Session 2 – Project WEST

Metal and Wood Coffee Table

The Project WEST Model

Session 1 – Project WEST – Metal and Wood Coffee Table

This is Session 2 – Project WEST. The crazy idea I’m working on where I work with a welding student to build a welded steel piece we can give away as a fundraising item, where everyone involved benefits.

I’ve been describing it as a win, win, win scenario. Here’s how it works:

I get awesome content and help promote our build, Ryan (the student) gets hours toward his trade to help with finding a job by showing his character, and the Daycare we’ve chosen will get a gorgeous piece to raise funds for the kids. Win, win, win.

You can help us! To ensure this project can continue in the future is to just read along and share it with someone you think would love it.

Session 1 was a bit of a slow start and after having a good think about how I want this project to go, I need to accept and acknowledge that this is a big crazy idea and I’m going to need help. I don’t have to do everything myself. I don’t have to design a completely original piece and work out dimensions myself while still mentoring someone, providing space and materials, creating support, and writing about it all. It’s okay to use someone else’s plans.

We need to just buy new material and go with the plan already drawn out by Jen Woodhouse.

Here’s the design:

The main goal of this project is to have everyone involved benefit. That includes Jen (… like we are on a first-name basis – maybe one day…) Be sure to show her some love by checking out what she’s doing above.

Rendered drawing of the planned finished table. Session 2 - Project WEST

Click this for Jen Woodhouses printable plans including her plywood cut map.

Rendered drawing of the planned finished table. Session 2 - Project WEST

Session 2 – Metal and Wood Coffee Table

I ordered 1″ X 1″ X 1/16″ material from Cariboo Steel and Machine. From just a quick conversation, “What are you building?”, “A coffee table to donate.” They were willing to support us with a little adjustment to our steels price. Thank you for the early support!!


Metal and Wood Coffee Table rendered drawing with overall dimensions

Steel Frame 1” x 1” x 1/8” material

Metal and Wood Coffee Table steel base rendered drawing with dimensions.

Materials List:

  • 1 sheet 3/4” ‘good one side’ fir plywood
  • 16’ of 1”x 1”x 1/8” square tubing
  • 8″ of 1/8”x 2” flat bar
  • 2 large drawer pulls + hardware
  • 2, 1/4″ x 1 1/2″ machine screws + nuts
  • Wood supplies: Wood glue. 18 gauge 1 1/4” Brad nails. Kreg Jig and screws.
  • Welding supplies: 3/32” 7018 welding rod. Various sizes of grinding discs. Sanding discs.

Session 2 – Project WEST

Steel base build day

Ryan came with me to pick up our steel. I want him to be involved in the whole process of a build.

While cutting material, there was a mismeasure, and a metal base piece got cut 1″ too short. As Ryan realizes the mistake and explains the situation to me, I am secretly excited trying to look appropriately worried while also trying to hide a smile because we get to repair it.

We are running out of time for the day and I have to pick up my son before his daycare closes but I’m excited and scrambling to set up while explaining what I’m doing. I set up my MIG machine with some solid wire (its what’s already in there) and put a little bevel on both the square tubing pieces.

MIG fix bevel

We clamp the pieces into some scrap angle to make sure they are aligned and tack at the 3 visible corners. I demo running a bead into the groove we created as well as demoing how to feather the tacks and welds at each corner before letting him take over grinding and welding the remaining 3 sides.

Mig fix beveled pieces in angle

With this piece repaired we can grind the welds flush then cut our piece to (the correct) length and begin assembling the table base.

Cleaning up and inevitably the conversation goes to how many hours we worked that day. I think we did about 6 hours today and he is surprised I am including time picking up material and cleaning up as hours toward welding. He thought welding hours literally meant ‘arc on’ time only.

I laugh.

I believe picking up material and cleaning up is all part of welding because it’s a part of all trades. If my shop is a complete mess, I explain, what does that say about my work? Learning to take pride in and even enjoying the feeling of leaving your workspace ready for the next work session isn’t specifically welding, but just being a good tradesperson. Very important.

My personal biggest takeaways from Session 2 – Project WEST

If I get really real about why I chose this design, it’s because one of the amazing carpenter women I follow tried out some welding! Her post for this exact metal and wood coffee table was actually, emotional. At first, I felt defeated.

“Ugh, she’s doing so well what I want to be doing Lincoln Electric even gave her a machine, helmet, and who knows what else. Why should I even continue to try?”

But that was the small me and when I read through, watched the video, and confronted my own reaction – It was my self-doubt talking. Then I got inspired. How do I add to what she’s doing? How do I even BUILD on that? By using my strengths and expand on the metal component plus adding the Project WEST model for a real build!

If I put myself in her shoes for a moment, I would be stoked if someone took one of my ideas and used it in a way that enhances both creators.

She’s not my competition. She’s my inspiration. That truth is so much more powerful!

Stay Awesome,


Rendered drawing of the planned finished table. Session 2 - Project WEST

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