Friday, August 31, 2012
It takes two nuts!
Not too long ago, I was contacted by someone from Waddell Manufacturing with an interesting offer. Waddell is a wood component manufacturer, making things like moldings, turnings, and carvings, but they've spread out into other areas. Like furniture kits, which is what their offer involved.
I agreed to assemble one of their furniture kits, and share my thoughts about it. Want a full disclaimer? Yes, they sent it to me free-of-charge.
It arrived in two boxes - well packed and in good shape, once the components were unpacked.
The kit was make of pine, and the top was laminated from several boards, planed and then cut into a circle.
The hardware that came with it includes some corner connectors with hanger bolts, as well as some skirt fasteners for attaching the top to the base.
To be honest, I had some thoughts as I was unpacking everything. I don't really build anything out of pine, but I was somewhat impressed with the quality of the legs. They were beefy, and if you know anything about the furniture I build, you know I like beef.
The first thing I had to do was cut a small slot in each apron, or skirt, as they call it. This is very simple to do on the tablesaw, but I wondered how easy it would be for the average homeowner to accomplish without any tools. (Note to Waddell - cut the slots in the aprons for your customers. If they can't build this table from scratch, they probably can't cut this slot very accurately.)
The corner bracket slips into these slots, and then bolts into place with a hanger bolt. Which brought me to step #2 - drilling the hanger bolt hole into the leg.
and then set up one of my WoodPecker corner clamps to hold the leg while I drilled it.
Again - I wondered if the average person (i.e. - not a woodworker) would have a good way of accurately drilling these holes.
The very first time that I tried to install a hanger bolt (way back when, as we say) - I was stumped. If you've done this before, then you'll get the title of this post. If not, read this.
Here it is, after all the slotting and drilling.
Do this on all four corners...
and you'll wind up with a table base.
There are so many ways of attaching a table top to a base that I could write a whole blog post about that. And bore you to tears while doing so. (Especially you, mom.)
Waddell includes some beefy corner brackets with this kit, for attaching the top to the base. While these wouldn't be my first choice for table top attachment, they fit in fine with everything else included with this kit.
So - what's the truth here? Is this kit a smart purchase for the average woodworker or homeowner?
First - I will give you the good news, and this is really good news - this kit is worth every penny they charge for it. It is a screaming value.
You receive every single thing you need - the wood components, all the hardware, screws, everything. If you went to one of the big box stores, you would probably pay double the cost of this kit for everything they send you, so this is a real bargain. The legs alone, which are very nicely made, would probably cost what this whole kit cost.
Additionally, the average woodworker wouldn't have any trouble assembling this kit. With a few tools (a drill and some sort of miter box or power saw) - anyone could assemble this in an afternoon.
But here's the bigger question - if someone had a decent set-up of tools in their workshop, wouldn't they want to build something a little more challenging?
Or wouldn't they simply want to make the whole table in their workshop?
Waddell has taken a step in the right direction - offering quality components are a very reasonable price. That's to be commended. But - and here, I may be a woodworking snob - but this kit doesn't really appeal to me sense of aesthetics.
And let's face it - that's why we put a piece of furniture into our homes, right? We like the way it looks, we like the function that it serves, and (in this case) - we like being able to say we built it. That we saved some money and "made" the piece with our own two hands.
At the risk of losing any woodworking credibility I might have, I will make this recommendation - if you're new to woodworking and want to get some hands-on experience, then buy this kit. It's not going to break the bank, and it will teach you something. Especially about installing table hardware.
In the end, you'll have a decent little table that you can brag about. The bigger lesson here is that you'll see how the components work together, and - in the future - have a better idea about designing and building your own small tables.
And isn't that what it's really about?
Time permitting, I am going to finish this table using MilkPaint, to get some color on it. This article that I found will give you a ton of info on using MilkPaint, and is definitely worth the read. Take a look at it now, because after I apply some color to this piece, you won't even recognize it.
Meanwhile, thanks to the people at Waddell for offering this kit to me - I enjoyed assembling it and writing this review.
Here's their video on assembling the table.