Page 18 - Senior Times South Central Michigan - January 2017 - 24-01
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Page 18 Senior Times - January 2017
By: Frederick (Rick) DeRuiter
Woodworking... The word makes me laugh a little. I can hear my wife’s voice whenever I say it. “Don’t you mean playing in your workshop!” she’d say.
A little over 30 years ago my buddy Doug Cook and I would take turns hosting a night of video golf and showing off the newest ad- ditions to our man caves. We had challenged each other to always have something “new” to show off every week – and a “hobby” was born.
Today, what was once my man cave filled with sports memorabilia – has now become my workshop. Posters, plaques and furniture were shelved, stowed or given away, and re- placed by workbenches, pegboards and power tools. Other than working out in the yard... the workshop is my favorite place to be.
I’m not a carver or master furniture maker – more of a “hack” really.
The ideas for new projects come from web- sites, magazines, books, or television – even my head – believe it or not! Each new project is inspired by what I’ve found along the road, or sifting through garages and basements at estate sales, or even necessity.
I’ll admit the “what-if” pile grows faster than my production. But it’s always nice to have that pile to pull from when a little imagi- nation is required to finish the latest project sitting on top of my workbench.
A dilapidated old chair or dresser tossed aside has all kinds of repurposing possibili- ties. I never pass up on a box of mismatched doorknobs, dust-covered lumber, or a contain- er filled with metal do-hickies – if the price is right. Okay, sometimes, even if the price isn’t right.
Inspired by chance. I was at an estate sale and spotted a three-foot length of 10” by 10”
lumber. It was sitting beside a pile of trash bags, so the attendant was surprised when
I inquired about a price. The quizzical look on my wife’s face was accompanied with... “What on earth are you going to do with that?” I paid the $2 they asked for and hurried home to get started.
I sanded off the years of “garage” dust, carefully cut and sanded each end until they were “square,” then sanded it again until it felt smooth. After that, I applied four coats
of satin polyurethane, attached some felt furniture pads on one end – and voila – I had a side table that stands handsomely next to my favorite chair in our family room.
Inspired by need. The large expanse between my couch and TV, not to mention
the “hope” for a little extra table space for my burgeoning pile of remote controls, necessi- tated the need for a really big coffee table. My father has a wonderful pile of furniture parts he uses for restoring antiques – so after barter- ing some chores as payment – I had free reign in that pile.
The oak top I found used to be a dining table. The table leaves and legs were gone, it was smelly, dingy, kinda floppy, and stained by paint cans. Perfect. Now l had to find four
“matching” legs. I managed it, and was a bit lucky that they were long enough to be used for more than one project.
After dismantling the table, I sanded all the parts and legs – being careful not to remove “all” the finish. I cut the legs to the appropri- ate height, and created an attachment system that would allow me to remove them. I rebuilt the table, making it slightly smaller so that the apron closed tightly at the corners. After a few coats of matte finish, the bulky beast was ready for use. I explained it in three para- graphs... it took me three months.
Inspired by experience. Over the years I have acquired a fairly long list of tools – that, and the countless number of rebuilt and repur- posed home furnishings have given me a bit of confidence in the workshop.
That confidence has inspired me to take on larger projects such as kitchen and bathroom renovations. I have even taken on “new” builds like my bar, a dining room table, and an upholstered bench to go with it. I can safely say that there is at least one item in every room of my home that has been built and imagined in my workshop.
Woodworking? Nah... just playing in my workshop!
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