I grew up watching episode’s of “This old House” long before HGTV and DIY Network even dreamed about being channels on television.
Yep, back then, it was Bob Villa’s, “This old house” and the “Yankee Workshop.” PBS at it’s best. Ha.
I’ve logged many an hour bringing my Dad tools or holding one end of a long board steady as he cut it on a table saw. I heard the “stand back” lecture countless times from both my Papa and my Daddy when it came to said table saw.
I’ve also said at least a million times, “my Dad could make that.” It’s a phrase my mom and I say almost any time we’re out shopping and see anything made from wood that’s beyond overpriced! Because truthfully, he could. He’s not a carpenter by trade, but he really can build anything…and do anything, for that matter.
For some crazy reason, I thought maybe it was in my blood, too, to be able to build something. I thought, surely, all those epsiodes of watching Bob Villa and all the times I spent holding a board had qualified me to be able to build something. It looked simple enough to me (HA) and I was especially motivated after reading the Knock-off wood blog, where an Alaskan WOMAN posts plans for all sorts of cute stuff! Stuff that we all drool over and dream about… like farmhouse tables, and Pottery Barn bookshelves, and platform beds.
I was in the market for some bookshelves for the playroom. My heart was set on something similar to the Pottery Barn Kids Cameron shelves, but my budget wasn’t.
(image from PBK)
I looked at some less expensive options, but I just couldn’t bring myself to pay $60.00 for basic particle board shelves. Especially since I wanted 2 of them. If I’d gone with the cheap ones, I’d have laminate shelves that I really didn’t like, that wouldn’t hold up well, and I still would have spent $120.00. I even considered buying ONE PBK shelf and squeezing all the toys on it, but I knew that wouldn’t work either.
Then, I decided I’d get my Dad to help me build some. He built Cooper’s play table from a picture I’d ripped out of PBK and it’s just like the picture, only better, because HE built it. How sentimental is that? I know how well built it was and I know MY grandbabies will still be playing with that table many years from now.
As I started searching the internet for some plans, I came across Knock Off Wood and decided that I, MYSELF, could build the bookshelves. The plans said I could build TWO shelves for $60.00 and that ANY one could do it! I was IN!
Of course, I got way over zealous upon planning my first project, and before even beginning, I had already planned to build a new kitchen table, and a bed for DW and I, along with my bookshelves. I’ve always believed in “thinking and dreaming BIG!”
When I told my parents and DW about my big plans they all suggested I start with the shelves and then maybe think about starting a new project. In other words, “don’t go buying the wood yet, Annie!”
When I showed my Dad the plans and told him what I was doing, he wrinkled up his nose. See, the plans called for a sheet of MDF. My Dad has a strong hatred toward MDF, also known as JUNK to him. He said if I really wanted it to last, I need to use real wood, but he told me to save money, I could use the hardwood plywood as a substitute like the plans said could be done. So I did, because he’s my Dad, and he knows. :)
I’ll just tell yall, when I thought of plywood, I thought of that really rough kind and couldn’t imagine how that would paint and look… but when I asked him, with a slight laugh, he told me there were different kinds of plywood and the “hardwood birch” is smooth and would be fine. And he was right…cause he’s my Dad…and he KNOWS…
I had my heart set on doing it all by myself. I wanted to say that I, ALONE made these. While, I can say I really did most of it, I did have a little help. DW helped me hold boards while I nailed because they’re long, ya’ll and I don’t know how the Ana held it all by herself and nailed at the same time. I guess that’s why she’s making tables and beds and writing plans and not me.
We got the plywood from Lowes, and went ahead and had them cut it into the dimensions I needed. This was a MAJOR plus, because it meant that I didn’t have to use the table saw. I am slightly scared of that thing. Could be the exposed blade, but my money is on the many lectures I received on “Staying back” from it when I was little. Plus it’s so loud and even sounds scary. Like it could cut your hand off scary.
The other cuts I made using a miter saw. I am pretty good on a miter saw and I really want my own for Christmas. For real. I want this one. Dad, I want you to do my Christmas shopping this year. Please buy me this saw. :) This one belongs to my BIL, Van, and it’s awesome. It has a laser light that makes making perfect cuts so easy! I got some experience using it when we did our laundry room cabinet redo. I totally owe Van a new saw blade.
After they were all together, my parents stopped by to check them out. My Dad is quite the perfectionist, and I knew they were good, but no where near perfect. He said they looked great to him and he gave me a few pointers on what to next time and what I could do to make them better.
He gave me some wood putty and let me borrow his big belt sander. I’ve only used a palm sander before, so I was pretty pumped to get to use the BIG DADDY. I guess he could see the excitement in my eyes, because he handed it over AFTER telling me to “be careful and hold onto it, because it’ll sand a hole in the shelves, and if it gets on you, it will eat the hide off ya.” Remember the table saw talks and my fear of those to this day? Well, even after visions of my “hide getting eat off” I am not scared of the belt sander. I held onto that thing so tight my knuckles were white, turned it on, and went to town! He was right, though, that thing will sand! check out all that saw dust…that’s from ONE pass with the belt sander!
I decided to round the corners of the shelves, too
After the un-even tops had been sanded down and all the cracks and holes had been filled with wood putty and sanded, I kiltzed and painted them. (I should mention that actually when they were built, I was so tired of messing with them, that they sat in our garage for TWO weeks, yes, TWO weeks, waiting to be painted.) That doesn’t matter, but I just thought I’d keep it real, in case yall started thinking I was something more than I am.
Now, the website, says that ANYONE can build these and while they are pretty basic, I can’t imagine having built them without never have even had a little experience with or around tools. But I do agree, YOU could make these. But trust me, get somebody to help you hold your boards!
I’m off to buy the wood for my farmhouse table.
It will be a while before I try that, and since DW said he’s not sleeping on a bed that I make until I’ve had more experience than building 2 bookshelves, that’s been put on hold, too! :)