Hi friends! My in-laws are here visiting for a week to celebrate their anniversary. I’m super busy with my jobs. It’s the last days of summer. So I’m taking a break! I’ll be back September 10 with a month 11 update (a few days late) and then we’ll get back to business! Don’t miss me too much!
I’m kind of obsessed with the new barnwood desks that I constructed for us last weekend out of very old wood from Minnesota. And I did it all without any woodworking. I don’t own any power tools (or even a manual) so these were made from planks of wood, as we bought them.
I don’t profess to know exactly what I’m doing, but I did a ton of research and am really happy with how our desks have turned out.
It all started with this ad on craigslist that I noticed WAY back in early May.
Yup, this pretty little barnwood shelf being offered for $50. I immediately emailed the seller (Hi Jenny!) and offered $40, because I knew my project was going to take a lot of work. And as you all know, we’re on a budget!
Jenny loved her shelves and said that since I had a neat plan for them and they were going to a good home, she cold give them to me for $40. Woohoo! I also bought a super cute barnwood folding wooden chair from her for $10.
Since we were driving our friends little car, the hubs and I actually had to deconstruct the shelves before taking them home. You should have seen us on the street in Gastown, hammering apart our wood. We were a spectacle, to say the least.
With the move and the furnishing and the travels and all the things that were going on, the desk project sort of fell to the bottom of the pile until early June when I laid out all the pieces of wood and designed two desktops. Lucky for me, the desks wouldn’t require woodworking.
This image is from my instagram feed… on June 6th.
I knew what I wanted the tops to look like. But I wasn’t sure about the legs. That is until I saw this guy.
And I learned about Ikea’s Vika Moliden nickel plated underframes, and my heart skipped a beat. So on a trip to Ikea in early July, I bought them.
But I STILL wasn’t ready to build the desks.
Because I didn’t know how to finish them.
Lots of sites on the internet (including this one) told me Howard’s Feed & Wax was our best bet… but we don’t have a ton of suppliers in Canada so I just sort of let it slide. And slide. And slide. Until last week when my teensy tiny little desk was driving me crazy and I decided I couldn’t take it anymore. It was time to figure out what to do.
In terms of finish, I knew I didn’t want anything that would cause us to lose the beautiful patina of the boards. I also didn’t think I wanted shiny. But I needed something that would be a little hard, because these are our work surfaces, and sometimes we rest our arms on them for 16 hours a day. (Unfortunately). So I was torn. Do we poly? Do we varnish? Do we wax? Do we oil?
So I spent hours in woodworking forums, and like a very bad blogger I forget where I learned that wax is softer than oil is softer than poly is softer than varnish. And oil gets harder depending on the type. And the number of coats. A little bit of further research answered my pressing question: if we oil the wood and it ultimately isn’t hard enough for our wrists, can we poly over it? The answer from the internet = yes. So that made my decision easy: tung oil it was. (I don’t remember why I chose Tung Oil, it was the same forum that made me choose that, but I just remember going into the hardware store knowing Tung Oil it was). So, with that, I was ready to start constructing.
The whole project took me from 8am (to pick up 1x4s, wood glue, Tung Oil, and lint-free cloths) to 7pm last Sunday. And started with taking my wood outside to sand.
I used 60 grit sand paper and a hand sander. (Also, a ton of elbow grease). It was totally worthwhile. I was able to soften the wood up dramatically, make a rounded corner (for our wrists), and not worry about over sanding (as I would have with an orbital sander).
Looking good right?
The next step was laying out the boards in the desk configurations.
You’ll notice the two end pieces stick out in one of the desks. That’s because we don’t have a saw. And It’s a great place to hide cords. To get rid of all the dust from the sanding I first used my blowdryer. But then I realized there was still a ton of dust hiding in the crevices so I vacuumed it. Then I washed it and let it dry while I got to building the bases for my desks!
Which required some 1x4s. And the building of four under frames (love Ikea). Which, in turn, created lots of garbage …
The bases for the desks are made out of two 1x4s and two under frames.
