As I finished my wife’s desk, I know I was officially hooked. I was unable to resist the urge to acquire more tools, including a used Delta thickness planer. I made a jointing jig so I could edge-joint on my little DeWalt contractor table saw. I upgraded my homemade router table to one of Rockler’s, with their insert plate and fence. And I managed to sneak a few other things past the wife into the shop, including my first Festool—an amazing little compact drill that I still use all the time and absolutely love. But she was beginning to notice it was getting crowded in the garage.
But after the desk was finished and people saw it, I started getting requests. My little sister bought a condo and wanted a headboard. So I found a local guy with a couple barns on his property. They’re full of junk and he’s trying to sell, so he’s tearing down the and selling off the contents, including the materials that the barns are made of. I went and took a look—turns out the barn siding is 5/4 local red oak. It has a beautiful weathered patina, still strong, and what I bought averaged out to $0.60/board foot! Also in the barn was some butternut and what looked to be chestnut. I immediately bought all the chestnut pieces he had, and brought some of the red oak and butternut home with me.
After selecting the boards and cutting them to rough length, I arranged them, edge-jointed them, and glued them into a panel using 3/8” dowels instead of biscuits. Some of the boards were warped and I couldn’t straighten them and maintain the weathered patina. So I knew to get them flat would take more pressure than biscuits might handle, hence the dowels.
I used two more boards to make the legs, and cleaned up one piece of the butternut (which was delightfully full of old worm holes) to make a top piece. Hit the barn boards with some spray lacquer and the butternut with some Waterlox. It was a huge hit. I’ve had people as far as Colorado ask me for identical pieces. If I had more time, I would do it—I think I only put 3 hours and maybe $15 of materials into it.
My older sister loves the barn wood so much she wants to do a whole ceiling in it and asked me to do a mud room bench out of it. I had a few more projects in line also but I knew that if I was going to use reclaimed lumber as much as possible, both because people like it and because I could get it so cheap, I needed to be able to mill that material into usable workpieces. That wood is anything but straight, square, and dimensional. So I needed more milling capability than an MDF jointing sled for my contractor table saw. So what appears on Craigslist that week? A Delta Shopmaster jointer owned by a guy 10 miles away. He used it four times in the decade+ he’s had it, and from the look of the machine and sharpness of the knives, that certainly seemed true. The guy was retired and cutting back on the size of his woodworking shop. He had done almost all scroll saw pieces and just never needed the jointer. But his son-in-law is a tool distributor (and works for DeWalt) so he got this jointer for a steal but never used it. So it came home with me . . . like it was meant to be. . .
The only downside is that now my 1-car garage shop, which is also mini-Costco, Shoe Warehouse, stroller parking, and a small Christmas Mouse warehouse, has a full-size workbench, a jointer, a planer, a band saw, a table saw, a shop vac cabinet, a sliding compound miter saw, wood storage, etc. There wasn’t much room left to actually work, and the LOML was not amused. I had been wanting to clean things up, cut down on the dust exposure everything in the garage got, increase the amount of storage, and increase the mobility of the tools so I can put them away when not in use and roll them out when I need them. And to do that, I needed to clear up floor space. It was time to learn how to make cabinets.
-- "Sometimes the creative process requires foul language." -- Charles Neil.