This post should have gone out yesterday, but technical difficulties, soz.

Great excitement as the table project drew a little closer to completion. After a final sand and wipe, it was time to coat the timber to stop it drying out, and to protect it from moisture. Osmo (titular character in an Everybody Loves Raymond-style vehicle, with Cockneys) is the product of choice on this course. The instructions on the tin and from the carpenters were to apply sparingly, which turned out to be simultaneously a soothing and stressful process.

Underside first, where the initial opportunities to explore the parameters of ‘sparingly’ proved that it really does mean hardly any at all. Little rivulets forming along the joins, occasioning those runs up the legs with the brush to redistribute. One technique suggested was to slather it on across the grain before finishing off along the grain, and that seemed to work quite well on the larger faces. Also, starting slightly in from the edges, to avoid too much overflow.

Then, a hilariously thumby moment of turning the whole thing upside down to move on to the top. So soothing. Along and back, along, back… Yet this was also where the stress entered into it. The quest for non-drip perfection, when every brush stroke along the top squeegeed tiny drops of product over the edges. Dab… check… dab dab… check…

Eventually, though, there it was.

Shining like my eyes. The brush went in the Brush Mate tin, where brushes are prevented from drying out and hardening without having to wash them. I had a slight crusty qualm about the use of chemicals so powerful they have to be kept shut in a box at all times, but that was easily disregarded in the giddy excitement of the finish.

And that was pretty much it for the evening: leave it to dry, with the possibility of further smoothing, and another coat or so to complete it, after the Easter break.

I intended to have a go at some more dovetail joints for the remaining hour or so, but my own joints seemed to be seizing up, and uh-oh, bit of a thick nose and sore throat, just in time for the holidays, of course.

“Oh, Osmo… you nugget!”
(Osmo turns to camera, Jack Benny expression; canned laughter and credits)

Fixing the table top on this evening.

Despite having checked the pre-drilled holes last week, it was still a nervy experience fitting the actual screws. Getting them most of the way in with a combi drill, then finishing by hand with a pozi screwdriver, then slipping a hand under the table top to check nothing had come through.

Fortunately, the measuring was all accurate, so I have avoided the possibility of someone running admiring fingers across the surface of the wood then sticking a spiked finger in their mouth with an accusatory yelp.

Small victories, yes, maybe… but they’re my victories.

The rest of the evening was spent sorting out little issues that hadn’t quite occurred to me, such as having to plane the ends owing to the teeth marks left by the circular saw, which was a faff, then a lot of sanding down of those edges.

Finally, some superfine abrasive action with p320 paper along the top, which had such an instant and pleasing effect on the timber that I felt enthused enough to consider sending the Abrasives Company an endorsement, even offering to do voiceovers for their radio adverts.

“…for a smoothness that is unsurpassed…”

OK, it’s more of an audio gag, but, oh, you know.

Next week: Treating the wood with Osmo Oil.

“Osmo. The wood product specialist.”

Sanding the table top tonight…



A lot of glue to remove. The belt sander was keen! I felt I got a good arm and stomach workout keeping it from zooming off as I sanded and sanded and sanded for about an hour.




…then it was time to cut down to size…








Next week, some final preparation with the smaller sander… and the top should be ready to attach. Excitement!


Arrived at the joinery department tonight to place top on table. Discovered that this would entail, in the TV chef manner, that I first make my table top.

While my initial reaction was that as tasks go, this took the biscuit, I quickly warmed to the idea.

Three sections of timber, cut to roughly the dimensions required, needed to be joined up.

“Biscuits,” said the instructor.

“Biscuits,” I agreed with a nod, mouthing “Biscuits?” through an imagined fourth wall.

Equipment needed here would include a biscuit jointer, which is a tool used to cut crescent-shaped slots in the sides of the timber. Simple and satisfying to use!

You then liberally apply glue (we use Cascamite, a strong powdered resin wood adhesive), and insert the ‘biscuits’, which are dry ovals of compressed wood. These expand when they come into contact with the glue and form a strong bond between the pieces.

The gluing was also satisfying… slathering it on, squidging the sections together, then lining them up and clamping.

You can just about make out the marking up: a pair of diagonal lines forming a V across the sections removes any possibility of sticking them together the wrong way round.

Then I practised dovetail joints… but I’ll save those for a later occasion.

Next week: Random Orbital Sander (either another tool or a Stereolab track). Meanwhile, perhaps a biscuit. Rewards!