Good morning folks!

If you have children in your family whether your own or closely related, then you probably understand the mountain of little toys, changing materials, books, crayons… the list goes on. Our living room situation was no different; once we couldn’t get to our couch without stepping in 3 Duplo blocks, 2 cars, and at least snap 1 crayon we knew a solution was required.

We knew we needed something to accommodate our storage needs, hide the toys when they aren’t being used and of course hold our television. Doing some research on various designs we finally come to a conclusion; again using Ana White‘s site for references we found the following:

The design allowed for us to have two sections open for our daughter to take toys from and two to keep things like movies and gaming consoles. We were really excited to put together the barn door hardware. There are several places to find tutorials on the hardware which would save you tons.

We liked the idea of matching the paint and stain finish with our bed frame, even though the two pieces are not in the same room. Having the top piece remain close to the grain was a nice feature but we also liked the idea of the face frame being wood as well. So it was off to the home center to fill up on lumber.

Luckily I had some plywood left over from breakfast nook and also seemed to have a handful of 2×4’s laying around the shop. The vertical supports were built from a resawn 2×4. The original plans do not call for these but I didn’t feel comfortable with only have the stiles as supports. I also built a few back supports as well but aren’t pictured in this step. As shown above the frame was out of square a bit but nothing some pressure across it’s diagonal couldn’t fix.

Some of you may recognize the wood used to build the face frame. Or at least notice that is not your run of the mill home center pine. When I told my father about my next project he insisted to send me several board feet of beautiful 4/4 cherry. I decided to use the cherry for the face frame and the top which will come up later. The stiles and rails were joined using mortise and tenons. Being the second case of mortise and tenon joinery, I made sure each board was S6S (square on all 6 sides). This made the joinery much tighter and smoother. I then used biscuits to align the face frame to the body.

We loved the idea of having a butcher block style top with 4in wide planks. This made the glue up quite precarious but biscuits and taking my time with several glue ups helped make a stressful task seem simple. The parallel clamps were life savers to put significant pressure while also extending the pressure throughout the joint. Since there were 2-3 boards attached by butt joints I needed a pair of pipe clamps to pull them in tight horizontally; I used scrap pine between the wood and pipe clamps to keep the rust from bleeding into the cherry.

The joints closed in tight and have remained that way over time. I cut a chamfer on the edges to save our fingers with my block plane and smoothed the surface with a #4 plane. This was my first experience using hand tools and…. I realized that I clearly didn’t acknowledge grain direction. The chamfer wasn’t too much of a problem but the smoothing didn’t go very well. There was a good amount tear out every other board. So I went back to the sander: 80-120-220 grits. The surface smoothed back out and was ready for finish.

First came the paint; left over white from the nook. It only took about 2 coats and I didn’t both with the bottom and top. Right about this point I recognized that I didn’t learn from my previous projects; I should have painted the body and finished the face frame. Instead I had to tape off each separate part to ensure I didn’t paint cherry or finish pine.

What finish? So far I had only used paint, midway stain, and polyurethane in my projects. I wanted something better, easier, more “fancy” to match my found love for hardwoods. I stopped by my local WoodCraft and picked up a can of General Finishes Arm R Seal. At $12 a can it was a bit more than minwax’s wipe on poly but I have heard and seen great things from Marc Spagnuolo at The Wood Whisperer. So when given the chance to use a better product I jumped at the opportunity. I put about a 1/4 cup of Arm R Seal in a dollar store Tupperware; this keeps the whole can from getting contaminated. Using an old cotton t-shirt dipped in the finish and wiped it along the grain. The first coat got sucked into the wood pretty quickly so I didn’t need to wipe away much if any excess. I let it set outside to dry and in the heat of the summer only took about 5 hours oppose to the normal 8. After it dried I gave it a light sanding with 300 grit sand paper just to knock down the dust nips and little bugs that landed and stuck to the finish. Than applied the second coat following the same process increasing the grit every coat from 450 to 600 to 0000 steel wool. 

Finally the top was attached using cleats and elongated screw holes to allow for wood movement.

As you can tell we decided to postpone a few features such as the barn doors. The hardware wasn’t in the budget, the doors weren’t either so we nixed them for the time being. The piece still serves its function to store toys, movies, and consoles while blending into the design of the rest of our furniture.

Thank you following along with the build. Stay tuned for more projects from the PlaneOleWoodShop. If you have any questions or advice for myself or other viewers please feel free to leave a comment below.


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