July 26, 2011

#52-I Built a Couch (Part 2)

For those of you just tuning in, I recently built a couch using the step by step tutorial from Ana-White.com.  On day one I cut and assembled the first piece just to make sure I had the hang of it. After my first successful couch piece was built, I woke up the next morning (Friday), ready to rock out the rest of those pieces.  I was lucky to have a half day at work, so at around 1PM I headed home and started cutting boards with the goal to cut for the entire couch by the time I had to pick up my little monster from daycare.  Again, Ana's tutorial and cut list made it a piece of cake, so the only thing that made it tough was the endurance.  Each corner piece is made of 23 pieces, and each armless (center) piece is made of 20, so all in I had 126 boards to cut for my 6 piece sectional.  Yikes!  I used a few tricks I have learned along the way though to make it go a little faster, like when you need to cut boards the same size, you can quickly measure for the second by placing it on top of the board you need to cut, and lining up your saw blade.

Once you have it lined up perfectly, you can just drop down your saw, cutting just the bottom board.  This is a great trick when building furniture because it guarantees all your equal length pieces are the same.  Just 1/16th of a difference can cause a chair to wobble. 

PS- In retrospect I'm not sure that doing home improvement with bangle bracelets on is a good idea. 
So that things didn't get too confusing, I stacked all my wood in a pile for each sectional piece.

And marked with pencil on each board the size so that there would be no confusion infuriating accidents once it came to putting these bad boys together.

I finished cutting with an hour or so to spare, so I headed to daycare early to get in some good quality time with the kiddo.  We went for a run around the lake, played in the sprinkler in the backyard, and made some dinner together since his new favorite thing is wearing his chefs hat and cooking along with me.  Epic good day. 

The Hubs had to work really early the next morning, so I waited until they were both in bed around 9:30 PM to get started with the building.  Ana's tutorial suggests that you do one a day, but I was hoping to get a few done and really move this project along.  You may remember, I started with this that I had completed the night before:

Again, I'm not going to bore you with the step by step details since I couldn't be as clear and concise as Ana if I tried (I tend to ramble.  Oh, you knew that already?  Of course you did).  There was an awful lot of Kreg Jig action happening though, since everyone of my boards needed at least 2-4 pocket holes in each one (Quick math we're talking upwards of 252 pocket holes to drill!). Which is far better than 252 exposed screws though, so well worth it. 

Kreg Jig in action

Oh yeah, and I got smart after the first piece and started drilling over a tarp.  I had forgotten that our screened in porch is lined with screen on the bottom as well to prevent bugs from coming up through the cracks in the decking.  Unfortunately this screen also makes a great sawdust trap.  Grr.

Thanks to the time stamp on my camera, I know at 10:44PM I had this:

Note my laptop with Ana's tutorial near by me at all times.  At 11:34 PM, I had this.

On average it was taking me about an or so to build each piece.  It wasn't too tricky, again, it just takes a while to drill all the pocket holes and make sure everything was lined up, glued and square.  If I haven't mentioned it before, always always glue every piece you put together.  The bond is so much stronger, and your piece won't warp and shift overtime. It started to get pretty long and exhausting after a while, but I've run a couple of marathons in my day, and you know that place where you sort of black out and have an out of body experience while you truck along?  Yep- I went there.  I didn't intend on finishing so much in one evening, but before I knew it, it was 1:27AM and I had this:

I won't lie, I definitely considered cranking out the last corner piece before I went to bed, just to get it all done in one evening, But then I remembered that Captain Chaos would likely be ready to party around 8AM the next morning, and there was no need to punish myself just to prove a point to, well... myself (Yes, my two, almost three year old goes to bed at 8 PM each night and wakes the next day around 8 AM. Then he takes a 3 hour nap each day.  I am the luckiest girl I know). So I called it a night, took a shower to get all the sawdust out of my hair, and was asleep the moment I hit the pillow.  The Hubs did wake up for just a second as I crawled into bed and I swear I heard him mutter "psycho" under his breath as he looked at the clock and rolled over.


  1. WOW! This is going to be amazing... well, it already is, but I cannot wait to see the finished product! Fabulous work!

  2. AnonymousJuly 27, 2011

    I personally think the bangles are a great touch, Erin!

  3. Wow! So beautiful!! Great job. I envy your skillz. =)
    To make it easier if you want to make more of these...

    Can you clamp multiple boards together securely and cut a bunch at once? Even just three at a time would cut down your time. Instead of using a cut board as a template, you could put a stop jig on the left side of the saw so when it stops the board is the correct length to be cut.

    if its a cut on the mitre saw, you could always clamp a stopblock to the fence. Also make sure that you are cutting on "the waste side" of the line because you have to account for the 1/8'' thinckness (or less) of the blade


    The second way to cut multiple pieces to exactly the same length is to lay them down on a bench top, square up the ends, and clamp them together. Measure and mark all four together, then cut all four pieces at once.
    If you have many pieces to cut, or if clamping them together is impractical, a third technique is to use a power miter saw. Clamp a strip of wood (also known as an "auxiliary fence") to the miter saw fence. A one-by-four or a one-by-three is a good size for this auxiliary fence. With the board clamped, cut off the end. Then put the measuring tape on the cut end and measure and mark the length of the boards you want to cut. Place a scrap piece of wood on the mark and clamp it in position. We'll call this a "stop block."

    Lastly, for staining, perhaps use a wallpaper glue tray and dip the pieces before assembly?