Downtime Diaries

My First Woodworking Experience

“Yet man will never be perfect until he learns to create and destroy; he does know how to destroy, and that is half the battle.”
Alexandre Dumas, The Count of Monte Cristo

[ Day 44 of 2000 ]

We are at the second part of the Downtime Diaries series, where I write about something other than finance, early retirement or frugality. In a way, it is frugality – we did save money by building this toy storage/side table instead of buying something off the shelves.

When we bought our house, we knew that the bedrooms were smaller than what we really wanted them to be. We were okay with it because one of them was not so bad. GBoy got one of the smaller rooms and it didn’t really have a lot of space for furniture. Decorating it was fun. We painted one of the walls with a window, a dark blue. We painted the rest in white. The windows had white trims, and it looked great. We got him this bed frame and this mattress from Amazon, and stained the bed frame a dark brown. I got him bed sheets and a matching comforter with dinosaur paw prints (cannot find the link any more!) all over them. I took one of the bed sheets and turned that into window curtains, and that made the room look like it was put together with a lot of decor sense. I also got some cheap canvas from Michael’s and drew dinosaurs on them. I colored the backgrounds and left the dinosaurs white, one per canvas. I then made them frames like in this Ana White video, and they came out pretty good. They were stained the same color as the bed frame. The room looked put together well, and I was happy.

Everything was fine until we moved in and realized that he had far too many toys and there was no way to keep that room neat and tidy. I did what I usually do when I have a problem – I spent hours on the internet trying to look for a solution, and came up with this link. That looked easy to build and would solve all my problems. The only issue was that he didn’t have space for a toy storage unit and a bed side table. And he really needed a side table – He spends a lot of time reading, and needs a reading lamp. He needs his alarm clock next to him so that he wouldn’t miss the school bus. And a place to keep water, and all the books he read, and is currently reading.
My Inspiration

I had never really done any wood working until that point. The blog post had detailed information on how to build it. And it looked doable. I was worried about wasting all that money on that wood, and not having an end product to show. If I just had to build the exact same thing, it would have been easy. But I wanted something with only two baskets one on top of each other, and the height required was fixed.

Converting it into the heights I wanted wasn’t that hard. I just wasn’t sure how much gap was required between baskets because hers seem to have quite a lot of gap. And I didn’t have that much space. I didn’t have all the tools she used, and I managed with what I had. We already had this miter saw and a kreg jig, because I always wanted to get into wood working. You might notice that they weren’t the expensive ones, but they did pretty well.

I built it, and it was fine on the first try!

Since then, I have been building many things with wood. It is very satisfying to build to turn a bunch of boards into something that can be used. It is way cheaper than buying solid wood furniture, and it is perfect for the space because you are building it for that space.

Those are old photos, taken as soon as it was built. It is well used, full of toys right now. His room stays clean, except for the bunch of books on top of that.

I expect to build many more things once I have time to do it. One more reason to retire as early as I can! By now, we have everything we need – I have been building stuff for some of my friends now. I have also been teaching a few friends how to do some woodworking. It is so rewarding to see their faces after they have built their first piece.

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About BusyMom

Mom, Software Engineer, Dreamer - Can't wait to be less busy! . Please leave me any feedback you can think of. I am still learning and anything you can tell me about making this blog better is very much appreciated. .
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7 thoughts on “My First Woodworking Experience

  1. Wow very cool! That’s a great way to get organized and stash things away. I don’t have any experience in woodworking either but it’s something that I could see myself trying in the future

    1. Thanks! I am proud of it. The fact that the first thing I built was something like that. I was pretty sure that I would give up half way through. But I finished the whole thing including the staining and one coat of polyurethane in a day.

  2. Nice work! I may need to try something like this, now that the twins have hauled in even more toys this holiday season. We try to donate the old as the new come in, but it’s not an easy job to convince them as it was before.

    1. With GBoy, I would have to tell him about all the kids who don’t get any toys because their parents couldn’t afford it. We were in India before, and he has seen some poverty so that made it easier. It was getting harder as the memories faded. Off late, we listened to Harry Potter 6, and that is the one where they describe Tom Riddle’s orphanage. He actually asked me to get some new toys to donate. They grow up fast…

      That wasn’t so hard to build. You should try it. I have since built smaller ones for our bed side tables too. The original site has very good instructions. You just need to tweak the measurements – not very hard.

  3. Where did you get your wood and how much did you save? “How to save X percent by building your own storage units!”. The bf has been wanting a new shelf. Maybe he can build his own lol.

    It looks super nice and sturdy!!

    I recently moved and visited a thrift shop for fun. They had the most beautiful couch and an armchair for $40 (kinda like in the below DIY tutorial) but it was kinda beat up and shabby. I figured if I could replace the velvet and restain the wood it would look pretty nice as the “bones” of the furniture looked fine.

    This is either going to end in tears, a 4 month long refurbishment, or I’m going to give up and buy a new couch haha.

    1. I got the wood at Lowe’s/Home depot. Got the cheapest ones – there is something slightly cheaper than pine, forgot what it is called. They will also cut it for you if you want, but the dimensions won’t be exact. The saw I have is pretty good, so I didn’t need that, except to fit in my car. The ikea baskets were 4 dollars each, I think. So that was 24 dollars. And the wood was probably 50 or 60 dollars. I don’t know what to compare it with, though. If you bought something it would look much better, not a bunch of plastic bins…

      Shelves are easy. There are a lot of tutorials online. It is always way cheaper when you build your own. And goes you that sense of accomplishment.

      Do write a post when you finish your couch. I am interested. Trust me, when you finish it, you are going to love it more than anything else you can buy. Even if it takes 4 months and you regret it while you are working on it!

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