Every place I've ever lived has been designed for that "average American family," with lots of bedrooms, living room, dining room, family room, etc. The problem was that I was a single person, not an average family. I needed space, but for hobbies, not people. And because I'm over 6'2", bending over to use sinks designed for children was a constant frustration. Over the years, I collected a list of things I would change if I could have my dream house. As I approached retirement, I realized time was running out for that house; it was now or never.

Dreams are not always perfect, however. I could never afford my dream house, a spacious Southern California home overlooking the Pacific Ocean. But I could afford a modest ranch house, with a 20-mile drive to the beach. It was a very long way from perfect, but it had potential.

This blog documents the process of turning that small average house into something that matches my lifestyle. It will be as close to my dream house as I can make it. I'm doing all the work myself to stretch my resources. By not hiring contractors, I can afford high quality materials, and I'll know the job is always done right. The remodeling will be my primary avocation for a few years, even as I try to fit in my writing and other hobbies.

It promises to be an interesting journey, and a challenging one!

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Pottery Wheel Side Table

The pottery wheel side table turned out to be a byproduct of my lack of wood for building the desk credenza and/or more drawers.  By that I mean it jumped to the top of the list, because it could be made from what I had around — bits of maple and cherry and even a little mahogany, plus some small pieces of plywood.  And since it is a functional piece for the pottery studio, I took some whimsical license in its design.  It certainly doesn’t look like a living room piece. 

Some of the cherry came from my stash of old rough milled wood, from a half-dead tree cut down many years ago.  Pieces cupped, twisted, split . . . but when put through jointer, table saw, heavy-duty band saw, and thickness planer — very nice indeed.  Still had the bark on it!

The function of the pottery wheel side table is to hold clay and pottery tools while working the clay on the wheel.  So it needed to be about the height of the wheel and relatively small — about 18” square.  There had to be enough space underneath to mop the floor (need to keep the silica dust under control).  There would be enough space under the top for storage; I elected to make a pull-out tray (a variation on a drawer) for that space. 

The legs are basically 1.5” square, made up of four separate 3/4” square pieces of wood glued together.  The outside and inside of these pieces run from the floor all the way to the top.  The other two pieces are half-length.  It’s a strong design, but a bit complex, almost a puzzle.  All in all, about 50 pieces of wood went into this table, all glued together without screws or other fastenings. 

This is how it went together:

The top was built concurrently.  It was laminated with five pieces of wood (cherry and maple), and then a beveled raised frame was glued on the outside.  (the center maple section was actually a leftover from my kitchen countertop, a piece of laminated side splash I decided not to use)

As with the kitchen countertop, I applied an epoxy surface to the top, then dry sanded, wet sanded, and waxed.  Pottery is a wet hobby, and the top had to be completely waterproof. 

This is the table without any finish (top is just sitting there, not fastened yet).

This is a side view.  The living room credenza (when I get to that) will be made of cherry (trim, drawers, and top), with the plywood panels painted the same blue.

Here it is with the drawer-tray open.

I used a half-blind dovetail joint for this drawer; it doesn’t have a separate front.  First time with this joint for me, and it didn’t proceed without incident.  It might have had something to do with the front being made of 3/4” stock and the sides from ½”.  Not sure what it was, but I will be making more of these half-blind joints in the future, so will have to get it all figured out.

This photo shows where the little table fits in.  The tools placed on the table were staged; I will be doing a post showing a bowl being made — from lump of clay to finished glazed piece.  The important role of the table will then be fully revealed.

The Drawer Factory

I did manage to find enough suitable cherry from my stash of old wood to make the drawer for the pottery table, and another drawer for the bathroom vanity (and its front), but then discovered I had run out of 18” drawers slides (more now ordered).  I’m planning to make a run down to the hardwood store this week to stock up on drawer wood, and the new slides should be here in a week or so, so more new drawers on the way. 

Still need to move on the credenza, and have now started the design for the porch roof.  So as always, something will happen. 

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