Well, it’s been a little while since I did a blog here – mainly because not a lot interesting has been happening. With the house, I mean – plenty of other interesting things have happened elsewhere, which you can read about on my other blogs – but due to one thing or another (money and time being most critical) I haven’t had much to say about my tiny dwelling and its evolution into a perfect living space.
But now I do!
I loves me some sewing. But for a while now my sewing machine, fabric, threat et al has been banished to a corner gathering dust because the only tables in my house are in my front room and there isn’t a suitable place for a permanent set up – at least, not when troublesome bunnies are around to nibble!
So one day, lying in bed, it suddenly struck me that a whole bunch of floorspace was already being taken up in my bedroom by random bags, many of while contained sewing projects. Why not just make a table in that space?
Once the thought was there is was impossible to shake, as such thoughts often are. It was time to get making!
This is a very basic build, intended always to be Sewing Table Mk 1, a prototype to be improved upon in future. As a side note, I highly recommend thinking about any project like this – it will stop you getting stressed out about tiny details, as I often do, and just let you go with the flow. You can always have a Mk 2 which will be better!
So, not only was this basic, I also needed it to be cheap (money again) so I went along to my local DIY store and picked up some bits – standard 2”x4” for the legs were the way to go, with a hardboard top.
I was super lucky in this instance as I was literally just about to get a new sheet of hardboard cut to my specifications when I noticed an offcut someone else had left – the gentleman doing the cutting very kindly let me have it and even cut it down for me, and all that was asked of me for taking this off their hands was a donation to the charity tin! Hoorah!
I did have to buy some metal brackets too, so all in all the build cost me around £10.
I was frustrated in my attempts to start as I had a lot on for that week – and even more so when I discovered that – oh no – even the shortest screws I had were too long for the thickness of the hardboard. I needed to rethink. I needed some ballast, as it were, an extra layer so that the screw wouldn’t end up poking out in a dangerous way. It was either that or buy really tiny stubby screws.
If I had a pocket jig (very high up on my list of ‘when I have money’ purchases!) this might not have been so much of a problem, but because I was stuck with 90 degree angle brackets I had to lump it.
This was when it struck me that a necessity could become a feature – after all, on a sewing table one is always handling needles, pins, bobbins, eyelets and other small items – if I put a ‘safety barrier’ around the whole table, that would both allow me to attach the legs and prevent things falling on the floor. Boom!
I was again extremely lucky in that I managed to get hold of the wood I needed free from a local museum – Derby Silk Mill Museum, as it happens, who manufacture a lot of their own furniture.
NB: Sadly the museum is to be closed after summer 2017. Un-sadly it is closed because it received some great Heritage funding and is undergoing a complete redesign to reopen a couple of years later! Wohoo!
These four strips of ply would go around the edge of the table fine. The very awesome workshop supervisor Steve even cut them down for me! They still have the pencil marks on them from the previous project, but who cares? They were free!
One other consideration was the fact that the table would be near a drawer – part of the in-built vanity (which I have plans to change one day anyway) and which I hardly ever need, but which it would be useful to open at times.
So I inset the legs by thirty centimetres or so, so that I could open the drawer – I’d still have to rummage blind to get something that was kept in there, but I fill it with non-essential things so it’s not a hardship. That would mean of course that one of the edges would need to be in-set too, to allow the screws to go through it – but this is a prototype after all – aesthetically and practically it was no big deal.
Time to get building!
Apart from a normal screwdriver, a pencil and a ruler, the only tool I used was my lovely Makita Cordless Drill (which will get its own blog one day I’m sure).
I just wanted to mention how fantastic this tool is. It just seems to be designed perfectly. Everything about it just…works. Most of us are used to owning things which are just good enough but I honestly can’t find fault with my drill. I would recommend it – I hasten to add (once again in case I am coming across as some kind of drill-schill) that I am not getting anything for saying this. Believe me, if I were getting any kind of sponsorship from Makita, I would be doing a lot more DIY!
The first thing was to attach the edges, drilling from what would be underneath, with two screws set about 40cm apart, leaving plenty of space to the brackets. At this point I discovered that through a dumb mistake the two widthwise edges were too short, leaving an embarrassing space. At the time I figured out the reason for my miscalculation but now it is sadly lost to me.
Next, marking where the legs (and therefore the brackets) would go. It was important at this point to mark the positioning and depth of the screws to make sure they didn’t end up grinding against one another.
Attaching the brackets to the table top and then to the legs – this because a little awkward as there wasn’t much space for the drill when screwing in at a right-angle – another issue that will (fingers crossed) be solved with a pocket jig!
Hooray, it’s upright! But the legs were still a little wobbly so I drilled holes for some long screws from the top to stabilise them, again making sure they didn’t hit the already embedded screws.
And it’s done!
Now to get it installed – a note to any other tiny house owners: ANY projects you make, make sure they are 100% deconstructable.
I had to take two of the legs off the table and reattach them in the bedroom because the table wouldn’t fit through my narrow kitchen. If I’d glued it or used some other permanent method, it would have been stuck outside forever.
Plus, if you make something you are intending to take with you, you may need to take it apart to get it out. Always plan ahead!
So, here it is, installed in its place. Before and after…
Full disclosure – I did also have a big clear-out of stuff just before putting the table in, so that kind of helps the after picture. Also, look, I managed to post justify the gap left by my miscalculation – it’s for a power cable! Now I can pretend like I meant it all along!
My sewing table may not be a masterwork of carpentry, but it is a 100% home-made project that gives me an extra, practical surface, allowed me to tidy my room, increase the functionality of my house and make the most of my space, and I call that a win.
Because life is complicated, since it has been installed I have used the sewing table for sewing a grand total of once, but it has been great to store things (usually paper) on and kept things much tidier.
The full dimensions, if you are interested, are: L 160cm x W 60m x H 75cm – not too big but big enough!
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