the center of the leg.

Except that I want the mount to be at a 45-degree angle so the legs point to the corners.

But we’re lucky. A square is made of two isosceles right triangles. To find the hypotenuse, we just add the squares of each side and take the square root of that. So sqrt( 2 x 2.375^2). That gives about 3.36″.

The actual design of the mounts cuts off the corners to make an octagonal shape, and the screw holes also are recessed from the edge. It seems like I can get rid of about half an inch overall. I’d have to add about 1.5″ to either side of the piece of wood. So I have 14″ wide – 7″ for the sweep of the leg + 3″ to account for the size of the mount. I’ll need a block of wood 10″ long. Also the width of that block of wood needs to be somewhere in the 2.75″-3″ range. As for thickness, I’d need 1/2″ to 3/4″.

Equipped with that information, I went to House of Hardwood where I hadn’t shopped in about two decades. But as you’ll see in my next woodworking project series, I knew that was the place to go.

I found some hardwood in the scrap area. I got two pieces. They cut them to 10″ long. Back in the car, I was on my way home with the blocks of wood I needed and the California shutdown looming.

With any luck, next week’s post will be the last of this project’s series. And then I can begin the next one.

Woodworking: End table refinishing project (part 3)

Once the glue was dry, I started to sand the panels. Certainly it was convenient that my glue job set with proper alignment.

A little preview first:

I figured the end table had been constructed from one type of wood because why wouldn’t it be? Clearly the stain had been applied after it was assembled, and that is an approach. But it looked so flat and boring that I wasn’t even looking for any indication of inconsistency.

I still don’t know for certain why this was the case, but what I had picked up from that front lawn was put together from at least three different types of lumber. The base is made out of pine, so that’s now garbage. It can make sense that the base is made of a cheap soft wood, and the design is easier to turn on a lathe. But the top is made of two different hardwoods. If find that to be weird. However, certainly rescuable.

I started the sanding with the larger board.

I see potential, but I don’t know what lurks behind the awful stain.

The stain they used was ugly and flat. There’s grain that might actually look good, but so much can be buried under stain. I know from experience when I stained the coffee table to hide that yellow river. The wood got lighter and lighter the more I sanded. The 60-grit helped me remove the terrible brown and smooth out the seams.


I’ve used my Makita sander for all my projects. It’s held up fine for more than 20 years. After hours and hours of sanding, my hands buzz. For days. I feel like that’s not a good thing, but look at this progress! And switching to 100-grit and then 150 and then 220.

Why hide this?

I moved on to the side pieces. I had expected them to be the same wood underneath the bad stain.

That grain!

Same process of removing the old finish, but this wood is darker, and it’s not from stain penetration. It’s just a different wood. Not necessarily a bad thing, but I didn’t expect it.

Look at these color differences!

I knew the top would be a bigger challenge. This was the part that had come in two pieces, when I noticed too long a split along one seam, I snapped one of those two apart before gluing it up. A prior owner had tried to repair it when a different seam had split, but rather than clamps, it appears that tape was used. Then again, it could have been taped together until someone bought glue.


The prior DIY repair left an offset that I figured I ought to be able to correct during sanding. But I was most apprehensive about what I’d find under the many oval rings in the corner. My hopes of finishing with teak oil depended on clear wood underneath.

So here’s a gallery of that progress:

It’s important to point out the offset I had to resolve through sanding.

Offset created by a bad DIY job to fix it who even knows how long ago.

The legs that came with this piece don’t seem to match the rest of it, and I had resolved to get round tapered legs that match the mid-century modern stylings of the rest. That led to an entirely separate search for legs that are worth installing. That will be covered in another post.

Since it all looked clean teak oil is the way I decided to go. As I began my prep for that, I noticed that boards I hadn’t addressed were also splitting apart. But teak oil will fill some irregularities. I decided that it wasn’t an issue and that I’d try to get away with it.

This should be OK. Right????

You might think this is me asking for trouble. Find out next week why you’re right.

Adventures in PS4 repair

Through pretty much all of covid, my PlayStation 4 has been acting up. In the middle of games of Rocket League, the thing would just decide it didn’t want to participate anymore. Obviously, I don’t blame it. If you’ve played Rocket League, you understand that this is a shared desire. But the friends I play with cared because it left them a man down.

While the solid white light problem remained despite replacement of the HDMI cable, using a hole saw to cut two holes in the back of the cabinet that houses my PS4 and the rest of my stuff to increase the flow of air, putting a fan in front of the area that has my ps4 so it can cool it down. Nothing worked.

Then I encountered a new problem: The PS4 flashed blue when I tried powering it on. I had to disconnect power altogether and then reconnect power to get it even to react to starting up, at which point it reminded me that I hadn’t powered it off correctly. I know I didn’t power it off correctly, but I also know I will die before the thing would power itself off correctly, and I don’t have that kind of time (you know, by definition).

I had told my fiancee that it’s lucky that our wedding has been facing delays because I’ll get to register for a PS5, and then all my troubles will be gone. She could have been more receptive to that suggestion, and she hasn’t yet warmed up to it, despite frequent attempts to make it an obvious choice.

I started looking online for places that can fix the PS4 that are near me and won’t make me walk through the doors of a building. Lots of results! But then I looked at what it would cost me, and I figured it was easier to be inconvenienced.

But then I came upon discussions of swapping out the hard drive.

That led to research on the hard drive I’d want to get to just start anew. I got close to ordering one from amazon that had reviews that stated it was perfect for PS4. Promising for sure! The cost was about $80, which is OK, I guess, but I still felt like I needed to let it breathe before making a decision.

Then I remembered something exciting: My fiancee had a hard disk drive that she had swapped out for an SSD for her computer. She didn’t need the old drive and wanted to destroy it. I had said that it sounded like fun to destroy it. But we hadn’t yet destroyed it.

I went to the cardboard box where the HDD was stashed and saw that the drive was the right size and had the specs I wanted! I’m fine with a 500GB drive and definitely didn’t need a 2TB. I backed up the stuff on my PS4 and then swapped in the replacement drive that cost me $0. So far no problems with the PS4, and it’s now downloading Rocket League and FIFA20. I should have staggered the downloads rather than installing them at the same time because they’re both making their way along and will finish at about the same time.

I’ll get to play later and see if there’s any improvement from the old drive.

I’m hoping for the best.