We call them strongbacks and we use them on every tabletop we build. It's just a scrap strip of 3/4" plywood, with 3/4" pocket holes drilled about ever few inches. The strongback is attached to the bottom of the tabletop as the glue dries. The square edge of the plywood prevents the tabletop from warping or cupping as it dries. Then we remove the strongbacks (and save them for the next tabletop) when we attach the tabletop to the base.
Okay, let’s stain this beast. I should explain that we used Rustoleum’s Dark Walnut Ultimate Wood Stain, but we did it wrong. We failed to mix it well before applying it, resulting in a color we really liked–but not the color this stain is designed to create. When we came back to do a second coat, we stirred it well, resulting in a coat that looked like purple paint. I had to sand it off and start over. So, don’t follow my lead here–follow the can’s directions and TEST before staining all of your new masterpiece!
There are lots of clear finishes. But for a combination of usability and durability, you can’t beat polyurethane. Oil-based poly, which dries slower than water-based, is best for beginners because it allows more working time. The other important difference is clarity: Water-based poly is absolutely colorless, while oil-based has an amber tone, which can be good or bad depending on the look you want.
Online plans can be easy, helpful, and can save you time and money if you put in the effort to usethem. But if you buy plans one by one, you might speed a lot of time organizing and searching for things to build as well as having to decipher different plan formats. You might learn a technique or two or improve your skills slightly, but you’ll forget everything by the time you go to find another plan. With organized lessons, however, you can always find the plans or instructions again easily, and come up with even more ideas of projects to build. Downloadable woodworking courses can save you money as well.
One of the best stud finders you’ll ever use is the Franklin Sensors ProSensor 710. It’s unique in that there’s a whole bar of red lights that light up whenever it detects a stud. Unlike other sensors, which have a single light that stays on as it passes over the wood, the lights on the 710 tell you exactly where the wood stops and starts. No guesswork. Push a button, drag it over the wall and those hidden mysteries reveal themselves. You won’t even need to read the directions!
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