Many times when the average homeowner imagines or is actually observing a professional woodworker working on a project such as a handmade dining table or any other type of handmade wood furniture, they may be observing the final stages of work. For example, the designer of the table may be putting on the finishing touches, sanding, or polishing it to a high shine for presentation.
But, the truth is that the builder of the project has already been through many different types of normally-occurring complications to get their piece of recycled wood furniture to that point. Still, you can construct your own project if you are willing to take the necessary steps to do so.
The Builder’s Process
The first thing the builder did was the most obvious step, to figure out what kind of wood that they wanted to use for the project. Whether you are planning on making a certain type of slab furniture or a custom coffee table, the kind of wood that you should choose will make all of the difference in the end. Experts recommend that, for more contemporary style furniture, maple, beach, or walnut be used. Or, for a more country-looking style, cherry or oak wood are great choices.
It’s also a good idea to check your recycled lumber for nails or any other types of metals before moving too far into the project. Sometimes there is no telling where those wood pieces have been, so doing a personal inspection is necessary. The last thing you want to do is be using a valued piece of equipment just to have one metal piece or nail cause damage to it. Once you get into the flow of working on your piece, you won’t want to worry about mishaps like that, ones that can be costly.
Still, checking the lumber for metal pieces is sometimes taken after the kiln process. When recycled wood pieces are kilned, it means that they are dried out by an oven. The space needs to be airtight for best results, so many professionals use a dehumidifier. But, if you do not own one of these, then allowing the recycled wood to air dry in a place where there is decent airflow is acceptable. This process will obviously take longer, but it is necessary. Still, one of the best things about having the dehumidifier is the fact that recycled wood sometimes has insects that will die quickly in the suppressed heat.
Putting Together the Furniture
Now comes the fun part of constructing your handmade wood furniture, the part when you are actually beginning to see it come together. Most people already have a shop drawing or another type of sketch to go by from the beginning, they just don’t realize how much work they have to do before getting to the point of referring to the drawing to build the piece. For example, if you are planning on making a custom wood table, then you have likely already had it planned out perfectly for construction, and are just waiting on the moment to begin attaching everything together.
When you size for width, or ‘rough mill’ your lumber, be sure you have the correct plan for measurements. You have already been through a lot to get that piece of recycled wood to that point, and the last thing you want to do is miss-cut it a few inches. When you write out your sketch or shop plan for the piece, also write in the exact size of the edges and the amount of thickness you want. This way when you get to that point all you have to do is glance over at your drawing and remind yourself.
Depending on what you are constructing with the recycled wood (whether it be a wood slab coffee table or another type of slab furniture) there will be various things to do at this point, such as gluing, sanding, etc. The particular type of piece you are making will determine how much of any of these you will do, but there is one last step…to shine it up! Some folks enjoy using a spray gun, while others enjoy taking their time to apply oil by hand. It may take three or four coats depending on what type of recycled wood you are using. After that, all that is needed is a nice wax job, and you are done. Remember to allow the wax a while to stand before buffing.