Thursday, September 15, 2011

Desk Failure

This was meant to be a success story. It is instead a story of the triumph of hope over reality. I found a 3 legged desk with pigeon holes in the alley a few years ago, but before I could do more than disassemble it for refinishing, I moved. At one point I had leg #4 made for it, and bought hardware to attach it. I sanded the legs, primed them, hunted for the other pieces ... and discovered that one of the original 3 legs was missing.

The project went on the back burner. I found a set of 4 top mounting table legs and thought the matter was resolved. But this summer when I attached the legs, not only did they look spindly, they wobbled. I couldn't use one of the new legs with 3 others, because they were longer. To complicate matters, the corner bracket for the missing leg was also missing and a chunk of wood was gone.

A sane person would have put the table back in the alley, but I went in search of a second corner bracket. Of course I had forgotten who made them, and had misplaced the first one. I tried to duplicate the pieces at Ace, where I found the right size nuts but no bolts or brackets. Home Depot, as usual, had brand new clerks who were willing to help me look but were clueless.  My last stop was Lowe's, a place I try to avoid because its ventilation is not good. There they were, beside a display of table legs and an assortment of leg mounts. (Waddell makes them, Lowe's sells them, and they are so simple that I can install them). They had even gone down in price since I first bought one.

Meantime back at home, the pieces to the table had decided to scatter. The baggie containing the perfect nuts vanished. The original corner bracket, still shrink wrapped to its cardboard, was no longer in the basket where I stash all my nuts, bolts, screws and nails. The backboard that would support the tiny pigeon holes that make this table/desk so cute was nowhere to be found. 

Slightly daunted, I found a piece of wood from a deconstructed pallet and, using a circular saw for the first and possibly ONLY time, cut it down for leg #4. After sanding, spackling and resanding, I had 4 legs, two with bolts. Marking the new bolt holes was simple. Finding the size drill bit called for by the manufacturer meant another trip to Lowe's. I found 5/32 drill bits, and 17/32 drill bits. A salesperson found the 9/32 bit, for under $4. I was on my way again. 

Have you ever tried to drill a hole on a protruding corner? Not easy. I carved away a small bit of the corners, drilled with a smaller bit, then with the larger one. The table was primed and had its first coat of spray paint. It had the original two legs. And ... the bolts on the new legs were too high. I turned the legs, filled the holes and started over. I filled in the missing chunk of wood with wood filler and attached the corner brackets.

pigeon hole pieces
The backboard reappeared. It was in the garage approximately where it had been dumped by movers years ago. In other words, I had to move a lot of stuff and climb over boxes to get to it. The drawer has lost its back, but all the pigeon hole pieces and the pencil tray are in the same 10 x 10 foot room with the desk. I'm learning. I have no idea where the original screws that held the pigeonholes cubbies to the backboard are. I also have no idea whether I will use the  pigeon holes and backboard, but they get painted anyway. I'll laminate layers of cardboard for the back of the drawer. It couldn't be any more horrible than my bathroom storage furniture, and the backs of shallow desk drawers are rarely wet.

It is still a 3-legged desk. Wood filler is not strong enough to hold a screw in place. Laminated cardboard is next. The bolt is fine. It is the screw holding one side of the corner bracket that is the problem. I really should abandon this project entirely, but instead it goes back to the garage while I attack less demanding projects, such as dinner.