Note to self, Process Improvement, The TV Console
Comments 6

TV Console: problems, problems

All is quiet in the shop. I have run into a series of problems with my current project and I am taking a break.

I vowed to be brutally honest on this blog. With each project I offer a critique; you know, what went well and what didn’t. I started a series of posts called “Note to Self” where I offer a lesson learned. And with this post, I am going to open up about the problems which have already surfaced as I tackle the TV Console project.

This weekend has been a humbling time in the workshop. I have quickly learned that when it comes to processing lumber like my African mahogany, I am woefully unprepared:

  1. I don’t have a jointer that can put a straight edge on long boards. I made a jig for my tablesaw that has helped, but I need a jointer with a longer bed.
  2. I don’t have a thickness planer. The mahogany has subtle variations in it’s thickness and some of the boards are warped. A thickness planer could help me fix this.
  3. I don’t posses the necessary hand tool expertise to correct the warped condition of my stock (about 25% of the 40 board feet I ordered is either slightly or significantly warped). So I need to take a class on hand tools. I saw a video about hand tools – it mentioned an improperly set up plane, for example, leads to some back breaking work. I can attest to this because I am worn out right now.
  4. I am going to need to order a little more lumber and my funding for this project has dried up. This makes me wonder if I should even risk any more money on it.

Most of my problems are associated with transitioning from going down to Home Depot and selecting the best, straightest boards from their stock and moving towards buying lumber sight unseen and having to make the best of what I receive.

So, I am in the least going to finish gluing up the boards to form panels for the middle shelf and the top. I will then locate a cabinet shop that can run them through a thickness planer and make them flat for me. Then we’ll see where the project goes from there. But I am going to take a couple of days off from woodworking first.


  1. Hey man, don't get too down on yourself. Most of what ails you can solved by the equipment you mention. I find the perfectly-straight-and-true issues are always a challenge.

    I grumble about the slap-dash way my boards get surfaced at my hardwood supplier and then hope I'm able to correct it before I get down to target thickness. I'm finding that I do at least two planing sessions (a week apart) in order to combat moisture or stress-related movement that comes from changing the dimensions too much.

    While the edge issues will be a snap with a joiner, the flatness of boards will always remain a bit of a mystery to me.

    The main thing is not to beat yourself up – consider it part of the process! I find that things generally look better under the light of another day.

  2. I'm sorry Jeff!

    I'm with Christopher. Don't get too down on yourself. Everything you're talking about SUCKS! Plain and simple. However, we've all been there at one point or another.

    Tomorrow is another day, and you will recover. No question there. You might consider.

    1. Make a gig, or router fence that can be set to join edges. Make a gig for joining the faces of the boards. Now your 1/2 way to flat stock and it won't cost you more than a router bit and some scraps of ply. Someday, you'll get………

    2. a 12″-13″ thickness planner. It will be the best $$ you can spend. IMO, don't buy a huge 15″ stationary machine. Instead buy a good longbed joiner and a portable planer. That is MORE than enough to get you through about every project for the next 10-20 years.

    3. Learning hand tools is both amazingly rewarding yet very frustrating. To each his/her own. I personally don't have a hand/power tool camp that I live in. Use what you have, and learn to use what you have WELL.

    3.5. Buy a 13 planner.

    4. Order more wood when you have the funds to do so. I'm sure your dad will understand the delay in schedule. Don't give up on it. You WILL become a better woodworker and will be glad you didn't give in to the temptations of putting this baby away.

    5. Did I mention the 13″ planner?

    6. Don't forget that every problem you experience now will help to avoid them in the future. Well ALL get to enjoy this part of woodworking. 🙂

    Take a night/day/week/month off. And whatever you do, don't forget that a hobby should be fun.


  3. Thanks guys – I am pretty bummed out right now, but I'll get over it and back to woodworking pretty quickly I suspect.

    All of this is very much a learning process for me because I would like to work with stock other than red oak, so while I take some time off, I'll still be thinking about the best way to proceed with this project.

    Thanks for the support.


  4. Jeff,
    I'll back Christopher & Jason . . . Don't sweat it.

    As far as your missing tools / skills, I'd say go the power route. While I have my share of hand tools and use them often, the flattening & straightening of boards is most efficiently done by machine (I'm into building as efficiently as I can rather than just for the sake of building).

    As for creating a straight edge on a board, you can always try a long straight edge & a router.

    For the jointer & planer, if the budget is tight, try Craig's list. As long as you know what you're looking for, I've found decent deals there (such as my jointer).

    Good luck with the project,

  5. Dyami – My break from woodworking didn't even last a day. I found a local cabinet shop that can slick up my boards and I glued some more up tonight with the hopes of taking them to the cabinet shop Wednesday or Thursday.

    I got a rough quote of $30 to have them sent through his planer, which is $7.50 per board – a deal considering all the work and time I would have to put into it.

    I also plan to join the local woodworking guild which operates a shop for members on the weekends. I have access to more power tools while my tool fund is replenished.

    Thanks for the comment.

  6. Jeff,
    Sounds like you managed a great solution. Glad to hear it. In the mean time, save as you can, and keep an eye on Craig's List. You'll learn how often certain items come up and what they should sell for (50% or less of new is my usual rule). Then when you have the funds and the right item comes up at the right price you can jump on it.

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