I have a wobbly wooden side table in my living room. Its two shelves are painted orange and its four legs are painted light teal. It hasn’t always been these colors. The first time I saw it, it was painted turquoise and was in my dad’s bedroom next to his waterbed. I was eight years old and my dad wasn’t my dad yet. He was a man my mom was dating and the first one of her boyfriends that I actually liked and hoped she would marry.
Six years later my dad and my mom got married and that waterbed was the first thing to go. The side table stayed…sort of. My mom helped the side table (along with my dad’s extensive vinyl collection and his blue sparkly drum set) migrate to the garage. The garage was also called the boy’s club since it housed not only the remnants of my dad’s single days but became an after-work hang-out spot for his friends. I was an honorary member of the boy’s club, meaning I was allowed to be in the garage during boy’s club meetings. The meetings weren’t really meetings. They consisted of my dad and his friends sitting in metal folding chairs and sipping beer and talking about work or celebrities or their girlfriends or the girlfriends they wished they had while a sports game or the history channel hummed softly in the background.
When I got older the boy’s club became my dad’s and my special place. The place where we’d go to have long conversations about school or my trials with the guy I was dating or the meaning of life (one of our favorite topics). That table was always there, a place to rest my soda when I was young and my beer when I got older and would come home for holiday breaks from my first year at college.
My second year in college, I moved into my first apartment and literally had no furniture. I’d had my eye on that table since many years before, when my dad told me he’d made it himself in shop when he was in high school. The day we packed the car to move me into my apartment, I asked my dad if I could bring the table. Moments later, he’d pulled it into the driveway where he helped me paint it pink and red to match the rest of my second hand furniture decor.
It’s been twenty years since that first girly paint job and I still have the table. It’s traveled with me across California, for all of my 15+ post-high school moves into bigger and better apartments, flats, condos and houses. There must be eight or so layers of paint on it. Each layer representing a different time in my life, different place I lived and different aesthetic decor choice.
The table is over 30 years old and despite the build up of paint, is in perfect condition. I love that my dad made it, with his own hands. I love that it’s been with me through all of my style changes. I love thinking about all the people I’ve met setting things on it… people like my dad or my best friends or my husband setting things on it. I love remembering all of the places I lived that I’ve brought that table to. It is, bar none, my favorite piece of furniture… And… It was handmade.
There’s something so special about something that’s made by someone you care about. Lots of times these things don’t stay with you, like a scarf or a card or a candle, but things made from wood tend to be more permanent.
In homage to my dad, those long talks about life, the boy’s club, the notion of making things that are built to last and of course that lovely wooden side table, here are eight DIY tutorials all featuring wood. From shelves to garland to cutting boards to art, each of these tutorials has the potential to make something not only useful but something you or someone you care about may carry with them for years and years to come.
*big thanks to all the awesome bloggers and makers that created these tutorials. all photos credited to the respective websites and creators.