Ghosts of projects past

May 11, 20151 Comment

Hopefully you’re not reading that title and thinking this post is about projects that haunt me. While there are plenty of them, that’s not what I was thinking about when I decided to write it.

Not all ghosts are scary...

Not all ghosts are scary…

Instead, when I sat down at the keyboard, I had just finished wrapping up the final footage of the finishing process for Madison’s Tall Dresser (more on that in a later post.) And as I’m prone to do at the end of a long project I get a little sentimental, especially when it’s something I just built for my immediate family.

Without a doubt I am my own worst critic (I even top some of the trolls on YouTube that hate me.) But when there’s been a little time between completing a project and revisiting it, I start to see signs of a not so bad woodworker. Don’t get me wrong, I still see all the flaws, but I also see beauty too.

This time around it has me thinking about how important it is to revisit and look at our past projects with a different perspective. And yes it’s even important to revisit the ones we hide behind closed doors and hope no one ever sees. Perhaps it’s even more important to revisit those ones to remind us of how far we’ve come.

I have plenty of projects I can revisit, a few you may have even seen on the show over the years, and because most of them belong to family members it’s very easy for me to stop in and see them. And as I do, I plan to take you along with me to see them also. So let’s get started!

The very first project I can ever remember building in my own shop was a horrific “shoe shelf” for my then live-in girlfriend, now wife, Samantha. It was made from leftover shelf parts I found in the basement of my first house.

Apparently at the time I assumed it only needed nails and that would be it. I’m only half-joking when I say it held up two pairs of shoes before it collapsed under all the weight. I’d share a picture, but it was tossed in the garbage the same week it was built.

But the next project I built, and actually attempted to put some heart into, was a something I found in a book my future mother-in-law bought me as a housewarming gift (and possibly as part of a bribe to move her daughter in sooner than later?) The book was “2X4 Furniture: Simple, Inexpensive & Great-Looking Projects You Can Make” by Stevie Henderson.

The project was a plant stand and I remember thinking it was a perfect present for her on Mother’s Day given her green thumb, and I won’t lie and deny I was trying to win some bonus points with Samantha either…if you know what I mean?

That was about 17 years ago and my mother-in-law still has it. Of course it’s off in the farthest corner of her basement under a ton of unused Christmas ornaments, but it’s there regardless.

As you can see in the images above, it’s unfinished (we thought she’d decorate it herself since she’s an artist of sorts) and still has remnants of the wood putty I bought by the 5-gallon drum at the time.

Just like with the mythical shoe shelf, my understanding of wood glue was still almost nil, but there are signs I used it. Unfortunately this project was my first lesson on how sometimes the end grain wicks the glue away before it can set up. Thankfully, my concept of nails was still pretty solid. That accounts for all the ones still holding the top and foot in place (sort of.)

I remember discovering almost immediately my frustration with finding boards at the local home center that were straight and flat enough to work, and wondering if every woodworker struggled with it too.

So many other lessons came from this first project, ones that will show up elsewhere in ones still yet to be shared.

I showed you mine, you show me yours (woodworking projects only please, this isn’t that kind of website…) Leave a description below, share it on the show’s Facebook Page or send me a picture and a description to share in upcoming “ghosts from the past” posts by visiting our “Contact” Page by clicking here.

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  1. Next project down memory lane | Matt's Basement Workshop | May 18, 2015

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