Tuesday, January 6, 2009

What I've Been Doing

haven't posted here as often as I'd planned. For that I apologize, mostly to myself. My plan was to have something new here at least once per week, but that hasn't happened.

In October of last year I wrote a piece called "The Drawers of the World..." in which I discussed a job I had picked up building some cabinets for a garage workshop for a friend of mine. I had planned to finish that job and get moving on two other projects he wanted me to build, and have it all finished before the end of the year. Well, I delivered the cabinets last weekend.

A number of things happened, including being called to substitute teach more than anticipated at the beginning of a semester, taking care of my mother and grandmother when needed, the suicide of one of my son's classmates... it all adds up to the job taking longer than I wanted. The main problem, however, was me.

I should amend that last statement. The main problem was the intersection between me and the drawers I was using for this project. My friend, Clay, had these old drawers lying around taking up space and he asked if I could use them, all eight of them, in the design. I said I could, and that should have been that. He wanted me to use standard-issue side mounted drawer slides. He wasn't the least bit interested in having the cabinets look attractive so long as they were sturdy and functional. Again, I told him I could deliver what he wanted, and that should have been the end of the discussion.

I built the framework of the cabinets out of standard two by fours the keep the cost down and to provide a heavy, sturdy base for the workstation. I walled the cabinets in with half-inch birch plywood, giving one of them an extra, inner wall to support the narrower drawers on that side. I installed the hardware for the drawer slides inside the cabinets. I installed the mating hardware for the drawer slides on the drawers. And I cussed and pulled my hair for a couple of weeks.

What I didn't anticipate was the construction of the drawers themselves. We don't really know how old they are, but they were part of a built-in unit that was in the house when my friend, Clay, bought it. The house is around 70 years old so, for all we know, the drawers could be that old as well. However old they are the one thing that's certain is they were built without the use of a straight-edge. Or a square of any kind. It's possible they were built be someone on the verge of losing his sight but too embarrassed to admit it.

The drawers didn't fit. If they fit in the front, they didn't fit in the back. If they fit in the back they would fit in the front. The slides are designed to compensate for minor variations in size and I had taken that into account when I built the cabinets. I should have examined the drawers more closely before starting, but they were in a stack in the corner of my small shop and I just never thought to pull them all out.

One other thing: I don't have much experience with moving parts. It's a learning curve, and I'm gaining altitude, but when I started this project I really needed more experience with drawers than I had at the time. It took some down time to figure out exactly how to shim the drawer slide parts to make them fit because the space I left for myself was so tight, but I plowed on through to the end.

I finally finished the project and delivered it. Clay is very happy with it. And I will not turn down another project of it's kind. I will, however, remember the lessons I learned.

During the times I was scratching my head, trying to decide how to proceed, I worked on a few other projects, including the large and small cherry candle holders you see here, and which you can purchase at my Etsy shop if you so desire. There are no photos of the cabinets as of yet. The next time I'm at Clay's house I'll take a few pictures of them. While they were in my shop I really wasn't in the mood for photos. I wasn't in much of a mood to blog, either, as it turns out.

1 comment:

Jackie said...

Cherry is one of my favorite woods - I like it as bases under my madonna sculptures...your candle holders are very pretty!