Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Confessions of an Amateur Builder

Those of you that follow my weekly posts (and not just projects) know that at one point, I was ready to throw my daybed into the garbage. Well, you knew that I was ready to throw my big project into the garbage, you didn't really know that it was a daybed just yet. Yesterday's post would have been entirely too long if I delved into the disasters that happened while building that daybed, and some of you like to see eye candy, while others of you actually read what I write.  I understand both, I truly do.  For the latter, this post is for you.

My problems with the daybed started at the Big Orange. I'd had a problem with the Big Blue cutting things correctly, so I headed to the Big Orange instead. I never quite know how to act there where I'm buying a few huge sheets of plywood and am asking them to cut it into very specific measurements. I know I'm being a pain, but I still want to cut and measure and cut and measure. The cut guy at Big Orange was amazingly awesome. He did exactly that, all on his own...cut, measure, cut, measure. He's any amateur builder's dream cutter.

The problem? To be quite blatant about it, the wood just...well, sucked. I got the Birch Plywood which was actually more expensive than the Blondewood Plywood I had gotten from the Big Blue for my last project. I'm night blind, which makes places like dark lumber departments hard to see knitty gritty details of the quality of the wood. When I got home with the plywood and started sanding, all of the pieces were...fuzzy. I don't know any other way to describe it. There were also so many deep scratches in the pieces that had been filled with wood filler. It was obvious it wasn't just in one sheet, that happened in all three sheets.

If I'd had more patience, I probably would've returned all of the wood and made them re-cut new wood for me, but I couldn't force myself to go back to the Big Orange and go through the whole cutting process again, let alone trying to convince them to take back their three sheets of plywood that was in about 20 different pieces now. So I carried on.

The next mistake was getting the water based Kilz primer instead of the oil based. I don't know why it makes a difference, but it does. I actually got the Premium water based, which was more expensive than the oil based, and I'll never go that route again. The coat was thin and uneven, which is normally fine, but it was so thin that I felt I had to put a few coats of primer on.

Next mistake was that I went the cheaper route for the trim and bought the pine instead of the poplar. My thought was that I could save a few bucks here because I was painting and not staining, so the quality of the wood wouldn't be an issue. I did get the 'select pine' or whatever the high grade of pine boards are, but after working with the poplar in the last daybed, I'd stick with the poplar for painting. I actually would maybe use the pine for staining instead of painting. The poplar allows paint to go on SO much more smoothly.

And the last big huge kicker that caused a road block was me. I'm a messy crafter / builder / painter, and I'm not organized in the slightest. On the last go round of painting the daybed, I took the semi gloss paint at the end and did quite a few coats around the exterior of the daybed. I'm not the most patient with things either, so I just painted straight from the bucket onto the daybed. It worked fine then, but my paint was REALLY thick this go round, which I think is from it drying out some. After hearing a lot of "ARGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH's" and "UUUUUGGGGHHHHHHH's" coming out from the junk room, Chris came in and poured my paint into a bowl and added a little bit of water, which helped immensely. He keeps me sane sometimes, I swear!

Semi-gloss paint is so hard to work with on furniture anyways. It's pretty tricky to get it completely smooth. I actually used my water based polyurethane at the end of this project to seal my daybed, and I think I'll use satin paint on furniture and just seal it with semi gloss to get the clean shiny look that I love so much. It's so much easier that way.

Oh yes, and there was one more thing I messed up on. All of the edges, with the exceptions of the connecting box frames are sanded and stained. I forgot to wipe off the excess stain, which meant it bled EVERYWHERE because I kept accidentally touching it and then touching something else. I'm a mess with all this crafting stuff, I really am! all worked out in the end. So, there you have it...the real story behind the second daybed! If nothing else, I hope this shows you that even when everything turns out wrong, with enough perseverance, you can still have something beautiful to show at the end that makes you proud.

Happy Hump Day!


  1. Thank you for the nitty gritty. Building is a messy business, but the efforts are worth it. I appreciate the info on lumber quality, too. Best wishes!

  2. It's nice to know that there's a giant story behind the beautiful looking end result. Makes the rest of us feel better (and learn something too!)

  3. Hey Kara! Your daybeds look GREAT! I remember when you did the first one, and those look awesome in that corner together! I've been contemplating doing something similar in unorganized "could be a guest" room... Also, thanks for saying hi!

  4. Kara, thank you for this very informative post! I liked the comparison of the different woods, paints, and tips.

  5. Thank you for posting your "oops" moments! It really helps to learn from someone else's mistakes. Your daybed turned out great anyway!

  6. That's the Kara I know! ;-) Hehe, just kidding. Those beds look awesome!! I can't believe how crafty you've gotten since college. I feel as though I should have some of the credit for your crafty-ness since I baked your roommate's birthday cake for you and showed you how to make a beaded gator bracelet before hitting the bars! hahahaha! Can you come visit to motivate me to start decorating my guest room and maybe help me finish my cursed kitchen remodel?! Love you! Great job, can't wait to see them in real life/

  7. I used to build a lot of things, and I don't know if this helps, but water-based products will raise the grain of the wood, making it rough. Then you have to sand again. Also, I have good luck with Benjamin Moore Semi-gloss paint, and I really like the sealer they make, Stays Clear.


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