Alex Raichev

Woodwork Begins

The binge began in April when i finally tired of the slight surface stick of my painted-door desktop and decided to replace it with a solid wood one. Bless Trade Me, for there i found a second-hand oak coffee table for only 50$, which i then dismembered, narrowed, sanded, and oiled.

I laid it on drawers on one side and on the other side on two brackets i made from scrap mahogany and screwed into my filing cabinet at just the right sitting height (after padding with old bike tube rubber).

So smooth and classy!

From the leftovers of the coffee table and scrap vitex (Vitex coffacus), i made a monitor stand called Chunky to replace my old DIY ply stand.

So matchy!

At that point, i had no choice but to replace the chipboard and plastic drawers the desktop half sat on, because life is too short for crap furniture. (At least crap furniture made by others. Crap furniture made by yourself is a different matter.)

To that end, i found on Trade Me a free, abandoned dresser.

The seller had tried refinishing its top, dug down too deep, kept digging to hit solid wood, then ran out of steam. I guess he didn't realize the top was made of veneered ply.

Happy to repurpose the project, i took the dresser home and over three weekends cut free the left side section, replaced its top with the other side panel, stripped the paint to reveal a beautifully chatoyant mahogany, resized and refitted the legs, fashioned new handles out of scrap kauri, and oiled everything. Behold, Darwin the Drawers!

Behold, the desk complete!

Enchanted by fine grain, i surveyed the remaining furniture in my room. That slapdash pallet pine nightstand with screws showing: out, out!

I will fashion a replacement to satisfy my elevated tastes. I will fashion from kauri and mahogany Nigel the Nightstand. Bap baba bum!

On to the rest of the house next week!

In the meantime, i sobered up and took stock of my mistakes: crooked cuts, gappy joints, scrappy planing, uneven finishing. All minor but telling: it was time to learn the basics of woodwork. It was time to learn from Rex Kreuger.

I found Rex by accident and like his low-budget, beginner-grade, hand-tool focused woodwork videos. So far, i've gathered a basic set of hand tools, learned how to sharpen plane irons and chisels, and started learning basic joinery while building Rex's minimal timber workbench. More on that later.

But what's the point of all this? Well, i'm (a) enjoying myself, (b) learning a useful skill (c) without spending lots of money, (d) making beautiful, functional objects, and (e) sharing what i learn along the way with my patient friends. And with my girlfriend, who helps me carry all the second-hand furniture and gives great design advice. Chunky's legs are all her.

Author: Alex Raichev
Date: 2023-06-30