Andrew Whipple

The most sensational, inspirational, celebrational, muppetational

Woodworking

Over the last 4 or so years I've gotten into doing some amateur woodworking! Mostly I like building furniture (exclusively for my own use so far) and because I'm an amateur with a basement "shop" it's mostly plywood-based and relatively simply designs.

Projects

Here's the various projects I've done to date! All are personal (so far)

Coffee Table (~2019)

The first and the simplest! Or rather, simplest in theory if I'd learned anything before trying to make it. It's a 2'x4' 1/2" plywood project panel, with a little brace of sorts made out of 1x3 pine, stained in dark walnut, finished with water-based polyurethane, and using some hairpin legs from Amazon.

coffee table 1

coffee table 2

Many things to learn from this! Such as:

  • screws and glue being better than nails (which I started using, horrifically enough started by trying to nail the brace from the top which left an ungainly finish nail head forever)
  • staining raw plywood edges looks bad, or can if not done carefully and intentionally
  • hairpin legs actually work out really well, especially for the price
  • 3/4" plywood should be a good baseline for anything that needs stability
  • sand more carefully (or, spoiler alert, use a random orbit sander) or you'll get visible marks that never go away, especially after staining
  • How to stain and finish
  • Finish-wise, I like water-based polyurethane

I kept this until I scrapped it prior to moving in 2022.

Modem/Router/Printer Cabinet (~2019)

More pine and plywood furniture, in this case because I needed something to put my router and modem and printer into and wanted a place to store my ungainly powerstrip where my cat wouldn't mess with it.

router cabinet 1 router cabinet 2

Learnings!

  • How to use pocket holes, and that they need to go into the bulk of the wood even if that's less aesthetically pleasing
  • Chiseling rabbets
  • Plywood has a rough side and a finish side, and the finish side should go out
  • That I don't love combination stain + poly, and prefer doing them as separate steps
  • How to make panel joints
  • How to hand-plane
  • How to (poorly) hand-saw plywood and hardwood
  • How to use a flush-trim hand saw
  • How to use a random orbit sander
  • How to use flush-mount hinges
  • Doors to cabinets should not be flush with the floor, so they don't scratch against an uneven floor as you open and close them

This is still in use as of writing.

Entry Table (~2020)

This was one of my first projects of opportunity, in that I lived in a one bedroom apartment and had leftover scraps from the printer cabinet project, and decided to make a cute, albeit not particularly structurally sound entry table. This used a combo of the leftover stain + poly from the printer cabinet, and danish oil for the legs.

entry table 1

entry table 2

Learnings!

  • How to (poorly) chisel half-laps
  • How to (poorly) do angled legs
  • How to use Danish oil (and that I like it more than stain + poly, but less than water-based poly)

I kept this until it was scrapped prior to moving in 2022.

Bed (2021)

I hated my old bulky Ikea bed and committed to not moving with it, so when I moved apartments in 2021, the Ikea bed stayed behind (in the dumpster, mostly.) I did keep the slats, however. And so, I needed a bed! And built a relatively straightforward full-size frame. This was a platform frame in pine, with legs bought from Home Depot, and leftover Ikea wooden slats. It is fully unfinished (never even glued together! Just screws!)

bed 1

bed 2

bed 3

Learnings

  • How a bed basically works
  • That if you ever move a piece of furniture into its final setting for a "test assembly" and use it for more than 10 minutes without disassembling and moving it back out, it will never ever ever be disassembled, glued, stained, or finished

I kept this until it was scrapped prior to moving in 2022.

Desk (2021)

This is the first iteration of a desk that will re-appear later on the list. The desktop is 3/4" birch plywood in a 2'x4' project panel, edge banded, and stained I believe in a cherry of some kind. The legs are 1"x3" pine, stained in ebony. The whole thing is finished with water-based wipe-on polyurethane.

desk with old legs 1

desk with old legs 2

desk with old legs 3

desk with old legs 4

Learnings!

  • How to use edge banding
  • How to use wipe-on poly (and in the rankings, it's water-based > danish oil > wipe-on > combo stain + poly)
  • How to build a desk
  • How not to build legs, if you don't want your desk to wobble (specifically that aprons and stretchers would be useful)

The legs were detached and scrapped prior to moving in 2022, but the desktop is still in use! (Spoilers for later)

Cookbook/Tablet Stand (2022)

A little prototype (the 3rd, because the first two used a different design that failed spectacularly) for a cookbook/tablet stand I was considering making as Christmas presents. That didn't totally pan out, and I'm not thrilled with this, but it is useful! The piece is made from 1/2" red oak, finished with neutral danish oil.

tablet stand 1

tablet stand 2

Learnings!

  • Start learning to use a jigsaw
  • How to pivot when a prototype goes disastrously
  • That I'm still bad at cutting straight 90° angles

This is still in use as of writing.

TV Console (2022)

We went far too long without a TV stand of some kind, instead having our tv barely off the ground on an old filled cardboard box, so this filled that void! It's an open-back cabinet, all made with birch plywood, with 3/4" for the main carcass, 1/2" for the shelf/partition/door, and 1/4" for the sliding doors on the bottom shelf. It's stained in special walnut, and finished with water-based polyurethane.

tv stand 1

tv stand 1

Learnings!

  • How to (poorly) use a circular saw
  • Special walnut stain is lighter than I think it is
  • How to use pre-stain conditioner
  • Faking miters with edge banding absolutely doesn't work

This is still in use as of writing.