Since I don’t own any of those sawhorse things, I decided to build the bases first, then just construct my desktops on them directly.
I know enough about woodworking to know that I needed wood glue at this point. So, I followed the directions on the Gorilla Wood Glue package. But, since I don’t own clamps, and wasn’t in the mood to spend any more money (and also because I don’t see any woodworking in the near future), I used heavy electronic equipment in place of clamps. It seemed to work well enough!
After the glue had set, next was nails. I didn’t want any shiny modern nails in these desks, so I salvaged the nails that had been used to construct the original shelving unit… way back at the top of this post.
I nailed 1-2 nails in on each board to secure the boards to the 1x4s. And then I was ready for the finishing step. Step Tung Oil.
When the oil is still wet it is much, much darker than when it dries, but you can see the dramatic difference in colour of the wood but not in loss of patina.
And just in case you think I’m a super neat project doer because of these beautiful clean images to date… here you can see what our attic really looked like as the project was in process.
Once they were dry enough I got rid of the drop cloth and moved them to their final homes.
I then set up on the less good desk (the one on the right) and worked there for a couple of days while the hubs was in Ontario.
And here is how our workspace is looking today. When he got back, he decided he liked the desk on the right (the less good desk) better. Which is sweet for me. Because the desk on the left is a bit wider, so I get to sit further back from my big monitor.
You’ll notice our sweet cord management. (All our electronics are plugged in in this picture.)
My cords are managed by a $20 ikea cord manager.
The hubs’ by a concoction I developed out of a $1 bin at the dollar store and particle board that we found in the storage room.
Both work equally well and are awesome.
And here’s one more view of the pretty desks.
Yippee! Happy Friday everyone!
Guys! This is my 300th blog post. So, let me tell you some random things. Then tomorrow I’ll tell you about how I made our new barnwood desks.
A Random Number of Things in Celebration of Blog Post Number 300.
- Last night I made the most delicious pizza ever with a homemade crust, traditional pizza sauce, thinly sliced farm box zucchini, farm box cauliflower roasted (with garlic & lemon, thanks for the suggestion, Jenn!), farm box cherry tomatoes, and cheddar cheese. Who would have thought this would make the most delicious pizza ever?
- I want to enter this contest. Is it lame to randomly enter a contest that has invites (but also lets you enter without) without getting an invite?
- I’m swimming in tax forms as I work on the most tedious part (for me) of our new tax software start up. Yesterday I sang the U.G.L.Y cheer to an ugly form. Then How Bizzare by OMG came on Songza as I was working on a weird form. At which point I sang that song to my computer. The whole song.
- This song came on Songza two days ago, and I’m pretty sure it’s my new favourite song. You can get it here.
- Speaking of favourite songs, yesterday I realized that my all time favourite song is Stay by Lisa Loeb and Nine Stories, and my all time second favourite song is Torn by Natalie Imbruglia. Both of these songs are creeping up to their 20th birthdays. But I can sing them like a boss.
- I made these cute little polaroid magnets a few days ago. When I do an “office reveal” I’ll share them with you. They are cute.
- I bought a new (used) globe. I might be developing a globe problem.
- My favourite breakfast is oatmeal, but not in the summer. In the summer I’m all about cereal.
- Every morning I wake up and putter about our home like an old man.
- My husband and I work at side-by-side desks. We are both on computer mode right now, so we sit beside each other for 16 hours a day. We’re basically side-by-side for 24 hours a day right.
- Asia Miles is the worst rewards program ever. You earn lots of miles. But it is next to impossible to redeem them. Lame.
- The CapitalOne mastercard that I complained about so heartily in this post, is actually really really good domestically. It’s so easy to redeem points and you earn them really fast. We just got free flights to Costa Rica in ONE CLICK. Free. CapitalOne pays for fees and taxes and everything. (It’s a points per dollar system). You book your flights on your own, then go into the rewards centre and click “apply points to travel”. That is all. I’m a little obsessed. Also – the flights were a great price, so we used less points that we would have to otherwise. And we EARNED POINTS on the flights we got for free. All good things. So maybe I take back a bit of my ranting.
