I am quite excited as I have just finished my first ever project. I only just started furniture making evening classes last September and at Christmas got my first commission to build a small oak coffee table for my sister in law, Tessa, who had her birthday last week. I had already sourced the wood, European oak, in October and after letting it settle indoors started work in December. I have limited access to machinery so the mortice and tenon joints were all cut by hand. The first problem I encountered was when I came to finish the table tops by hand plane and had major problems with tear out. Fellow Lumberjocks come to my rescue and I managed to sort this out with a belt sander. I had decided to finish before glue up and had some helpful advice from Scott Bryan (many thanks Scott) about using General Finishes Arm-r-seal wipe on urethane. I found it really easy and would definitely use again. For the top I gave a daily thin wipe over and lost count of the number of coats but it was probably close to 10. Gluing up was frightening. I used polyurethane glue which I found difficult to use but took it slowly and everything ended up square but a little messy. I have since used Titebond which is much easier and I will probably stick with. Working to a tight deadline was not a good idea as I started to rush and made a few mistakes at the end which I was able to deal with but things could have been much worse. I was pleased with the final result and importantly so was Tessa. As a result, she has asked me to make a large dining room table for her next birthday.
I have learnt a lot already and am especially grateful to all the L-Js that took the time to give a newbie advice.