Liquor Cabinet Refurbishment (2022)

Not strictly a woodworking project, but this was a buffet cabinet on sale for $20 at a local thrift store, primarily because the exterior finish was bad and there was tons of water damage on the MDF on the inside. This was a so-so restoration, but did end up cleaning the piece all over, fully refinished the top, repainted most of the trim, sanded off the water damage from the base and interior shelf, "refinished" the interior shelf with black vinyl and the base with black paint and black felt, and re-hung the loose door. And all in all it makes a pretty okay little liquor cabinet! I may do more with this in the future.

Before

refurb before 1 refurb before 2

After

refurb after 1 refurb after 2

This is still in use as of writing.

Scratching Post (2022)

A little project to build a custom scratching post to hang off our stairs. This was pretty slapdash, being some offcuts of 3/4" plywood, painted with leftover black paint from the refurbishment, and wrapped in sisal rope that was hot glued and stapled to the wood.

scratching post

This is technically "in use" currently as of writing, but the cats have never once actually used it.

Desk Legs V2 (2022)

As mentioned above, the desktop made the move to Philadelphia, but the desk legs did not, and so new ones had to be made. And with the benefit of having done it the first time, I made a few modifications to the design:

  • The legs are thicker (2"x2")
  • The have much more substantial aprons
  • As both a design and a practical feature, the side aprons have cutouts for cords and such

The legs are stained in ebony and finished in neutral danish oil.

desk 2 (The top is the same as before, and I didn't want to show off my messy desk)

Learnings!

  • How to get better at using a jigsaw
  • Ebony stain looks bad after the first application, but better after subsequent coats

This is still in use as of writing.

Dresser (2023)

Similarly to the TV console, for way too long post-move I did not have a dresser, instead using a combo of closet space, an old storage bench, suitcases, and honestly, the floor, as my clothing storage. This carcass of the dress is 24"x30"x18" (HxWxD) and made out of 3/4" birch plywood, joined with glue and dowels. The drawer boxes are a combo of 1/2" plywood for the boxes, and 1/4" for the bottom, with the boxes joined with pocket holes and with glue + staples to attach the bottom to the box. The drawer faces are 3/4" birch plywood with a handle chiselled and sanded from 1"x3" pine. It's stained in dark walnut and finished with water-based polyurethane. The drawer slides are bought from Home Depot.

dresser 1

dresser 2

Learnings!

  • How to use dowel joinery/my dowel joining jig
  • Chisels work better for trimming edge banding than razer blades, at least for me
  • How to build drawer boxes
  • How to install drawer slides (and how to compensate for doing a bad job building and measuring the carcass + drawer boxes to fit the slides)
  • Hand planing long proud joints is faster and easier than trying to use a flush trim saw
  • A staple gun + mallet works for pinning 1/4" plywood, but a brad nailer would probably be better
  • A table saw or better straight edge guide should be high on my list of next investments
  • Design elements can sometimes help recover from sloppy proportions (in this case, drawers sitting unevenly when mounted making the drawer fronts look out of whack, which is barely noticable given the placement and size of the handles)

This is still in use as of writing.

Recommendations

I've had a few people ask, whether out of curiosity, politeness, or a desire to learn themselves, how I got into woodworking and if I have any recommendations for learning. And like basically 100% of hobbies I have in adulthood, it spiraled out of mostly Youtube, with a year or two of watching videos from DIY and woodworking creators sparking a desire to try myself, and then further watching helping me learn skills, get inspiration for projects, and keep the desire to make stuff alive.

For me, these channels serve basically three purposes:

  • Entertainment (after all, I liked watching woodworking youtube for a long time before starting woodworking)
  • Inspiration (one channel in particular is pretty clearly my biggest design inspiration lol, you'll see when I get to it)
  • Education (learning specific skills! Tips! Tricks!)

All three of these will definitely vary depending on your own styles, preferences, and experience with woodworking. For me a channel might be fun, full of gorgeous designs I want to try, and teach me tons of valuable basics while you may find it grating, full of ugly designs you'd never be caught dead with, and not teaching you anything you didn't learn years ago.

With that, these are my personal favs, with the first two as my big "recommendations":

  • Foureyes Furniture/Shaun Boyd Made This (my favorite duo-turned-pair-of-solo woodworking Youtubers, and blends all three purposes. But they're professionals so it's my biggest inspiration and entertainment channel, but maybe less immediately relevant as education for a beginner. They primarily make high-end wooden furniture in a mid-century-modern inspired style.)
  • Steve Ramsey (hands down the best beginner "How to learn woodworking" channel. Entertaining for sure, but an invaluable resource for basic skills. He mostly makes household projects, ranigng from furniture, built-ins, and small projects like mirrors, picture frames, and boxes.)
  • The Sorry Girls (a DIY channel that features some woodworking. More entertainment and inspiration, though some specific skill learning, particularly for DIY stuff outside of woodworking.)
  • Evan and Katelyn (a general maker channel that started doing more woodworking and now primarily do other stuff like stunt DIYs and resin crafts. Entertainment mostly!)
  • Xyla Foxlin (also general maker, but with a lot more woodworking. Tends to be high-concept projects, like building canoos, bass guitars, teardrop trailers, rockets, etc. Entertainment > Inspiration > Education, though she does a good job of explaining every step she takes even in big and complicated projects!)
  • Crafted Workshop (woodworking and renovation, so an invaluable education tool for construction and renovation stuff, and pretty solid on the woodworking side. Probably education > inspiration > entertainment)
  • Modern Builds (very hit or miss for me, but woodworking/DIY/renovation that aims for "modern" design on limited tools and limited materials. When it hits, inspiration > education > entertainment; when the designs look bad (per my tastes and aesthetics, to each their own) then the order flips.)