This was my first wood project ever. No prior experience and no tools. I started really from scratch. Thanks to Ana's website I mustered the currage to take on this project. Thank you!
I just want to leave a few tips for anybody that is an absolute beginner with wood working - things that I have learned along the way.
- First mistake. Practice your cuts with the circular saw before you get to used it. The offset of the blade thickness will puzzle you initially. Maybe I should also mention.. there is a certain way to hold a chisel. You got 50% chances of doing it right the first time :))
- The hardest thing for me was to find lumber that was in decent condition, not too wet, fairly straight and at low cost. I spent many hours in the big stores searching trough their stock. In the end one single board was a little too wet and soon after I was done is started to warp a bit. I did expect that and I used it as breadboards to prevent bowing along the tabletop.
Be aware that if your board is wet, most likely it will curve across width, especially if the section is cut through near the center of the tree. Looking through the section of the board, the outer rings are going to shrink more that the inner rings creating a bow that will push the center outward. See picture.
- If you want your boards to join perfectly you sould take them to a wood shop and get the sides straighten. Doing it by hand it will not get them right and it will take to much of your time.
At the shop you could also plane them and get them at the same thickness. I preferred to leave the imperfections on the surface of the boards but I wanted the same relative heigth along the edges, so the tabletop would be smooth across but not perfectly planed. If you are planning on taking some of the thickness off with a palm sander it will take you a week of sanding; the better solution is either using a belt sander or even a cheaper way is to get a Sanding disk that you use with a drill machine. See Diablo Sanding Disk Kit. It worked really fast for me removing material in the desired areas.
- Get some good quality Poly. It will give a professional look to your tabletop.
I tried the wood conditioner and then I stained the under tabletop with the Weathered Oak finish but I did not like the result. I let it dry and I was still not happy with it. I decided to leave the natural color of the wood and use only Poly. Some of the better brands are Arm-R-Seal or Old Masters. I applied 5 coats of General Finishes Poly with slight sanding in between.
I hope this helps.
I also finished the bench that comes with the table and they look incredible.
The cuts/assembly takes about 30-40 hrs in total (for a beginner). The finished product was done in about a month after starting lumber hunt and tool gathering. Worked on it whenever I could and some weekends.