My friend Leigh, the working artist, is always making something with wood, saws and hammers. I did a bit of that myself when I lived away from family. I nailed up the slats for a wood privacy fence after paying someone to install the fence posts. Using a Skilsaw, I built a walkway deck. I even installed a bolt lock. Somewhere along the way, I lost my courage to tackle these kinds of projects.
Leigh avoids the whole issue of gotta-work-up-some-courage by building her projects around standard sizes at the lumber yard. For instance, for the potting bench she just built, she used a 2-foot by 4-foot piece of one-half inch exterior grade plywood and purchased pre-cut 4-foot pieces of trim so that she had to do minimal cutting to fit. When she did need to saw something, she used a sliding compound miter saw or a Japanese Dozuki (a flush cut hand saw).
To save money, she purchased pressure treated porch posts for $13 each at Lowes. This was more economical than buying turned table legs or repurposing table legs from thrift shop furniture. She turned the porch posts upside down rather than having to saw off the slots where the posts were to be affixed to a porch. The back ones were left whole and parts removed from the front legs were added to the back legs to provide a way for the shelves to fit in the spaces.
The two urn-shaped finials were purchased for $2 each at Eco Relics, a local architectural salvage company. Most of the time, their prices are unfavorably high but Leigh found their finials to be better quality and, obviously, a bargain.
Here’s what the pieces looked like before assembly:
The finished potting bench is approximately 6 feet tall, 4 feet wide, 2 feet deep and the table surface is 3-1/2 feet high.