So there I was, bored, and I mean bored, in a small room starring down the hallow TV pointed at my bed. My idle hands had come creeping back. I spent years with an instrument in my hands, mashing down buttons of a brass trumpet, pressing on the steal strings of an electric guitar and bass. Well now after almost 6 months of school, and 6 months of being a brand new vehicle mechanic and only fixing things, my hands were aching to create. Let’s face it, art is not my thing. I was never going to be able to draw anything close to what anyone in their right mind would consider art, so drawing was out of the question. I was stuck in a dorm room with neighbors all around me so a new loud instrument was out of the question too. But low and behold, that hallow television introduced me to something I could in fact do in my tiny room. Carpentry.
There was no way I could buy fancy power tools. They would be too loud, and well to be honest I was poor and they would be too expensive. So I bought a hack saw, a hand drill, a few clamps, lots of sand paper, wood screws and some wood glue. I drove the 30 minutes to my local hardware store and bought an extremely long 1×1. I had acquired a some heavily stained 1×6’s from a pallet at work, and I was ready.
First step, I needed to clean up the boards a bit. With no electric sander, I took some 80 grit paper and attached it to a small block with some finishing nails and got to sanding. About 2 hours later both me and my entire room were covered in saw dust. To give you a good idea of how it looked, imagine if someone took a big bag of saw dust and threw it into an osculating fan until every surface was a faint tan color. But guess what? The boards were cleaner, but still needed a lot more work. My aching hand attached 120 grit paper and went back to work. By the end of the day I was exhausted from sanding, my arms hurt, my hands were falling off, and it was time for me to sleep.
Oh unexperienced me. I fell asleep with the dust still in the air. I breathed in so much saw dust I was coughing up trees for three days. My lungs burned, my snot was black and I could hardly breath, but I was not a quitter. The next day I vacuumed up the dust with my tiny vacuum and got back to work.
With my hack saw I cut the boards to length. No board had a straight cut. Everything was just slightly off, no matter how hard I tried it was impossible to cut through the boards with a hack saw. It was time to upgrade. I ran to the store and bought a proper hand saw with great teeth. When I got home, I had cut through the board easier, but not that straighter.
Next was to glue it up. I slopped glue on the ends of the boards and clamped those babies together TIGHT! It was night again and time for me to sleep, this time saw dust less, so I could breath easier.
The next morning, the boards had shifted. The second board was up higher on one side than the other and it all looked messed up. This brought me down big time. I left the boards in the clamps and didn’t touch them for days.
About three days later I got my second wind. I measured out the 1×1 and cut out four pieces 8 inches long. I cut 2 pieces about 18 inches long. With my hand drill I drilled holes half way on the 8 inch pieces. This hand drill was not that great and the handle kept hitting my knuckles as I turned it, so my knuckles were all cut up by the time I was done. But I was done.
I went to the store again and bought dowels big enough to fit in the holes I drilled and some band aides. With bandaged knuckles I glued my pieces together with the dowels and clamped them down. The next day everything turned out great. The only thing I needed was to fix my ugly boards.
A new planner was in my future. Again I ran to the hardware store and bought a small hand planner. I began to plan. And plan. And plan. And plan. Until finally everything looked even. I took to sand paper again, this time 220 grit. After a few hours and being covered in dust once again the boards were nice and smooth. Again I was breathing in dust nice and heavy. There wasn’t five minutes between my sneezes for three days. Each sneeze shot out a thick black booger. Lets just say I wasn’t the most attractive over the next three days, but I was close to finishing my creation.
I drilled some holes in the boards, it was time to attach the pieces I glued up. With some wood screws, a screw driver, and a lot of determination I screwed the pieces to the boards.
IT WAS COMPLETE! I had done it. Me, this unskilled, untamed beast had done it. I made a tray table. I was so happy, I held my creation up like Simba on the Lion King. There was no prouder person in that moment than me and I had no shame in showing it. I took my new creation and set it on the ground…. The legs were a tiny bit off… it wobbled…
BUT WHO CARES!!! I built it! It was a freak of a tray table, but it was mine.
Cut to two years later and I have more power tools than I know what to do with. My wife bought me a respirator, so no more dust up my nose. I am building work benches 7 feet long and 4 feet high. I made a dining room table able to fit 8 people. I am a skilled carpenter and this all comes back to my wobbly tray table that still sits by the bed I built.