You know, while I’m at it making excuses for not woodworking over the past 6 months, let me throw one more onto the heap: picking up an old project, mid-build, is demotivating. Mainly because you have to take some time to figure out what exactly it was that you were trying to do.
Do you know what is motivating? Starting a new project (maybe that’s why so many woodworkers have about 5 projects going at any given time).
About a month ago, I bought this grill/smoker called the Big Green Egg. Like an egg, it’s inherently unstable so you need to have a cradle for it to nest in. Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with one and I do get a little nervous in using the grill in fear that it may tip over when I open the top up. What to do, what to do… so the company sells a table to provide it stability:
Let’s see what $1150 (that’s about what £750 comes out to) will get you: a
royal “fake” mahogany table that is “uniquely grained” in which you have to assemble with screws and bolts. Now, I’m not downplaying Andiroba (aka, Royal Mahogany), but it is an economical substitute to Mahogany, making it a somewhat misleading name. In fact, let’s call Cubic Zirconia “Royal Diamond” instead… I digress. But for a price-point of over $1000 for a simple bolt-together outdoor table, I would fully expect it to be made of solid Mahogany! You can keep your table, Big Green Egg; I’ll build my own.
From the Wood Fair I attended on Monday, I went to the wood supplier (“timber supplier”, they call it in Britain) that was recommended (2 minutes down the road!) and I was very pleasantly surprised. He specializes in Elm, Yew (which is also a very beautiful wood), and Oak (meh…). If you’ve followed this blog, you’ll know that I have a love affair with Elm. It was also interesting to note that he supplies boards to Hearne Hardwoods over in the States (which I’ve drooled over while surfing the web). He showed me a burl Elm log, cut into boards, while I was gathering wood for this build; I’m very intent on buying it at some point for $1600… (for ten 8/4 10’x15″ burred elm?!?! That’s a steal! That could make a matching dining-room set of 6-8 chairs, if not more!). Again, I digress…
The detoured Plan:
Build a simple outdoor table to hold my grill (to prevent it from tipping) using bomb-proof joinery. I don’t care if it has flaws or what type of wood it’s made of (so long as it’s strong)… and it’s a requirement to keep the price under $1000 (otherwise I might as well just get ripped off by Big Green Egg with their table).
Above is all the wood I need to build this: 3″x3″ Elm posts (for legs), an 8/4 Oak slab (cut in half for book-matching) for the table top, and a few 4/4 7’x6″ Oak boards for my rails/skirts and shelving planks. Of course, the dimensions of the design will change slightly to conform to the wood that I bought (example: 3″x3″ legs instead of 4″x4″ legs, or a table that’s 28″x57″ instead of 31″x57″), but every woodworking project usually goes through this same evolution. The “musts” that I cannot bend on: 1) that it holds my 21″-diameter grill, 2) that the table is flat, and 3) that its joinery is solid. That’s it. The cost of this wood? $225. It sure beats $1150.
The purpose behind the plan:
Other than gaining a table for the grill, I want to get my hands re-acquainted with joinery on something that’s a few steps down from “furniture grade,” yet something practical that I can still use (I’m not a fan of doing joinery on scrap just for the sake of practicing joinery…). Let’s face it, this will be an outdoor table prone to weather and its effects, so the joints don’t need to look good, but they do need to be tight. This should leave a little leeway for errors should I happen to make one or two. Bottom line: I get an opportunity at practicing a few more through-mortises with corresponding tenons before I continue my furniture builds of a living room table and a woodshop toolchest.
Talk is cheap, let’s get building.