Meet Herman {my coffee table}

Yes, I did name my coffee table.  I don't apologize for this absurd behavior of naming inanimate objects, I celebrate it.  Now don't get me wrong, I recognize that it is silly, but it's just something I do in my world.  Especially when said object was a labor of love, sweat, swear words and splinters.  But y'all I created Herman with MY hands, and that is absurd to me.  Me woodworking?  That is outright laughable.  But guess what?  I did it!  And I am celebrating the fact that he actually resembles a coffee table, not just a hodgepodge of wood I tried to screw together.  So excuse my little pat on the back for a minute, but I think he looks pretty amaze balls.

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Herman became a major part of my world when I started this project a few weeks ago.  I spent countless hours, sometimes very frustrating hours putting Herman together, but the perma-grin that has been plastered on my face since I completed him has been well worth all those long hours and sweaty days.  Y'all I know it is absolutely crazy to be this excited over a coffee table, but there is a reason that this hunk of wood has become so special to me.

I've written before about growing up on a farm and the specific skill sets my brother and I learned from doing odd jobs here and there.  One of those jobs included working at our sawmill. It was not what you would call glamorous work.  It was tedious and repetitive.  Of course, back in those days as kids, we couldn't appreciate how truly awesome of an experience it was. Our job was to stand at the end of a rolling conveyor belt and grab the wood planks after they were milled.  We would then sort each piece of lumber into different piles depending on the size. The machinery was so loud that talking was not possible, so for several hours our only entertainment while doing the work was daydreaming or humming along to the loud sounds of the saw.  I tell you this because even though at the time, I might have grumbled and complained about having to do the work, but as I stood at the end of the rollers, daydreaming about being poolside later that day, I was mesmerized by the process.  How not too long before we were milling the log into lumber, it was a standing tree on our farm. How my dad for some reason or another had chosen this tree to mill, and how this lumber would one day become something unique that was built by my dad's hands.

Although my dad would argue {he's quite the humble man}, he is an extremely talented woodworker.  I am constantly in awe of the things he can build. He can literally look at a piece of furniture or a piece of machinery then go home and build it, using nothing but the plan he designed in his genius mind.  I've hung back over the years watching as his strong calloused hands manipulated wood into intricate works of art.

I am similar to my dad in the fact that I have the creative gene.  I can't do the things that he does, but there are many things that I can come home and recreate.  Often times when I am meandering through home decor stores, I will run across something amazing that I'd love to buy but never do with the intention of making it myself.  It's a blessing to be able to do something like that, but it's also a curse. I have an array of ideas floating around in this head of mine that will never see the light of day.  

However, this summer, I made a bucket list.  On that list of to-do's was to build something.  I'm not sure when the itch to woodwork started but I know it was fostered by watching my dad all these years and was ignited by a website I ran across as I was searching for the perfect farmhouse table that would complete our kitchen.  Scrolling through the website Shanty2Chic, a business created by two sisters who design and build furniture for a living, and provide free plans for do-it-yourselfers became a fun little obsession. I started following them on Instagram and watching their YouTube tutorials.  Then last year for my birthday I asked Steve to get me a special tool they recommended for woodworking. I neatly tucked it away in Steve's toolbox, waiting until I found the perfect project to work on. It sat there for a whole year, until three weeks ago.  As I was searching through their plans, I found a beautiful, rustic coffee table that I thought would be perfect for the empty space in our living room.  I dusted off my Kreg Jig {my special little tool} and figured I would give this building thing a good ole try.  If things didn't work out, I could always call in some reinforcements. But holy crap y'all, I did it. I took a pile of 2x4’s and 2x6’s  and made Herman.  He is completely flawed and perfectly imperfect but knowing that at some point he was a tree standing somewhere on our farm, was cut and milled by my dad's hands, then pieced together by yours truly is what makes Herman so dang special to me!

Now, I'm not saying I didn't have help.  Lord knows I couldn't have done any of this without my dear hubby and my dad.  Steve helped me prep my boards before starting this project.  We spent almost three hours of our date night ripping boards, running them through the planer and cutting each piece to the specified dimensions.  I can't thank him enough for understanding my desire to do this because Lord only knows what ran through his head when I got the crazy look in my eye and said "hey, I'm gonna build a coffee table."  I know coming home from a long day of work to a sweaty, sawdust covered wife, a neglected house, unfolded laundry and no dinner on the table was not ideal.  Then, said hot mess of a wife would roll into bed late at night with braces on her hands because everything she did bothered her carpal tunnel and her hands were starting to look like Chandler Bing's claw hand...you know the Friends episode where he played Ms. PacMan all day! But he encouraged me the whole way.  And my sweet dad...I don't think he realizes how awesome it is to have completed this project knowing that a part of him is with it too. Knowing that each piece of wood that built Herman came from a tree that he milled. My absolute favorite part of this whole process was learning.  From answering my endless questions, to advising me to do things a certain way, and cutting the difficult angles that I struggled to wrap my head around, my dad taught me a craft he is so brilliant at.  There  was only so  much I could learn from one project, but now I feel like I have the confidence to tackle another one.  I'm not sure what it will be, but once I straighten out my claw hand, I'll be ready.

I didn't document my whole building process...I barely survived building the thing.  I did however take a few pictures along the way.

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For those of you interested, these are the plans that inspired Herman. DIY 8 Board Farmhouse Table

For Herman, I used Minwax Special Walnut to stain the top of the table and the shelf underneath, then finished off with several coats of Minwax Clear Semi-gloss Polyurethane.  For the base, I used Kilz Chalk Style Paint then distressed it slightly using sandpaper, and then applied a protective coat of Minwax Paste Finishing Wax.  Links are provided for you!