Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Before we begin, allow me to sincerely apologize to my faithful reader(s) for my recent hiatus in Rubbish post-age. As some of you may already be aware, I was actually able to find a job about a week ago (according to my local Action News Team, I'm apparently one of only 8 people nationwide who have accomplished this feat in March) which subsequently led to me working far more hours (forty) than I had grown accustomed to (zero). My sleeping habits have suffered, my ass-scratching habits have suffered, several Somalians have almost certainly suffered, and my blog has clearly suffered as well. For the latter-est of these points, you know... my bad.

And now on to the matter at hand:

As some of you may recall, last year I made Mother McHanslaw a downright dapper silverware tray for her birthday, resolving what had been nothing short of a kitchen-based calamity in our silverware drawer. Well, with that time of year rapidly approaching once again (her birthday, not kitchen-based calamity season) I set myself to the task of finding another problem around the house that needed some solving.

With that finely crafted introduction in place, allow me to introduce you to the McHanslaw Manor's primary sittin' couch:


If you'll notice, there's a large Starbuck's mug precariously perched atop one of the arms at the far end of that couch, like a playing piece in some sort of high-stakes game of coffee Jenga. This is the exact location where Mother McHanslaw chooses to keep her coffee every morning as she reads the paper.



As you can see from the shadows in the first photo and the rings in the second, this tapered cube of a couch leg is barely wide enough to support the girth of that mug, though I must give credit where credit is due: Operating with a margin of error of less than 1/16th of 1 inch, my dear mother has never once spilled her beverage while trying to place it upon this most miniature of impromptu coffee tables. Though we're best known for our recessives, accuracy is most certainly a dominant gene in the McHanslaw line.

Despite her incredible aim, this off-label use of our couch has always irked the other 3 members of the primary McHanslaw cluster (myself included), so for her birthday this year I decided to retrofit our couch to make it a little more stable for this sort of use.


After getting the measurements of the couch legs, I picked up some nice beech wood for about $3.25 a board foot (this is apparently different than a linear foot, though I lack the mathematical skill and interest needed to figure out exactly why) from Paxton Lumber, which is a really cool and supremely useful low price (though extremely high quality) hardwoods shop over near the intersection of I-70 and Colorado Boulevard, for those of you that live around the Denver area. After drawing out the cuts I needed to have made, I ran them down to my favorite local True Value hardware store (who I'll probably plug gratuitously at a later date) to have them make my cuts for me with their mitre saw, as beech is a ludicrously dense wood and... well, I didn't want to devote 2 hours of shoulder-destroying overexertion to making all the cuts with a hand saw.

Once back at the homestead I glued the pieces together in the formation I wanted, a 5 sided box with the top slightly recessed inside the 4 side walls:


Like I said before, this beech I was using is a very dense wood. It's also not a very porous wood, so I didn't have much faith in the glue that I had on there. To remedy this psychological problem of mine, I drilled some holes along all the joints between the wood pieces, hammered some nails into them, countersunk those nails with a nail setter, then filled in the divots with some wood filler.

A little before and after shot, for your viewing pleasure:


I did mention that I made two of these things, right? No? Oh, well I did. When it comes to high occupancy seating, there's nothing I find more infuriating than a lack of symmetry.

Once those were sanded down, we were left with something that looked a little like this:



Now at this point I had a choice, as I could have just left these boxes in their current form and they would have been functional enough (after staining/sealing them, of course), but by happenstance I noticed that some coasters that have been in the McHanslaw family for ages just happened to almost fit perfectly into the tops of these boxes I'd made, so I decided to use my rotary tool to carve out a bit of the side walls to hold these coasters on top.

This ended up being an excellent idea, but unfortunately I got a little overzealous with the rotary tool on one of these boxes and had to fill in the sides with epoxy putty. See if you can tell which one it is:


Still, they both held their coasters just fine after the rotary work was done (actually, the epoxy one was probably a little sturdier than its more attractive sibling):


With the construction work out of the way, I set myself to hit them with some stain and polyurethane. I had no way to tell what stain was used on the couch originally (though that really wouldn't have helped all that much, since I was working with a completely different wood), so I took a guess and added a few globs of Minwax's "Red Oak" to a bowl full of their "Cherry" stain then slathered it on (results of this experiment to come shortly).

Since I didn't need to stain the inside of the boxes I kept my project perched atop some clear Solo cups during this process. Not only did this keep them from sticking to newspaper and other crap that might be lying around during their drying process, it also gave me the opportunity to take impressive, almost 2001: A Space Odyssey-esque, low angle photographs of my precious project:


Once the polyurethane had dried I lined a couple sides of the inside of the boxes with some stick-on felt to protect the surfaces on the couch (I'd originally planned to line all 5 sides with the felt, but the thickness of the felt threw off the fit of the whole thing, so I had to take most of the felt out).


After that, we were finished. How finished? Finished finished, that's how finished.







And, as you can see from this last photo, if you get the flash to behave just how you want it to... well, the stain came out pretty damn close. I was pleased. As was Mother McHanslaw.

Oh happy day!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As the coffee slurping geezer and proud recipient of this gift, I must say this is an ingenious solution and a beautiful present. When Junior McHanslaw discovers a problem and solves it, which he does frequently, it's always a beautiful thing!