Saturday, October 4, 2008

Working with my hands

I just finished re-upholstering my old table (the original) with new felt and padding. It was quite an experience and I'm really tired right now. How the hell do people do physical labor for a living?!? My hands are swollen, I have two cuts on them and I'm physically exhausted. And this from only 5 hours of work! This is why I sit on my ass for a living I suppose.

I ran into a few SNAFU's that I probably could have avoided but it was good experience for me. This is why I tried to change the felt on the old table first before I did the new table. Learning by doing is the best way I learn.

Surgery started by taking off the old felt and padding. It was me to cut into the table for the first time. I was standing over my table, scissors in hand, and I got the strange sensation that I was doing surgery on my child. I almost couldn't do it, but hell kid, you got cancer and you're old man's going to save you.

I cut the felt and padding off (they were both super thin) and ripped out as many of the staples as I could. After taking an X-acto knife and slicing off as much material as I could, it was time to go to work. The first thing I did was unfurl the new padding and lay it across the table. And that's where the first problem reared it's head. The roll of padding wasn't wide enough to cover the whole table! It was short by about 3/4" on both sides. I panicked, but I realized after a while that the rails are 3" wide and I don't actually need the padding to cover the whole table. I got even more clever when I cut the padding for the table and then cut extra strips and stapled them down to the table, effectively covering the whole thing.

My best friend in these proceedings was the new electric power stapler I bought at Home Depot this morning. The best $50 I ever spent. Staples went effortlessly (ok, with some effort pressing down because the padding is thick) into the wood. I could NOT have completed the job with it. I stapled the padding to the sides of the table and some on top, making sure the padding was as flat as I could make it. It was a tough job, because the thicker padding (3/8") made it difficult to bend it around the corners, and also because the table has that stupid dealer's tray, which requires all sorts of other cuts and bends and staples. Much more difficult than I had anticipated.

Once the padding was on and flat to my satisfaction, it was time for the felt to go on. The felt is much easier to work with, being very thin material, but there was a lot of it. It draped over the table and got in my way. I had to staple it to one side of the table before I could hack away the extra enough for me to work with it. I left about a foot on all sides and sprayed the padding with some 3M adhesive. I had read on one of the poker table forums that if you put some adhesive on the padding, the felt won't bunch up as much and you'll avoid air bubbles. It worked pretty well though I killed my hands putting the rest of the felt on. I had to staple every inch or so under the table, all the while pulling the felt taut so it would be flat and even with no air bubbles. Two people would have been VERY helpful here (I'm taking to you Matty Ebs and Darko!).

Halfway through the felt stapling, my stapler jammed. It would have been an easy thing to clear the jam except the nut bolt that held the stapler mechanism together was stuck. I took my best phillips screwdriver to the problem, even using WD40 to loosen it up, and gave it a few good twists. I promptly stripped the thing. They just don't make stuff in China like they used to.

I eventually got the bolt off by twisting it manually with a hand wrench (ow, my hands, again), and cleared the jam. After stapling on the rest of the felt, painstakingly, and cutting away the excess cloth, the table was starting to look good. Last thing was the rails.

This caused me the most problems. You see, the rails have holes cut into them for bolts that are supposed to go into pre-made holes in the table. The idea is that you put the rails down and then screw the bolts in from underneath the table. The issue came when I put the rails on and discovered that the MUCH thicker padding I had installed was now pushing the holes out of position. I could force one hole into view from underneath the table, but none of the others. I ended up getting desparate and using long wood screws to screw the rails into the sides of the table. It felt a bit like cheating, but after wrestling with the rails for over an hour, it was all I could do.

Now, my hands feel like baseball mitts and I have an honest sweat.

Hard work sucks.

No comments: