Sunday, November 2, 2014

Lowes Employees Fear Pinterest

Last week's carpentry project was a wood drawer / box, to be used under my bed for storing my shoes.  You know how it is... You have sneakers for running and exercising (though running shoes really should be reserved for running only...), sneakers for just wearing around for comfort, so as not to wear out the running shoes, and old running shoes that became the yard-mowing shoes.  I think it's time to cycle them down and give myself a newer pair of yard mowing shoes, eh? And maybe stash a pair in my car for emergencies.  

Still, I'm left with a queen sized bed, under which the only thing tha comfortably fits is my Yorkie. It's his favorite hiding place.  It's always been a shame that space couldn't be utilized for proper storage, because the clearance on the sides is only 5 1/2 inches.  I couldn't find plastic underbed boxes to fit.  

I decided to build one. Okay, maybe three, if it all worked out.  :D

I sketched out my plans, made allowances for actual lumber dimensions, and went to Lowes with my shopping list on my phone.  

One thing on the list was a countersink bit.  I had decided to find my way in woodworking without spending $200 per project, as a lot of newbies do.  I'm limited to buying one basic tool each time I make something, and in this way, I'll eventually have some useful tools, learning to use one new thing each time.  The countersink bit was needed in order to prevent my wood from splitting, primarily, and secondarily to sink the screw heads neatly below the surface.  It makes sanding over those screws easier.  

I think I spent $63 for this one drawer.  Hahaha!  But if you throw in a drink from the cooler, and a set of countersink bits for $20 (cheaper by the set, and I would have bought the wrong one anyway), I didn't do too badly.  I also had some leftover lumber to use for other projects. Yay.

I did fine picking out 1x4s, though they had some really crummy ones in the pile and I had to dig a bit in order to find boards that were straight, not cupped, and not full of knots.  It was a pain.  Then I needed to find good quality plywood for the bases. I wanted 1/4 inch plywood, but I would have had to buy a $20 small piece per drawer, leaving a lot of waste.  

The lumber department manager convinced me to get a full sheet of plywood to save money and avoid waste, soI had him cut it for me in 25"x28" bases for three drawers, and cut the remainder in half to fit my car.  

The first sheet he pulled off and started to take to the saw was covered in so much glue that there was barely any wood visible.  He didn't seem to care until I called him on it and asked him to get another sheet that was of better quality.  I thought that for nearly $30, I deserved a piece of good quality wood, right?  Glue blobs? PLEASE!  I'm a novice, but I'm not that stupid.  

He also tried to convince me to use a really floppy piece of cheesy paneling for the base.  Then I started to suspect that he was either being spiteful of a woman carpenter, or just freaking clueless himself.  Maybe he had no vision about how a finished underbed drawer should function.  

He asked what I was making, and after I told him, he looked back with a weary expression and said, "This isn't a Pinterest project, is it?"  I said no, and asked him why.  He said that a lot of people come in having seen something on Pinterest, and expecting him to tell them how to make it.  Men and women.  I laughed and said that its my own design.  Hmm... That might have been worse. ;). I considered having him cut the boards, too, but then thought I'd rather do that myself.  Good thing I did...

The next day I measured and cut the sides, using my knee to hold the wood and my concrete steps...  Okay, I was planning to buy the recommended Workmate, but the Men of Lowes stated they hadn't sold those for a year and they didn't sell well anyway.  Here's what I think: newbie woodworkers like me either don't know about those small portable workbenches and how helpful they can be, or the ones purchased there are large workbenches for people with workshops, and they are experienced woodworkers.  

I've got a carport.  Lol. I need a portable workbench that I can store away when I'm not using it.   And how would a lass like me know about a portable workbench, when there are none to be seen in a local store?  I'd not heard of them before I saw mention of them in a book.  Fortunately, I did have a helper to hold things steady for me while I was drilling countersink holes for my screws.  

But I was on my knees on the concrete a lot, and it would have been helpful to have an elevated bench with clamps. I believe I could have worked a lot faster and avoided getting all achy on the cold, damp concrete.  Would have been nice!  

When it was time to attach the bottom, I realized that the wood wasn't cut square.  It was off nearly 1/4" on opposite corners, yet the sides I had cut and screwed together were perfectly square.  

As it turns out, Mr. "I'm the department manager and I've worked here ten years" isn't very proficient at using a panel saw. According to my brother, panel saws should be really accurate... In the hands of a proficient cutter.  I find it almost funny that I could have done a better job cutting my own plywood with a jigsaw, if only I'd been able to haul it home in one piece.  Maybe the inaccuracy of his cuts explains why he gave me a $10 discount on the whole sheet of plywood.  I wonder what it would have been on the unpaintable and covered in glue sheet he tried to pawn off on me first.  (Clueless, or malicious?)

Well, I made it work on that one piece, and sort of planed down the splintered edges of his cuts and the overhangs.  I wish I'd had a square and a workbench to use and repaired his messy cuts.  He ripped through the wood when he should have slowed down the saw to cut more smoothly.  All the edges of the cuts were splintered.  Doesn't he understand the nature of plywood??

Hopefully, the other two drawer bases I had him cut won't be too hard to correct.  I may not make three full drawers anyway.  Maybe two, and a smaller third.  

Unfortunately, the thick base means that my casters won't work, and I have to attach furniture slides under the drawers.  Or not.  But they might make it easier to use the drawers. I also have to paint and attach handles, but I think I'll hold off on that until I get the other drawers built.

My first drawer isn't perfect.  The bottom is a bit off square and it's heavy due to the thicker-than-I-wanted base, but I was limited by what was available and not wanting to waste wood with only one usable cut from a 4x 4 sheet.  Most of the pieces were 4x2 pieces and wouldn't work anyway.  

But hey... I made it to hide under the bed anyway, so it doesn't have to be perfect.  :D

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