The one key thing that my earlier project lacked and the lessons learnt

It took me more than 8 months to make the display case project. Not just because of other things that kept me busy, but also because of my own faults. I still remember how many times I changed the plan either because I did not like the output, or because I did not have the required tools, or plainly because I had messed it up. Most of this tremendously increased my trips to the plywood store. Something as simple as buying a white sheet of laminate only to come back home and realize I have been using oft-white all along. Some of these mistakes added to cost, and the rest of it added to the time and effort involved. By the end of it, all I could muster was a heavy sigh of relief. 

So here I am documenting the lessons from this project just so I keep coming back to this before I start all my newer projects.
Before and after - Plywood to functional shelf
Before and after - Display unit built entirely with plywood

Working with laminates

  • I should have decided to use a laminate for the outer surface of the shelf. I first decided to stain directly on the plywood. Somehow it did not appeal to me, and so I decided to add a layer of OST and then stain. Somehow, that did not seem appealing and I finally ended up using a laminate.  Effect : Loads of wasted time and effort. I could have saved more than 10 days had I decided to directly go with laminate on plywood top.
Wrong choice of finishing resulting in waste of time and effort
  • I should have decided to use a laminate for the insides of the shelf. I first attempted priming the base and then applying white paint. Total failure. Then I shifted to multiple layers of Gesso and white acrylic paint. Effect : Awesome outcome despite the wasted time and effort.  But then when I started applying varnish, the whole output collapsed. Finally, went with oft-white laminate which worked in my favor. I could have easily spent about 15-20 days adding layers and layers of primer and waiting for it to dry.
  • I should have stuck the oft-laminate first before fixing the sides of the shelf. The shelf was built and then the laminate was stuck. The first time I tried to stick the laminate to the inside back of the shelf, the measurement was slightly off track and when I tried to remove the laminate, it cracked. AIYO !
Laminate on wood
Laminates can crack easily. I learnt it the difficult way
  • I should have known what laminate I was using. Despite the plywood vendor telling me that I bought only oft-white the previous day, I insisted he give me white laminate as a replacement to the broken one. I came home and realized he was right. PHEW !
Finally the wooden shelf was built to my satisfaction and it was now time to fix the glass shelf and the glass doors. YAY !

Working with glass

  • I should have known that the glass door will rub with the glass shelf if the shelf depth was not correct. Much to my dismay, I noticed it after all the installment was done. I had to take the glass sheet to the store to cut the edges off to ensure smooth opening and closing of the door. URGH !
  • I should have known the glass is fragile and is likely to break when something falls on it.I was installing the door and the hinge on top slipped and fell on the shelf chipping a piece of it. Another visit to the store to shorten the depth to remove the crack. WHEW !
Chipped glass
Chipped off glass and the rounded corner - Something to think of next time

Working with LEDs

  • Finally, I bought a good looking LED focus light for the shelf. I should have known that I did not have the tools to drill a hole that big and that the drill bit was very expensive. I decided to tone down the size of the focus light (now a single LED), just so I can complete the task. Major BULB !
    Install fOcus lights
    Working with LED lights - Choose those for which you have the tools

In a nutshell - Plan, plan and plan

If you re-look at each of the points all of it point towards lack of planning which was a result of either lack of knowledge or blatant oversight from my side. While the lapses did add to cost, they have also given me a better understanding of the aspects to take care of in the future. Have to plan so that no time, material, effort or money is wasted. I am sure I will still get some of the things wrong the next time too, but with experience I will reduce the number of these mistakes. And the goal is to eventually master the art of planning before commencing projects. This post is a reminder that I should consciously work towards that. Do wish me luck and let me know if you have had your own time / effort wasting tactics in doing a project.

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  1. Its not lack of planning, but lack of knowledge and experience.

    1. Rightly said... I have voiced the same opinion too that poor planning was a result of lack of knowledge...

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