From Tom’s workbench… with love…

With Tropical Storm Debby dumping tons of rain on us, and me called in to the Emergency Operations Center, my wife Rhonda has stepped to the plate and written a post for your enjoyment. She tried her hand in the shop … and here’s what she observed.  Enjoy!

First let me say that I am NOT one of those do-it-all women who know all the names of the power tools and which side is the sharp side.  I’m a busy mom, high school teacher, and wife.  Recently, after a frustrating search through Michael’s craft store, I couldn’t find any craft I could cling to.  So I decided to delve into my husband’s territory, with his permission, of course.  After all, I figured, here’s a quick route to “craft” satisfaction.  I could sand, finish, and maybe even veneer some of his furniture.  We could bond over birch, improve our communication skills while working side by sander, and share our dreams during demo.  That’s not exactly how things worked out.  But after you find out what happened, maybe you’ll be inspired to invite your wife or girlfriend into this sacred sanctuary called “the shop.”

Today’s task:  sand a stepstool.

In my first foray into the shop, I realized I would have to get used to a few things.

  1. No mirror.  Touching up in the shop is tough.  I found a way around it, though.  The infinity saw blade Tom had mounted on the wall.  Thanks, honey!
  2. No chit chat.  Once that sander turns on, you can’t carry on a conversation with anyone.  On the upside, I was able to recall all of the locales of the Real Housewives gals on Bravo.  (There are 5, I think.)
  3. No multitasking.  I LOVE doing more than one thing at once.  It’s supremely satisfying to make dinner in the oven while cleaning the fridge and quizzing your 11 year old on multiplication tables.  It must be in the genes.  You know what I mean, mom.

Now that you know what I’m up against, the actual reason I entered the shop was to sand my mother-in-law’s stepstool.  Tom had cut out the pieces with dovetails.

Santos Mahogany is a gorgeous wood.  Very … appealing.  OK – I have no idea how to describe it other than I like it.

The first step was to get the right grit on the sander.  We used 120 for the first round.  I grabbed a piece of chalk and drew lines, and some flowers, so I’d know if I evenly sanded the wood.

Once I started up the sander, it was easy.  I just let the sander “do the work” as Tom instructed.  It took longer than I thought, though, and I had to resist that multitasking urge and just take my time.  After about 10 minutes, I flipped the pieces over to chalk and sand the other side.

By the time I was done, about 20 minutes later, I had a tingly sensation in my hands and just wanted to sit down.  But a refreshing sense of accomplishment came over me.  I had completed the task for today and looked forward to the next go-round with a lighter grit sandpaper tomorrow.  The step stool will essentially be made by both of us and I feel pride and ownership in that.

I see why you love this hobby, Tom!


10 thoughts on “From Tom’s workbench… with love…”

  1. Ahhh…the flowering sanding technique !
    Another expert crafts-person is born !
    Bravo Rhonda, you are a skilled natural, and you look great in that apron and glasses!

  2. Rhonda,

    I enjoyed reading your writing. Both you and Tom have the knack to write an entertaining and informative article. I hope that you find yourself in the shop more often and that we see some more posts from you.

    Have fun,

  3. Wonderful post, my wife and I have worked together for many years now, I have always enjoyed having her working with me. Plus she keeps me on task most of the time

  4. Very nice of you to step in. We’re getting lots of rain from Debby in Fernandina Beach on vacation. Appreciate Tom’s hard work in the EOC.

  5. I’m glad to see you are enjoying yourself. Years ago my wife had me make her folks a set of adirondack chairs. I enlisted her help with the sanding. She plugs her Ipod into my headphones and dances while she sands. She also like to help with the finishing.

  6. First of all, great job in your first foray into the workshop. Second, there are a couple of subtle issues to deal with.

    1. When you are sanding a dovetail joint, particularly the inside face, you can over sand and cause it to become too thin. That makes the joint sloppy. Probably not an issue but if anyone makes dovetail boxes and they suddenly become loose, that’s why.

    2. I’ve used that chalk trick, typically with a pencil. I learned it from a boat detailer that redid gel goat finishes.

    3. The tingling sensation in your hands comes from the electric sanders. If you ever get a chance, try using a pneumatic sander (using compressed air). Much better on the vibration issues.

  7. Hi Sweetheart,

    Great job!!! I’m so proud of the way you stepped up to help Tom with my step stool. I know I’m going to love it and it will be extra special since the both of you have worked on it.



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