Montreat Side Table
Comments 6

Should I Say “No”?

Note: I have a brief update on my side table project at the end of this post.

I have learned to recognize “the look”. The look usually happens during some casual conversation about my weekend. “How was your weekend?” a friend might say. I usually reply with something related to woodworking. If the look is going to happen, now is the time. In one such example I was at a customer location talking with one of the customer’s employees. When she realized I am a woodworker, this look came over her face. It was like I could see the thought forming in her mind. “You know, I have a bed I need a headboard for; nothing fancy, but I do want upholstered panels in it.”

Typically, I can point out my lack of time available to take on such a project and then how incredibly long completing it would take and the look disappears. But this kind of thing happens enough that I can anticipate such requests a second of two before they happen.

However, the look doesn’t work with phone calls. Recently a neighbor of mine, a really good guy, called me with a woodworking request. He had an old, but sentimental piece of furniture come into his possession and he asked if I could help him refinish it. I am not a refinisher; in fact I consider finishing furniture to be my greatest weakness. Several times I have built furniture, being very pleased with how it looks in a raw, unfinished state. Then stain or finish goes on and disappointment sets in. It happened with my workbench when I put boiled linseed oil on it. The color was very amber and I should have tested it first, but didn’t. The color has already aged and I have grown to like the look, but this is a recent example of finish let down.

Back to my neighbor – I immediately began to back pedal and tried to come up with more convincing reasons he didn’t really want my help, but I quickly realized he DID want my help and I could sense his disappointment in my lack of caring for his situation. I decided to change my attitude and offered my help. There is no firm start date for this project. And I may have blown the opportunity to help him.

I have come to automatically reject any request for outside projects or helping others with their projects; automatically saying “no”. Even with family members. It’s mainly because the requests for help or whole project builds come fairly regularly. I have a stressful job which involves considerable travel, so shop time for my own projects is scarce. Adding more to my list of open projects is not a good idea for several reasons.

But, I have taken on two additional projects. Both projects have actually started since I have begun conversations about the scope of each one. The first is a moderate size box for a friend (should not be difficult to build and I have been paid most of the money upfront) and the second is a custom woodworking plan for a family friend (family friend means the plan will be created free of charge). Both projects are for special people in my life and I’ll simply have to work them into my schedule. Should I say no? Most of the time I have to, but I am going to loosen up a little.

A quick update on the Montreat Side Table

You know how I finished getting my bandsaw in fabulous working order? I spoke too soon. I was resawing some of my thick white oak to make stretchers and aprons for the Montreat Side Table when the blade came off and bounced around inside my bandsaw for a second or two. This was a new 3/8″ blade. I was pulling the board out of the cut with the saw running when it happened. Thinking this was my fault (which it was), I went to Woodcraft and bought a proper blade for resawing, went right back to splitting the thick oak in two when not only did the resaw blade come off, but the lower tire as well. At this point a little reflection was in order: two bent bandsaw blades and a problem with the lower tire; about $80.00 in ruined blades and I’m not sure what to make of the tire coming off. There is a Jet repair shop in Birmingham, so I’ll be loading my bandsaw into my dad’s pickup and I’m going to let them fix it. Woodcraft does have a killer Rikon bandsaw on sale this month and it would look so incredibly awesome in my workshop, but I really need a floor standing drill press. So I am first going to see if I can get the bandsaw repaired. This felt like a workshop crisis when it happened, but no big deal really. I’ll survive. 🙂

Resawing using a table saw is an alternative to using a bandsaw, but this is a less than ideal method. In fact I heard the guys at Shop Talk Live talk as if this was a ridiculous way to resaw. Ridiculous or not, I was able to accomplish what I needed and got the stretchers, aprons for the sides and back cut to final size.

Legs in the background then aprons and drawer front.

I used this cute, tiny Woodpeckers square during this process.

Front/back stretchers (longer boards) and side stretchers.

Antique wooden body hand planes.

The drawer front isn’t actually cut to final size. It will get a little fine fitting later.

You can also see some antique wooden body hand planes I bought which I have begun to work on. I got the three for a total of $35 at a silent auction at my guild. Two are shoulder planes, the other is a molding plane. For the Montreat Side Table, the aprons and stretchers will be joined to the legs via mortise and tenon joinery. I hope to get at least one of the shoulder planes in working order in time for trimming the shoulders of the these tenons.

Next for the Montreat Side Table

Front view.

Side view.

So, tenons are next. With them finished, the table will actually begin to take shape. I’ll also form the angular detail for the stretchers shown in the images above.

* * * * *

Have a question or comment about this post? Leave me a comment below; but I also like email. Use my contact form to send me an email (click here).

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During the week, I sell flooring products for The Dixie Group. Weekends, you'll find me in my basement workshop making furniture.


  1. airmedic6 says

    Always enjoy your blogs! You must know that “look” comes from a nonpractioner seeing real woodworking as a mystical art! 🙂 And of course they want your help!

    • I know and I hate to disappoint such requests. Maybe in my retirement years I’ll write a very different blog post.

  2. That table is shaping up. I often get the request for a project. Luckily for me, my wife is often around when that request is made and she takes ver with, “As soon as he finishes my X or when he retires.” and I don’t have to say a thing. Doesn’t work fore everyone.

  3. David Chang says

    I too enjoy your blogs. Should you say No? I notice your two additional projects are for special people in your life. There’s your answer. Keep up the good work!

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