Now for the shop details, for those of us who enjoy that stuff: The tools of the trade were limited but sufficient: electric jig saw, electric circular saw, two electric drills, hand-held belt sander and vibrating sander. Thank goodness for the resourceful tricks learned to pull while at the Farm—I was able to create a jig system for ripping boards and I jerry-rigged the hand-held sander so that it sat stationery, allowing me both hands on each board as I rounded all edges. Muchas gracias go to Mikey Herr who taught me the joy of clamps—they saved the day many a time. I’m also guessing his workspace would have looked as meticulously tidy and focused as mine did.
On to construction strategies: As you can see in the pic on the right, I chose to use drywall screws (since they’re cheap and since I’ve had very little experience with glues, biscuits, clamps and the like) to attach the side and top boards to poplar bracing boards. I was able to do this all from the inside/underside of the structure (no toenailing!), which makes for the cool effect of having no screws visible on the sides or top of the base structure. To cover for edge-ripping errors that would show had I butted the longsides of the boards against one another, I simply left between 1/8 to ¼ inch space between each board.
I’m really happy with the “hardware” of the base structure: Tina
Bo Bina picked out the perfect “sink” for me one day at Stout’s kitchen supply company in
The top shelf worked out real easily thanks to some good luck with my saw blades being set at an accurate 90 degree angle. I couldn’t avoid visible screws for this part, so on my dad’s advice, I bought brass colored screws rather than just using nails. Good thing: on delivery morning, dad and I accidentally pushed the fully constructed top shelf completely off the base. It flew off the slick, polyurethaned base surface, hit the hard concrete basement floor, bounced a couple times, and was perfectly in tact (other than one or two inaugural dents) when the dust settled. Speaking of durability, oak and black walnut make for a structure so heavy that should a tornado, hurricane or nuclear bomb hit Kate and Pat’s townhouse community, the kitchen set will surely be the one beacon of hope left standing.
This last picture shows the cool slidy-shelf feature that was another good dad-idea. You can also see the neat-o spice rack, which ended up both different and better than I originally planned. As for my final comments, I gotta say, building this “damn kitchen set,” as my friends got used to hearing it referred to, was like running a marathon—something that seems cool to me as an idea, but in actuality is a tedious lesson in persistence. I discovered that I’d rather spend a full day’s work outside throwing together the beams, joists and decking of a wheelchair ramp than inside sanding and shellacing the same five boards over and over…and over…again. But it truly was a valuable learning experience and an accomplishment that only my adorable nephew and his fantastic parents could have motivated me to do. Thanks to all who helped!