24 September 2010

At Long Last!!!

At long last is right! It was only 2 years ago that I told my lovely and patient wife how I could save us money by building a credenza myself. I promised that for the same amount of money that we would spend in one of the "department stores" (Quotes used here because, in small town Chile S.A. there aren't any TRUE department stores.) I could build one that was not only better quality, but looked better too.The other part of the statement said something about how it would only take 2 months. Oh, well... the past is the past and now I have a finished credenza. However, that's not the end. There is a little bit of a story that makes this piece so special to us. This is how it goes...

This piece starts with me thinking as if I was still living in the States. Sure hunny, (my dislexic spelling of my wife's pet name, which really is honey) all I have to do is select some really good cabinetry/furniture grade plywood and then I can get started. I should have this thing done in no time. Ha!!!! Furniture grade plywood is, in small town Chile anyway, construction grade plywood but thicker. It's thicker so that after you have sanded off all the unfinished ply's you still have some kind of support. Fine, I got the wood purchased, but that was just the start of all the fun.

About the time that I got ready to start working with the wood I had bought
I went to pick up a few tools that I needed. Mind you that many things (most farm/plowing equipment and furniture) are still made with hand saws, hand drills, and gerbil driven table saws in this area. No, really! The tools that the two local furniture makers use are what my 1950's vintage woodworking books show as modern. Any who, I, being completely naive thought that, well, power tools are a dime a dozen and if I don't like the price I'll just buy online at discount right?! I mean, you only have to wait a few days more anyway. Yeah, right! Those are two things that don't exist here. Options, and cheap. So I bought what I could afford. I built this piece with a circular saw and a borrowed drill. A hammer drill at that. Here tools are 2 to 3 times the price of what you find them in the states.

Even still, I had the opportunity of having providing our neighbors with rumor mill material. Being the only foreigners in this small town can draw some attention even though you don't mean to. See, the house that we are renting was, at that time, and still is today (2 years later) getting a 100 square foot expansion. This meant that I had to do my woodworking in the carport. No big deal until I started fitting the credenza together. All they saw as this long rectangular box and so like any normal person would assume, I was building a coffin. Why a coffin? Why not?

That definitely drew some attention. Funny thing is, I couldn't for the life of my find any furniture clamps. So, I used my wife. Yep. Good thing she likes to read. She sat on top of the sheet of plywood and I shaved the edges with my good ole Stanley hand planer. Yet, no one thought that was strange at all. The construction of a plywood box had our neighbors passing by our gate to see what was going on. Go figure.

Originally the concept was for a chest of drawers that would be low lying as our home was originally more of a studio concept with the bedroom and living in the same open floor plan. In fact, the need for my wife to have a place to put her panties is what started this project to begin with. Imagine my surprise when one day I see her packing all her stuff in one of our pieces of luggage. I was sure she had had enough of this project and living here and was going home. However, my wife loves me and was only re-organizing her stuff.

Since then the credenza has been destined to be a buffet for the kitchen area, a normal credenza, and an electronics cabinet/entertainment center. I think now it will just be a credenza, and we don't know where it will go in the house. Looks like I built it just a bit to big. What can I say? I guess my eyes where bigger the our house. Not to fear though. We will definitely use it, even if I have to save it until the day I die and get buried in it. You know, the whole coffin thing doesn't sound so bad after all. Who knew...!


MoonDoggie said...

Hey stranger - glad you're posting again! Was just thinking about you yesterday too...

You have done an amazing job. The credenza looks the business, you skilled woodworker, you. Looks like you pulled it from a vintage shop (and you KNOW I mean that as a compliment).

What's your next project?

Eric McGrew said...

Hey MoonDoggie! Good to hear from you... I'm glad to know I haven't been forgotten by everyone. I'm really going to try to start creating and posting again. It's just been hard this year.

Thanks for the compliment on my credenza. I really did work hard on it. By the way, we think alike. I want my stuff to look like it came out of a vintage shop. So, I guess I succeeded.

As for my next project, ummm... well...?? I'll make that the topic for my next post because my life is still somewhat crazy at the moment. Nothing bad, but we're just busy.

As always, thanks for the encouragement and compliments!

Mick said...

A coffin, Oh thats a Riot! It Looks beautiful thought something to pass down and be proud of :)

John said...

I like it a lot. One thing the left door looks a bit splotchy - you can avoid that next time by first doing a wash coat of shellac - something like a 1/2 lb cut wiped on before the stain (it'll be dry in about an hour). Doing that will make the staining more even. Kudos on the design!

-- JOhn

Eric McGrew said...

Mick, thanks! I'm proud of it too and believe me, I'm very proud of it.

John, thanks for the advise. I will do that next time.

I made a mistake on the other side of the sheet. Therefore I had to use the unfinished side for the door face. I should have been more patient and just bought another piece. I didn't though, and now it is what it is.

As always, I appreciate your advise. It's helped me a lot in the past. Thanks!