Cribbage is a game that I associate most closely with my father. I remember playing the game with my dad, and eventually my sister, once we were both old enough to actually understand the rules (and count to 15), long back into the fuzziest pieces of my mind.
I have always had an affinity for cards, card games, and the strange, arcane rules and lore that tag along with the whole notion of playing games with cards. I am quite sure that cribbage is a huge part of why. Long before the whole 'Jack of Spades' thing was even a thing, I liked cards. I liked the secret languages and words that you used only in card games, and I liked the idea that a deck of 52 little cards held somewhere within it the power to do so much. Perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself.
Let me back up.
In any case, the point of all of this retrospective is that in the process of tearing out these parts of the attic, we removed a few dozen pieces of old pine tongue & groove flooring from a couple places. You can see it up in that first picture up there, in the upper-right of the photo. It's back in the weird little recess where the ceiling is two feet high. For whatever reason, I kept it, rather than sneaking it into any of the enormous trash bags I put out for my poor garbage man. This instinct is very likely something akin to the beginning stages of hoarding, that itch that stops you from throwing it away, when you think, "Well this might be useful for something someday..."
That evil little voice is one that I argue with on a fairly regular basis, but at least in this case it turned out to be right. In conversation over a game or two of cribbage with my dear sister and her husband, (two of my favorite people, and who are no doubt at least partially to blame for putting this particular hare-brained project into the forefront of my priorities) I somehow got it in my head that a coffee table with a cribbage board on it would be extremely cool, and that I probably should make one right away. And I did have this old flooring from the attic, after all...
After a few boards, a great deal of elbow grease, and a lot of swearing, I realized a couple things: 1- something was wrong with my plane, 2 - the paint smelled kinda nasty when it chipped off the wood (probably lead) and 3 - the plane was probably dull from grinding away at all this nasty old paint. So now I had to learn how to fix a jack plane. As it turns out, there are numerous creepy videos on the internet that claim to be willing to teach you just that. Any time you feel like inspiring some strange nightmares involving creepy men in leather aprons surrounded by evil-looking instruments, look 'em up. I think Deneb is my favorite.
Next up was drilling. Lots and lots of drilling. Then I would take a break, and then there would be more drilling. At some point during the drilling, a piece of lumber fell off the rack above the drill press and hit me in the head. So that sucked. Then there was more drilling.
Thankfully, I managed to finish the drilling without screwing up any holes (yay!). Next, I assembled the various pieces onto a frame that was put together from various scraps and random pieces of wood from my basement. At this point I opt to plug the screw-holes used for holding the whole thing together with some sort of exotic hardwood. I found a piece at construction junction. It cost 4 dollars. Thus far the total budget for this project was 14 dollars: Four for the chunk of Brazilian rain-forest wood from CJ's, and 10 bucks for the honing jig I used to sharpen my plane. Total budget for time and labor at this point is pushing the $1500.00 mark. Sigh.
I had something of a dilemma when it came to covering the edge of the table, as my original plan of using some trim I had lying around wouldn't have looked right. I struggled with this for a day or two, and finally the solution came to me in a flash. I had a huge number of lath boards lying around. To be specific they were lying around in the brush pile at the bottom of my yard. I fished a few out and brushed off the ants, and got kinda stupidly excited about them. They were the perfect width, and were salvaged from the same piece of the house as the flooring. Lath boards are exceedingly rough and generally filthy, but as it turns out, with a bit of planing, they clean up beautifully. Yay planing.
With stain finished, I put together 4 legs from remaining pieces of flooring, opting this time to leave the crusty old brown paint on them, so as to have a record of the 'before' state of the wood.
After that, all that was left was to bolt the legs on and give it a few coats of varnish. And, of course to put together pegs. So far I have 4 different designs of the pegs, two of which are pictured here. I'm hoping to make some custom glass ones in my class at the PGC, but so far the sets I have are made from tapered steel pins with interesting hardware on top.
So that's it! Muggins!