I haven’t been pursuing photography much since Isabella was born. I shot a bunch of weddings this year, but now that Isabella is getting a little older, Amy has been doing everything-photography on her own while I watch Isabella. This works out because we keep the business going, and we keep Amy sane by getting her out of the house doing something she loves, and something that helps to support our household. And it’s working great, we’ve been busier than ever. But it does leave me longing to do something.

My interests are widely spread, and I really enjoy experimenting with different outlets for creativity. Last fall, my buddy Aaron invited me to take part in a weekly get together we’ve title Woodworking Wednesday. My first project, pretty much my first serious project ever, was a rocking horse for Isabella’s first Christmas. It turned out great, waaay better than I thought it would, and I learned a lot. And it’s made to last, hopefully a very long time.

To test it out, I gave it a ride a time or two…

I also think I was bitten by the woodworking bug. So much so that I think about woodworking projects all the time, and have created a few things that I’m pretty proud of.

The project I started directly after the rocking horse was a chair for Isabella. It was a little complicated, and I lacked the tools to complete it properly so I scraped that idea.

I then started on something else, something I thought was a little ambitious, but not anything I thought that I couldn’t complete – a dining table! I wanted something that I could gather family and friends around and comfortably have a feast. We had a pub style, square table, … you could get 6 people at it, but not comfortably. We needed an upgrade.

The DIY photographer in me said “Go cheap – build it”. The tinkerer in me seconded the motion, and the developing craftsman in me stepped forward and assumed responsibility. So I built what is now our dining table! Below are some photos of the process and the end result (all photos taken with iPhone).

I used 4×4’s for the base of the table – planed and sanded.

I used 2 x 8’s for the top, glued them together and sanded the bejesus out of them for levelness, simply because I was afraid if I started planing, I’d never stop. This required a bit of work because I didn’t have a jointer or thicknesser, but luckily, the table top was pretty flat to start with.

I used Minwax Dark Walnut Stain. It really made the grain pop.

For me, and probably most people, the staining/finishing of the piece is really where the pay off is. I finished the table with a bunch of coats of Shellac. While there are a lot of better options for finishing, I chose Shellac for one reason – it’s food safe – and Isabella still eats at least half of each meal from the table. So, while Shellac isn’t quite as strong as some other options (there is a ring from a cup of hot tea on there already and water can stain it if left there too long) it is easy to refinish when the time comes.

“Dad, your table is great, but that pumpkin is scary!! AHHHH!!”

So, this is the new Haby Family Dining Table. It fits the space, is over 7 feet long, and can easily sit 8 (more if the wine flows and people get comfy) and was done on a pretty low budget. Sure, it’s made of Spruce, construction wood if we’re being frank, but I made it and it’s the place where our family likes to gather most. Isabella has placed some teeth marks on the edge of it, so now it has history! Meaningful history. Down the road, when I make a better table out of better materials, I’ll use the wood with her teeth marks to make a shelf or something. 🙂

But the process of making a table like this was awesome. I learned a lot. I know the mistakes I made, and once you go through a process, you realize that what you just completed, … well, it really wasn’t that difficult!

Also, notice the wine rack on the wall behind Isabella? I thought that would be a nice touch in the room. Once I get started at something it’s hard to stop…. thankfully. Because as it turns out, working with wood is a bit of fun.

Here’s a few iPhone photos of the wine rack. It’s design is based on the Riddling Racks used to make champagne.

  1. Danielle Martinez said:

    Keep it up Howie … You have a gift.

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