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Building furniture, day 5

I bet you’ve never before seen anyone rebuild the furniture in an Airstream in five days.

To be fair, I haven’t completed everything. So far I’ve managed (with Eleanor’s help) to rebuild, stain, and partially finish the gaucho, galley, half the dinette, and a lot of miscellany. That includes nine doors and drawer fronts. Still to be done are two overhead storage lockers, the other half of the dinette seat, the table, a cover for the water tank, shelving, and one bulkhead. Work-wise, I would say about 70% of the job is done at this point, because the pieces of furniture I built are the really fussy ones.

Even though I’m not going to deliver a complete interior to Colin tomorrow, I am reasonably satisfied with what we accomplished. The guys in Plattsburgh will apply two more coats of polyurethane, since I barely had time to apply one coat. More importantly, enough of the critical components are done for the guys in Plattsburgh to complete the plumbing and install the appliances. Whatever is left can be dealt with by me next summer.

caravel-stained-wood.jpgThe stain mix came out very well. The wood still looks like ash, but it has a mellower tone and the grain has evened out. Looking at multiple pieces stacked together you can see that they cooperate visually, which is important in a small trailer. One of the things that annoyed me about the old furniture was that prior owners had substituted oak in some places, with a matching stain color. The result was a weird sort of clash, where the color pretended to be the same but the grain gave away the secret.

After putting away the leftover wood and storing the tools, I tallied up the expense of this project. The total is $999.54, of which the vast majority of expense was the wood ($770). I could have cut the costs further by selecting a less expensive wood, such as birch, and using luan for the shelves and interior partitions. But the final effect of the ash with the stain mixture and polyurethane is just great, and I am sure we will not regret the cost later.

In fact, I am already happy to think of the money I saved by doing it myself. Between Eleanor and myself we have about 60 hours in this project. Even allowing that a professional might have done it in 50% of the time, we easily saved $2,000 in labor charges. And of course, there’s that self-satisfaction that comes from enjoying your own handiwork.caravel-finished-wood.jpg

I’m sure years from now when we are camping somewhere in our Caravel, I’ll have forgotten the tribulations of this project. I won’t remember the little tiny black bugs that kept landing on my freshly-stained pieces today, or the brutal humidity that put me into a dripping sweat at 72 degrees. I hope I don’t remember the moment I tipped over a bucket of stain on my feet. With luck, the interior of the Caravel will be what it is supposed to be: a peaceful retreat in which to enjoy camping and family, and make better memories than those.

Eleanor was not available to help me much today, but she did work on another construction project of sorts. She made a quilted bag designed specifically to house my new inkjet printer while it is stored in the closet. The bag gives the printer enough cushion so it won’t get scuffed in transit. It even has a Velcro flap across the top, so I can quickly deploy the printer and then slip it back into its case. It’s perfect.

We’re packing up to leave now. Our departure will be Sunday, and we expect to be on the road for at least two months, possibly three. Of course, with this week completely consumed by furniture work, I have a backlog of office work to do, so I expect a hectic week to come between driving and trying to catch up on work. Tomorrow will be the craziest day, since I need to somehow simultaneously get all this wood to Plattsburgh and get the Airstream ready for departure and deal with the business. Well, we got this far … I have to have faith that the rest will get done too.

2 Responses to “Building furniture, day 5”

  1. Rob Super Says:

    “I bet you’ve never before seen anyone rebuild the furniture in an Airstream in five days.”

    Roger that–took us more like five years! (OK, the whole Airstream thing was new to us, we were redesigning–not replicating–and working in aluminum rather than wood, but….) Very impressive. In a tent and in rain/heat/humidity yet. I think you need to re-evaluate your occasional “no mechanical ability” disclaimers!

    “We’re packing up to leave now.” Ahh–liftoff approaches! Looking fwd (doubtless less than you) to your travels. BTW: new printer & case sound like a big improvement over schlepping a 120-volt laser printer, and way kewl!

  2. Terry & Greg Says:

    Congrats on getting as much done on the interior rebuild as you did…that’s fantastic… and you are getting ready to push off this weekend to head west! Have a great final couple of days there and good luck as you set off on your adventure once more… We’ll follow your travels back to the SW and we’ll leave a light on for you…travel safe and enjoy the journey.