Why I haven’t been blogging

Reason #1 for not blogging: Work.

And lots of it lately. 18 days in a row just ended. I used to have the greatest job in the world. My days were filled with creative challenges and writing. The key word is “creative.” Then the recession came and the first to go were the administrative assistants for the department. But the work didn’t leave with them. It flowed to the rest of us and we started wearing two hats, and in the process my job went from creative work to administrative chores. And, as the admin work has stayed with us and increased, my need for a creative outlet moved to other areas – like woodworking and upcycling furniture.

I’m getting better at woodworking. The number of mistakes I make during a project is going down. For the door in the picture, I used bird’s-eye maple and walnut on this door and finished with 7 coats of Waterlox Tung oil. I started with raw pieces of wood and cut and sanded it all myself. I learned a lot of lessons in the process but I’m happy overall with how it turned out.

You can never, I repeat, never, have enough clamps in life.

You can never, I repeat, never, have enough clamps in life.

Found a Fox door handle. I miss Fox. Who knows, perhaps he'll return one day.

Found a Fox door handle. I miss Fox. Who knows, perhaps he’ll return one day.

I saved a $85 pine coffee table I found on Craigslist. It was in bad shape, legs falling off and cracked legs, a purple flower painted on it, and a nasty painted finished. I stripped it, fixed each leg with pocket holes and wood glue, and used a homemade vinegar/steel wool stain to give it an antique look. I applied three coats of Briwax and now I have a very sturdy coffee table that my 12-year-old daughter can beat to hell and I don’t have to worry about.

More clamps. It took at least this number of clamps to fix each leg. Sometimes more. It was puzzle-like.

More clamps. It took at least this number of clamps to fix each leg. Sometimes more. It was puzzle-like.

I used my apple-cider vinegar steel wool mix again. Half is finished and waxed here.

I used my apple-cider vinegar steel wool mix again. Half is finished and waxed here.

I found a rocking chair at a local consignment shop for 200 bucks. It’s solid tiger oak, which is one of my least favorite woods. So I did some light sanding of the peeling varnish and used Chalk Paint and dark wax to age and bring it back to life. I was going to sell it but I ended up giving it to my sister-in-law because she liked it and I think it’s cool that she’d put it in her house. Let’s keep it in the family.

This is the "before" shot after I sanded off all of the peeling 1960s varnish.

This is the “before” shot after I sanded off all of the peeling 1960s varnish.

Making the world more colorful and saving furniture one piece at a time.

Making the world more colorful and saving furniture one piece at a time.

Back to blogging.

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Craigslist find: Two driftwood benches

My wife, daughter, and I search for driftwood when we go to the beach. So far, we’ve had little luck. We found a 1-foot piece but I left it on our back patio to dry off and our black lab chewed it to pieces. Then we found a nice, hefty 2-foot chunk when we stayed at the Marriott in Ventura. I hid it in the parking lot because it was wet and smelled. Then it rained overnight and soaked the wood, strengthening its odor and increasing its number of flies. So we abandoned it in the parking lot and drove home.

This piece was ginormous. Around 8 feet long. I would have needed a crane or team of vikings to lift it up and get it home.

This piece was ginormous. Around 10 feet long. I would have needed a crane or team of vikings to lift it up and get it home.

Then we discovered a giant piece of driftwood that looked like a dinosaur fossil, (pictured to the right), but I couldn’t figure out a way to get it home.

This makes us 0 for 3 when it comes to driftwood hunting.

Until today when I hit the mother lode of driftwood – on Craigslist.

My Craigslist app beeped and showed two driftwood benches in my city. $25 each or $40 for both.

40 bucks? Seriously? For giant pieces of driftwood? Bargain alert.

This bench is 7-feet wide and heavy. But oh what a piece of wood it is. Or pieces of wood.

This bench is 7-feet wide and heavy. But oh what a piece of wood it is. Or pieces of wood.

I believe in luck and making your own. No hesitation, I called the seller and told him I’d buy both benches. At lunchtime, my neighbor in tow, I was at his house with $40.

Lesson learned today about large pieces of driftwood: they weigh a friggin’ ton. It took all three of us to lift the large bench down a flight of outdoor steps – one step at a time. Then we had to lift it up and into the bed of my friend’s pick-up truck.

The seller was super nice. He said he received several calls after mine, and a couple of people offered him more. And he didn’t say this next part, but he still honored the deal and didn’t sell to the other caller. I respect that in this today’s world of “anything for a buck.”

This is the small bench. It's almost 5-feet long and takes two people to lift it.

This is the small bench. It’s almost 5-feet long and takes two people to lift it.

I looked up driftwood benches when I got home. I found one that was similar and sold for $600. Now I feel guilty about the great deal I got.

Should I?

I am thinking of sending the guy a thank you note and $20 in the mail he can put in his son’s college fund. I know. I’m nuts. But if I ever wanted to sell these, I could make a good chunk of change. 

What would you do?