Friday, June 26, 2009

Call me Norm Jr.

Unlike Norm "coolest woodworker on earth" Abram, I am not a natural at building things. I also don't have the super awesome tool shop that Norm works tools mostly consist of a $5 drill, a hammer, screw drivers, and a couple tape measures. All handy stuff but nothing that would really help much with woodworking. I did take a few shop classes in high school (against the will of my guidance counselor) but never felt really comfortable working with power tools and wood. I have watched Norm for years and am always amazed at what he accomplishes in one short weekend. Norm is one of my heroes.

I will never be Norm but I do try when the mood strikes. I've installed wood floors throughout my house, have rebuilt the stairs, redesigned and added on to my deck, etc... Most projects turned out pretty decent (often thanks to help from my father or brother). They were always projects that were adjusting, adding on, or rebuilding something. I've never really felt that I had done anything from scratch. Until now. Norm was my inspiration...not any one show, but just the fact that he can create such wonderful things all the time.

It started off, easy...not even a construction project. I've always wanted a library room - a room that has bookshelves on all sides. My house doesn't have room for that though. To help compensate, I have several bookcases set up where there is room, but nothing impressive to display my many leather bound books. About 6 months ago I had an idea. I would move my sofa loveseat sofa slightly and put bookcases on either side of my front room window. This would provide a great showcase for my books and storage for DVDs, etc... After shopping around, I decided that I would not be happy with anything that I could buy. It just wouldn't fit right, wouldn't be what I wanted, or it would be very expensive if it was closer to what I was looking for ($1000+ easy). I love bookcases but could not justify that.

The plan changed and became much more ambitious. I decided I would build a bench seat with a shelf underneath the window (moving the loveseat altogether), and then build more shelves up the wall and around the window. This was a quite a project for me and scared me more than a little. I know Norm could have probably done it all in an afternoon, but I wasn't so confident in my abilities. I spent a couple months planning, measuring, and designing. Then finally I built up my courage and started in. I was working within a few restraints: 1) most tools were borrowed, so I had to work when I could get the tools, 2) budget restraints, I didn't want to put anything on my credit cards so I had to spread out the purchases, 3) space, I was working in my living room and garage...the living room, I still relaxed and watched TV in, 4) time, I might have a couple hours after my job to work before it got too late to use power most was weekend work.

After lots of time, sweat, and a little blood (all fingers intact and no scarring!) - I present to you the Super Cool, Awesome Bookcase Overflowing w/ Very Excellent Reading (SCAB OVER). It is a crap picture from my phone (my digital camera broke), I'll be posting much better pictures next week. But like a proud poppa, I just couldn't keep it in.

Most probably had never seen my house before, this was just a blank wall with a inset window...pretty boring. I still need to move most my books over, organize the electronics and stuff on the lower shelves but you get the idea. The bench cushion is 6 inch, medium firm foam, covered by a micro-suede fabric...just needs a few throw pillows to add some spice. I like it a lot. Special thanks to Ed & Joe, The Furniture Guys on PBS & TLC in the mid-90s for the inspiration on this part. I originally hoped to use the upper shelf as a showcase for the mighty Pegacorn, but it isn't tall I am still looking for a permanent place for that. I am particularly happy with how my Lord of the Rings books with Smeagol/Gollum bookends look on the shelves. I am probably going to buy some of those binders that look like books and throw my DVDs in those...such a cleaner look, especially now that I have someplace to put the binders. The upper shelves will hold books, DVDs, trinkets. The larger shelves below the bench will hold, cable box, xbox, stereo, guitar hero instruments, exercise equipment, etc... It should really help cut down on the clutter in my living room.


  • 375 $ Cost ($200 wood, $100 foam, $30 paint, $20 Fabric, $25 nails, screws, misc)

  • 6 months, from original concept to completion.

  • 4 Trips to the store (3 to Home Depot or Menard's, 1 to Hancock Fabrics, 1 to eBay for foam...I don't think that counts though).

  • 3 Times I screwed up - luckily all minor and relatively easily money wasted!

  • 1 injury - cut along my right knee, not even sure how it happened.

  • Zero - number of "Before" pictures that I remembered to take


Cameron Ted said...

you may be in luck, there may be some party pictures that would contain the before look, I think.....

nice work! time to sell and do it all over again. Remmber to make it perfect, you do theat when it is time to move out lulz...

Thad said...

Looks great!

Anonymous said...

Wow looks great. Hardwood floors too. If I stay at your place I won't have to shampoo the carpets again first thing when I get there. But they may be dangerous when I can't walk or talk properly.

Michael said...

Steve - you won't get to shampoo my rugs but there is always a toilet brush next to the toilet if you get bored...I'll buy you a case of Keystone Light!