Ever have one of those projects where you just want to throw up your hands and walk away? That’s where I am with the TV stand. A series of small flaws and mistakes has reached the point where I need to take three or four steps backward before I can move forward.
When I dry-assembled the case I discovered I’d been careless gluing up one side assembly, and the top assembly wouldn’t sit tight to it. Plus the frame was just a touch out of square. Further, the other frame and panel assembly had a bow inward. And, frankly, I wasn’t happy with the finish on the frames. So I decided they had to be rebuilt. I took them to the tablesaw, cut them apart to salvage the panels, grabbed my wallet and headed out to get more lumber.
The finishing issues I’ve discussed in earlier posts here and here. Fixes this time didn’t require such drastic measures, but I’m redoing a lot of work. I sanded down one face of a divider where finish wasn’t sticking, re-dyed it, and opened a fresh can of finish. The first couple coats seem to be flowing out more evenly than previously, leading me to think that perhaps I had some finish that was outdated or something. As for the top panel, I decided to strip the poly from it and start again. For these cherry parts, I’m switching to a gel finish, one I’ve had success with in the past.
The really frustrating part about this whole project: It shouldn’t take this long! There’s really nothing complicated about this design. It’s just a glorified box! But I can’t let myself get in a hurry, I just need to do what’s necessary to make it right, because I’ll be looking at it a lot over the coming years.
First, I’ll apologize for not having photos with this post. I’ve just been too preoccupied when I get into the basement to put on finish to think about grabbing the camera. So I’ll substitute a portion of my SketchUp model to show you what I’m talking about.
I’ve got the top panel and pediment for the stand completed (that’s this part):
and began applying finish. I was in a quandary about how to prevent finish from running downhill off of the arch. It may sound counter-intuitive, but I decided to try a thinned-down varnish. It would flow out quickly, so any runs would be immediately apparent and could be wiped away. The trade-off is that with a thinner finish, it takes more coats to get the build I want. This seems to be working well on the pediment. However, I’m having issues with the undiluted finish I’m using on the surface where the TV will sit. Bubbles, nibs, uneven coverage. This surface needs to look perfect, and I’m far from that. I’ve got two coats on, I’ll see where the third takes me. Perhaps thinning is the answer for this as well.
Dance lessons and rehearsals (for the daughter, not me) are eating up time that I might normally spend in the shop, so progress on the TV stand is slow. A lot of the pieces have been cut to size so I’ve been finishing them as I go and that’s taking a long time. Here’s why: Each surface needs to lay flat so the finish spreads out evenly. For one of the vertical dividers, that’s three surfaces (each face, plus the narrow edge that faces forward). Each surface gets three coats. I can apply one coat a day. That’s nine days just to finish the dividers. Then I could move them out of the way and find room for a couple more pieces.
However, I’m beginning to have doubts about the brush-on poly I’m using. There was the earlier post about repairing bubbling on one of the frame and panel assemblies. Now on one of the dividers, I’ve got a couple of spots that are adverse to having any polyurethane on them. There must be some sort of oil contaminating those spots. I’m afraid it may come down to refinishing that face. Tack on another 3-4 days for that. Hopefully, the finishing will be smooth (pun intended) from here on out.
Progress on the TV stand creeps forward. To get the best possible finish, I’m finishing parts as I go. This way, parts lay flat while brushing on the poly top coat and the finish lays out more smoothly without runs. But I came across a problem with one of the end panels. See the bubbles?
Construction of the TV stand has finally begun. (BTW, I had a friend give me some grief about my glacial rate of progress on this project. My response was that what I lack in speed, I make up for in procrastination.)
I’ve milled all the pieces for the frame and panel sides, I’ve dyed the frame pieces, and have two of the three coats of varnish on the frames and panels. I brought them into the house for a dry assembly in the family room to give my wife an idea of the completed size. She likes the look, thank goodness, because I’d hate to start over. Then she said, “You know this is just the start, right? I’m going to want tables to go with that when it’s done.” No, I didn’t know that. But yes, I guess I should have expected it.
One more coat of varnish, then I can glue up the end panels. I’ll post some photos as they come together.
I found time to sit at the computer Saturday and watch some of the excellent on-line video tutorials for Sketchup. By 1:30p, I’d been at it a couple of hours, and I was getting a little bleary. My wife and daughter were gone, so I lay down on the couch for a 20-minute “power nap“… and woke up two hours later! Very unusual for me, as I seldom even nap. Anyway, I’m much better versed in Sketchup now (and better rested), so time allowing, I’ll begin designing my TV stand this week.
There’s plenty of hyperbole about how “easy” Sketchup is to use. Just ask these guys.
They do amazing things with the software, but I should recognize that these guys have graphics backgrounds, art degrees, etc. and that I don’t. I should also recognize that learning any new software requires some learning time, no matter how often words like “intuitive” and “easy to use” get tossed about. So why did I expect to plunge right in, start clicking and dragging, and have my TV stand designed with scaled drawings in just a couple of evenings? The answer lies in the title of this post.
Despite some initial frustrations working with the software, I’ve managed to create a basic look for the stand that the wife and I like…
…but I’ll have to go back to square one and start drawing it correctly, with parts that fit as they should, so I can then output dimensioned plans.
I should make it clear, I’m not dissing Sketchup, just my ignorance in jumping in without first doing a little training. So in the days ahead, I’ll backpedal and put in my study time so that I can move ahead. Lesson learned (again): Take the time up front to save time and frustration later.