- That Gotye song just came on. This video made me laugh.
And there you have it: A Random Number of Things in Celebration of Blog Post Number 300.
Last Tuesday, I left you in late June 2005 when the (future) hubs and I were leaving Laos to spend just a couple of days in Thailand. The plan? Overnight train from Nong Khai (just across the border from Vientianne), getting off in Ayutthaya at the godforsaken hour of about 5:30 in the morning. Then waiting for the temples to open a few hours later, then spending the morning touring the temples with a tuk tuk driver. Then taking another train to Bangkok where the (future) hubs would get measured for a couple of suits, since he was only days away from moving to Vancouver to start his career.
I remember three things about the overnight train ride: 1) it was hot, and 2) most everyone was drunk (including us and some newfound friends), and 3) I barely slept. But our Ayutthaya stop came ever-too-quickly at 5:30am and off the train we got.
Immediately after storing our bags for the day, a friendly tuk tuk driver approached us and told us we could get started right away! And the best part? We were exploring at the ridiculous hour of 6am, a few hours before the temples officially opened. And the other best part? He really was a friendly tuk tuk driver. No friends’ shops. No detours. Just a friendly man driving us around in the early morning light.
And on top of that we got what is usually an obscenely crowed tourist site all to ourselves. Photographic bliss. Even with two teensy point & shoots.
By about 9am, we had got our fill of wats so we hopped on the next train to Bangkok. We quickly found a tailor for the hubs’ suits (which he still has). Then we spent the afternoon eating som tam (yum!) and shopping for cheapo t-shirts on Khoa San Road. Shortly after nightfall, we happened upon some of our friends from the train at a street bar in Bangkok. Ahh, the Thai tourist trail: I love you so.
The next day, the hubs picked up his suits and we boarded a plane for Hong Kong, where we would meet my parents. I would continue on for another three weeks of Asian adventure, while the (future) hubs would head to Vancouver to start his new career and to start making some moola.
Looking tres cute, all the while.
This week has been crazy. I’m tagging our Canadian tax software like crazy. I had a full day wedding out in Fort Langley on Saturday. And I spent all day Sunday redecorating the office and constructing barnwood desks (barnwood sourced from an old shelving unit I bought from an awesome craigslist seller for $40). A full on step-by-step tutorial is coming your way on Thursday, but for now some sneak peaks:
One of my most popular instagrams is of my brand-spanking new chalkboard wall. And I’m kind of obsessed with it.
I’ve wanted a chalkboard wall since … well since I got pinterest in early 2011. Maybe even earlier. But seriously, these little guys are so useful. Shopping lists. Meal planning. A clock. Motivational quotes. I’m loving it.
And, it was pretty easy and didn’t take that long. About three hours one morning and then waiting time for it to cure.
It all started with chalkboard paint from Home Depot.
Then early morning pulling of fridge from fridge-spot was accomplished on my own, and after a sand, a wash and a dry of the wall I was ready to go! (Note, I had actually filled all the holes on the wall about a month before I started this project. That’s how I roll).
I don’t have any images of the painting part (because I was busy painting, yo). But this is how cool it was looking right after coat number 2.
And after I pushed back the fridge (and tidied up a bit).
And after we got down to some artistic business (three excruciatingly long days later, as per instructions on the can).
Super cool right? I’m loving it! The only two tips I have are: 1) buy the kind of roller recommended on the can—one of my best friends needed about 5 coats for her chalkboard wall because she used the wrong roller, whereas I just barely needed 2; and 2) buy a good quality angled brush for cutting in. We were speed demon cutters, without tape, and with a cleaner edge. YHL has a ton of great info on how to paint.
Now, off I go to write on my new chalkboard.