Friday, October 24, 2014

Murphy Bed Equals Murphy's Law Part 2

What's wrong here? Read on to find out.

As noted in my last post, Murphy Bed Equals Murphy’s Law, it’s not that difficult to turn a twenty hour project into darned near a life-long endeavor. At least not for those of us with an innate gift for complicating the simple. So it has been with building the Murphy bed. I didn’t keep track of actual hands-on time, but the entire process spanned roughly three weeks.

I’m not sure how Create-A-Bed came up with their time estimate to complete a bed, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t take into account a number of things that consume time throughout the process. For instance, just waiting for glue to dry and staining the wood. And let’s not forget the little first aid breaks. Nothing compromises the look of beautifully finished furniture quite like a blood stain. And too, there was the little issue of waiting a week for the delivery of an edging tool. 

Fast and easy!

Once the edging tool arrived it was immediately put to use on all those veneered edges that had been patiently waiting. The FastCap Quad Trimmer did not come with instructions. No need. Operation is obvious: line up the trimmer on the edge of the board, squeeze tight and zip on down the board for perfect veneer edging.

While instructions are totally unnecessary, a little note about finger placement during use (or some common sense on my part) would have been helpful. Turns out the strategically placed groove on the side of the trimmer, just perfect for fingers to establish a firm grip, is where the sharp, pointy shaved veneer exits. Oooookay! 

Finger placement on the tool is important, however.

With all the pieces cut to size, trimmed, edged and precisely drilled the task of finishing all the surfaces began. To me, sanding equates to being forced to eat lima beans as a kid: a necessary evil in the way of a great ending. However, with the sanding complete, and once the feeling returned to my hands, it was time to stain the wood.

Slather on, wipe off.

Staining is my favorite part of woodworking. It emphasizes the beauty of the grain, adds depth and draws out the subtle nuances of the wood’s character. You can also cop a respectable buzz, which is why I choose Watco Danish Oil. (Personal tests indicate getting 25% higher with Watco. (DISCLAIMER: Buzz results may vary, yours might be different. Oh, yeah, and I have not been compensated in any way by Watco for promoting their product.)

Application of the stain is simple: slather on, let sit for 45 minutes, wipe off excess then allow pieces to dry fully. The process led to a pile of stain-soaked rags, which led to a game of “What’s that smell?” the next day. 

“What’s that smell in the garage?” Mrs. Poynor asked the next day.

“It’s just the stain on the wood,” I replied casually. Like every other married couple I know, we’ve played “what’s that smell?” since day one. It’s a simple game where the woman identifies some odor, real or not, and tasks the man with identifying the source even though he can’t smell it. 

“No, it’s not the stain,” Mrs. Poynor persisted, “something smells hot. I hope we’re not going to have a fire out there.”

“It’s nothing,” I calmly assured her, “that stain smells pretty funky, and the wipe rags were really soaked…” With that, I blasted off my seat and dashed into the garage. 

In all the years I’ve worked with stains and oils mopped up with rags, I’ve always been meticulous about hanging the wet rags to dry outside. Not this time. The wipe rags had been left in a sopping pile on the bench. Bad move. I could feel the heat in the rags as I swept them off the bench into a bucket, and a lazy smoke rose up when I pitched them on the ground, outside. Science project complete: spontaneous combustion in oil-soaked rags is not an urban myth.

“You were right,” I admitted sheepishly. “That was close. Lesson learned.” 

“And I was probably right about the dead squirrel in the wall, too.”


“The rental in Oklahoma. When we were stationed at Ft. Sill in 1974? I said I smelled a dead squirrel in the house, and you…”

That damn game can go on forever. 

All was set to go. All the pieces were toted into the office and laid out. In total defiance of Murphy’s Law, the bed with the same name went together exactly as described, and was quickly attached to the wall. I stepped back to admire the finished product. The finish looked good. The surfaces were smooth and matched. Gaps were equal and even where the bed folded into the frame and was held tightly in place by two powerful gas pistons. Everything was perfect. I thought.

“Looks nice, honey,” my wife complimented, “but since you forgot to mount the handles, how do you plan on opening it?” 

D'oh! Had to retrofit the handles.

Bouvier tested and approved, but he can't open it.