I love my man cave. Everything I need is in here—comfy chair, man-size HDTV, large desk, sound system, big windows, you name it, I have it…or at least I thought I did. A few months back however, I discovered I was one piece of furniture short.
My disk is situated so that the television is to my back in order to avoid being distracted when I am working at the computer. I may have the television on if I’m just web surfing, but if I need to focus intensely, I usually have music playing in the background as I noted in an earlier post of Easin’ Along.
Around the first of this year I had a project (can’t remember what) that was simple enough even for me, a one-ball juggler. I reasoned that I could handle whatever it was that I needed to do and still watch football at the same time. I moved a folding table into the man cave and set it up in front of the television and began multi-tasking. In my mind, this was a temporary set-up and the table would disappear as soon as it had served its purpose.
After the project was completed I noticed that the “temporary” table had assumed a life of its own. Suddenly the table became a handy resting place for a few extra papers. My camera also had found a home there while waiting for the next batch of blog pictures to be downloaded. I found that it was more comfortable reading the newspaper while facing the television instead to turning to my right as I was doing now. Removing the temporary table was getting more difficult and ultimately I waved the white flag and admitted that I needed another piece of furniture in my beloved man cave.
Fully aware that Helen (adorable wife) was not going to tolerate a Sam’s Club folding table sitting out in plain view on a permanent basis, I put it away and went looking for an acceptable replacement.
I was also aware that furniture is expensive, and since I’m too tight to buy something new, I began to scour the thrift shops and flea markets periodically in search of a two foot by four foot writing table…with character. It wasn’t easy. I found one table advertised on Craigslist that was in an indoor flea market on the south side of town, but it just didn’t have the right “vibe”. Eventually I settled for a table I found in the Habitat for Humanity Thrift Store that was the right size and came in within my price range…$25.
This table functioned well, but the top was supported by legs that crossed in the middle rather than by the usual four legs and it was unstable. It rocked back and forth a little when writing on it. Also, the legs robbed me of the space I used for a small footstool that I had become very accustomed to having. This table would do in a pinch, but I remained in the market for something else.
I continued to resist the idea of buying something new, but I had exhausted the available thrift stores and decided to visit a store that sells unfinished wood furniture. There it was. The table was exactly two by four and very solidly made. The only problem was that the table had a price tag of over $200…couldn’t force myself to do it. Man, I’m tight.
As we all know, we’re living in the digital age, and there are lots of shopping options out there so when I got back to my computer, I searched Amazon for an unfinished wooden writing table…bingo. The very same table I had just walked away from was listed on Amazon for $100 with free shipping. Admittedly, I was going to have to assemble and finish it, but, what the heck, I’m just an old retired guy, and this would be the perfect retirement activity. I pulled the trigger and the table was delivered to my front door in three days.
In our previous home I had a wood shop in our basement and I had done some wood refinishing in the past and really enjoyed it. My favorite project was refinishing a solid wood picnic table that my brother-in-law no longer wanted but is now one of my most prized possessions. I was eagerly looking forward to taking on another project and the garage would have to be my wood shop for a few days.
Assembling the table was no big deal in that it only required the attachment of four legs using eight nuts, eight washers and eight lock washers. This took less than five minutes.
There was no need to sand the table–it was as smooth as glass. According to the paperwork that came with the product, it was made in Viet Nam from the wood of the rubber tree.
Before staining, I applied a coat of Pre-stain conditioner to help the wood absorb the stain more evenly. I learned about the necessity for conditioning when I tried to stain some window trim once without it and the wood ended up looking like a piece of marble with big streaks running through it. The conditioner dries in about fifteen minutes. It was time to apply the first coat of stain.
The furniture in the man cave is a dark shade of red so I chose a stain that I hoped would get me close and picked MinWax Sedona Red. I apply stain with a cloth rather than a brush because it seems to go a little faster and I have more control of a rag than I do with a brush. I used a Q-tip for the tight inside corners. Rubber gloves are essential for this task or else your hands will be stained for several weeks.
Each coat of stain requires about three hours to dry before applying another coat. I used three coats for this table to get it near to the color of my desk, and although I couldn’t get a perfect match, I was able to get it close enough to avoid a clash.
I let the final stain coat dry overnight before I coated the table with polyurethane. Again, I chose a MinWax product in a clear semi-gloss. I like the glossier coatings over the satin because the finish is a little harder. For this application, I used a china bristle brush and applied in long, even, brush strokes. Polyurethane takes about three to four hours per coat to dry and a little light sanding between each coat to prepare the surface for adhesion. I do this with sanding sponges in a 220 (fine) grit. After two coats, I decided to apply one more coat to the table top only since the legs and sideboards were fine. This meant that the final coat would be applied the next day.
Finally, three days after arrival, I had a new writing table resting comfortably in the man cave with my footstool underneath where it belongs. I hope you enjoy the pictures of my latest project. Let me hear about some of your projects in the comments section below.
Every blogger needs a good writing table and every retiree needs good activity. With both of my needs fulfilled for now, I’ll be Easin’ Along.