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Making a Kid's Market Play Stand

A Lesson in Planning Out Your Projects as Much as You Can...


Not too long ago I was approached by one of my neighbors with an interesting project proposal. She wanted to know if I could create a small market stand for her children to play with as a Christmas present. Of course, I was totally on board!! However, I did have a few reservations about a project like this since... ya know... I haven't made anything like it before. But I wasn't going to let that stop me!



PLANNING:

Before I start any project, I try to do all the research I can to help myself avoid any unnecessary frustrations later on down the line. This typically includes sourcing the materials, seeing recommendations from other people who have made similar pieces, and planning out the rough construction process. After reading up on the materials and talking more with the client, I began putting together my plans.


I've found that many people will either use SketchUp or just plain ol' pen and paper when making plans for their woodworking projects. Personally, I prefer using Autodesk Inventor, as I've been working with this system since I was in middle school, but for this project, I thought I would try out Autodesk's Fusion 360. I've seen a few others use it when planning out their woodworking projects, plus having a background in Autodesk products made it an easy decision to make a transition. It's a shameless plug, but after learning the ins and outs of the program, I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking to start making plans in this fashion. It's an incredible resource, offering a full suite of modelling tools to help plan out not just woodworking projects, but also 3D prints, metal working, and almost anything you can think of! There are plenty of resources out there to help you get started too, from YouTube videos to full instructive courses, so don't be afraid to give it a shot!


Now wait, where was I...?


Oh, market stand, right!!


So after spending some time modelling, I came up with this initial plan.

Sitting at about 4 feet tall, 2 feet wide and a foot deep, with two shelves for storing what you may be "selling", this little market seemed like the perfect starting place. Once I got the go-ahead, construction began!


CONSTRUCTION:

The plans I created call for three 2x6's and one 1x4 fence post for the lumber, some fabric for the awning, and a bunch of pocket hole screws as joinery. So after a trip to Home Depot, I had everything I needed to get started building! One problem though... As I came to find out later, the 2x6's I had gotten ended up getting quite warped. Needless to say, I spent a whole day just getting the boards all straightened out again. Planning lesson #1: find boards that are as dry and as straight as you can get them from big box stores, otherwise you may end up with sawdust snow.


Once the boards were straight again, I got everything cut to length and began adding pocket holes. Now pocket hole screws should not be used alone, as they really aren't structurally sound. So I make sure to use glue whenever using this type of joinery. I got the sides put together and joined them with the two cross braces.

It was a hard process to get to this point, but I was really happy with how things were turning out. I got a little excited at this point and decided to see what the table top would look like, so I just dry fit it on the completed frame. This also ended up giving me a good idea of what kind of work I'd have to do on those pieces to make them work.


The next day I picked up where I left off and continued work on the table top portion. I got that part planed down to the correct height and checked the fit again to make sure everything was looking good. Next, I cut a hole in the top with a jigsaw for the awning support to fit through. After cleaning up the hole with a hand plane and sand paper, I screwed the supports into place.

Next I tackled the shelves, but this proved to be another lesson in planning as I didn't quite make it clear in my plans (or in my mind really) how I was going to mount the shelves. A few sketches later, I figured out that I could make a couple mounting brackets that attached to the side walls. This gave the shelves the support they needed and provided a way to mount them in place. Planning lesson #2: Always try to get at least a rough idea of what you're going to do before you make something.


Once I got the shelves figured out, it was on to the awning frame. Now my initial idea called for 3 dowel rods to support the awning, but this proved to be more difficult for me to create with a spade bit, so Plan B!!!

My new idea involved making a frame out of mostly square pieces, with a dowel in back that can be removed to attach the awning. Another part of this idea was to move the side pieces to the outside of the support, making the awning slightly larger. I ended up liking this look a lot more and I plan on making it this way if I ever make one of these again.


SANDING/FINISHING:

To say this was a lot of finish work would be an understatement. Keep in mind, this was my first real furniture piece and it's final users would be children. I began by going over the entire structure, filling all of the knot holes and pocket holes that I felt could be a hazard later on down the line. After that, it was on to sanding, sanding, and then some more sanding.


I initially went over the entire piece with 80 grit sand paper to smooth everything out and knock down the edges and corners on everything. Then I came back in with 120 grit for the table top, since this would be the area that would receive the most hand traffic. Once I was happy with it, I went over the entire body with 2 coats of Rust-oleum gray chalk paint, making sure to get the finish as smooth as possible. For the countertop and shelves, I wanted to retain the wood grain as a compliment to the gray paint. So I sealed them with 2 coats of polyurethane.

Last thing to do was sew the awning. For this task, I enlisted the help of my wonderful mother as I am still learning how to operate a sewing machine. After that, this project was done!



FINAL THOUGHTS:

Overall, this project was a bigger undertaking than I initially thought it would be, but I am really happy with how it turned out and all of the different things I learned along the way. Going forward, I know that I will definitely try to envision building a project before I start so I can figure out all of the problems I may run into before they happen. I think this will also help me to optimize my time when working on projects for clients as that time does matter!


So what are your thoughts on this project? Did you find anything useful? Let me know in the comments, as I always appreciate feedback of any kind!

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