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I’ve been working on a coffee table build for what seems like years. Now that I’m in the closing stages, I went back to look at the first photos I took; that was in mid-October of last year. But I’m finally nearing the end of the project. The drawers are finished and fit; the top is on. I still need to install drawer guides, but that’s it before sanding and spraying on a couple coats of shellac and a topcoat of dull lacquer, then installing the pulls. Then, the table will come home with me, and I’ll show it off to my friends (being sure to point out all the mistakes, naturally).

First, however, I have to remove the old table…and that led me to take stock of the rest of the furniture in the living room. I have a CD rack that holds 500 jewel cases – but I can’t remember the last time I actually listened to a CD. These days I just fire up iTunes (at which my audiophile brother scoffs; he says the sound quality is debased. Whatever.). So I’m packing the CDs away (and loading the ones not already there – of which there are a surprising number– into iTunes); I plan to put the rack out with the garbage on the next balmy pickup day (I live near the University of Cincinnati; someone will drive by and within minutes it will have a new home). I’m also in the market for new sofa (the cats need a nice clean cushion on which to cough up hairballs).

But tonight, bored with looking through the CDs and marveling at some of my now curious-seeming purchases (Vince Gill? Really?), I took a look at my current coffee table. It’s an old cedar chest I bought 20 years ago for $25 in a secondhand shop. I suspect this chest is actually third or fourth hand. Some of the moulding is missing, and that which is still attached is hanging on for dear life. The finish is a mess of orange peel and there are water rings all over the top (I always meant to sand the thing down and refinish it, but…).

It was an excellent coffee table in my one-bedroom-apartment days; the interior is so capacious that I was able to store all my board games and tapes (pre-CD days!) inside, along with a few throws and pillows – anything I didn’t need to access very often. But I don’t think I’ve opened the thing in a decade, since moving to my house. So tonight, I opened it up, and darned if there isn’t still a lot of crap in there. Crap I don’t remember owning. Plus a lot of really crap CDs (boy do I wish I had that money back!). And there was a dead spider, but one of the cats took care of that. So I closed it back up. That’s a cleaning project that can wait for another day. I’m going back to perusing the CD collection. (And maybe I’ll pop in that Joshua Kadison disc about which I’d completely forgotten.)

When I do get around the cleaning out the chest, perhaps I’ll refer to “Flexner on Finishing” to figure out how best to attack the orange peel, then sand the inside to freshen the cedar scent and move it to my closet for sweater storage. Who am I kidding; it will likely join the CD rack at the curb.

— Megan Fitzpatrick

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Showing 6 comments
  • rheilke

    I couldn’t find a proper place to put this, so I’m leaving it here… (Sorry for the intrusion). Why, in Cthulu’s name, would the PWW website go backward several years and remove the RSS feeds??!? There are RSS feeds for the comments, but not the blogs themselves? Are they there, but hidden?

    I’m stupified.


  • woodzealot

    Your cats seem to really be into Vince Gill… I’m not sure if that’s normal (it’s not).

    Thanks for sharing some of your coffee table time capsule with us. And we understand why you’re probably omitting some of the more egregious cd purchases. We know you probably have an MC Hammer disc in there or something.

    Looking forward to seeing the new coffee table… and the vid of the introduction of it to the cats for approval… don’t take the easy way out and pre-load it with dead spiders.

  • Gene

    Or… break it down, run the boards through a sander, and then use them to line a shiny new chest (that will go on the cover of the April 2012 issue)

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