Everyday Console Table

I call this piece the “everyday table” because you see this design everyday. I spotted this one at Home Goods just last week. It’s kind of a cross between a table and a bookcase. As far as construction goes, it’s very simple. Six framed legs with a top, a couple of shelves and a cross “X” on each side. In fact, there’s a website that shows how to build this table, pocket screws and all.

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Say what you want about the design and construction, but they are very popular and super easy to build. My wife found the website the other week and asked me to customize one to fit in our dining room as a coffee bar.

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Being true to form, I built ours out of southern yellow pine (2 x 10’s). I wasn’t a fan of the thick 2 x 4 legs so I milled all the parts down to 1″ thick.

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Keeping it simple, I used pocket screws and glue to attach all the pieces. The shelves are southern yellow pine boards I ripped and glued back together to create a quarter sawn panel so they wouldn’t expand and contract too much.

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The hardest part about building the piece are the X’s on the sides, but all that entails is cutting a couple of half lap joints.

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Here is the finished bar with a vinegar steel wool solution and gel stain on top to give the wood some depth. The coffee bar has turned more into a display table for my wife’s Rae Dunn collection, but that is another story for another day.

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I have since played around with the design again and built another one using eastern white pine. Construction is similar except I used floating tenons instead of pocket screws to build the frames. I’ll still use the vinegar and steel wool solution again on this one and stain it a dark color. My third design will probably have a thicker top and I may use plywood for the shelves. Stay tuned.

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Antique Tool Improver

I’ve been cleaning antique tools for over twenty-five years. When I was fourteen years old my Grandpa gave me a Stanley No 77 dowel machine that took square stock and turned it into dowels. Since that day, I was hooked on old tools. There was something about taking an old neglected tool that was just sitting around collecting dust and bringing it back to life that appealed to me.

I’ve cleaned hundreds if not thousands of tools over the years. When removing all the dirt and rust from an old tool, the final step is to protect it with a penetrating oil so it doesn’t rust again. For years I used Kramer’s Antique Improver and loved the way it protected the wood and metal of the tool giving it a nice sheen. The only problem I had with the oil was the price. At $20.00 for a 8 oz bottle, the stuff wasn’t exactly cheap, but it worked so well I kept using it even though my wife couldn’t stand the smell of the stuff.

Since my wife was no fan of the smell when I used Kramer’s Antique Improver, it got me wondering if I could make something that worked as well for pennies on the dollar. I didn’t want to reproduce Kramer’s exactly because John Kramer uses turpentine and solvents to make his oil. I wanted something simple that I could whip up in a jiffy using only natural products.

I started with melting beeswax. I bought a small 100% beeswax candle and cut a small 1/4″ slab off of it and melt it in the pot. You can always buy granule beeswax at a woodworkers store if you can’t find a 100% beeswax candle.

Once the wax has melted, I add equal parts of orange oil and mineral oil to pot and cook them for one minute. They sell mineral oil at a woodworking supply stores as butcher block oil however, I found mineral oil at the pharmacy for a whole lot less.

Once the oils have cooked in the pot for a minute I pour it in a container. As you can see, my container is nothing more than a Sweet Leaf Ice Tea drink I bought one day.

Using a paper towel, I rub the oil all over tool penetrating it in every spot. You can see the difference of the tool with just one coat of the oil. I usually coat the tool three or four times letting the oil penetrate the entire surface.

The oil works on wood just well as metal. In fact, I coat all my molding planes with the oil. The great thing about my oil is that it’s completely natural, there is no odor and it lasts just as long as Kramer’s. Not to mention that it’s dirt cheap to make.

Is Wood Magazine Going Shabby Chic?

I received the latest issue of Wood magazine yesterday and noticed a project on the cover that I had seen before but with a different twist. They showed an entry bench made from an oak door. I recognized the project because I’ve seen it done a few times before but only with an old door that was repainted.

The style is called shabby chic and is very popular among women. The idea is to take old items, commonly referred to as “junk”, and repurpose them into modern hip accessories or furniture for your home. There are thousands of websites and blogs as well as a number of magazines that focus on the shabby chic style. There are even a couple of TV shows where the hosts’ buy old items and use them as design elements around the home. Below are some old shabby chic doors repurposed into benches.

 

 

This one is very similar to Wood magazine’s cover photo.

I know all about the shabby chic style from wife Anita. She has a business called Bella Chic Decor where she finds old pieces of furniture and paints them with chalk paint to give them an old worn look. Sometimes she’ll ask me to repurpose an item she bought into something more useful. In fact, I wrote a blog about repurposing an old door into a headboard a few months ago.

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I don’t have any problem with shabby chic stuff even though it’s really not my cup of tea as it tends to be very femine. You may not be crazy about it either, but chances are your wife, sister, or daughter probably likes it. It’s all the rage these days and offers a cheap alternative from buying mass-produced laminated press board crap that you’ll find in retail stores. Often old antique furniture is solidly built, but just needs to be updated a little bit to fit with the modern decor of homes.

When my wife saw the cover of the magazine she asked, “why didn’t they just use an old door”? That’s a good question. The editors at Wood magazine estimated the cost of building the bench at $375. One could buy an old door on Craigslist for about $20.00, use poplar hardwood and birch plywood to build the sides, paint everything a neutral color, and end up spending about $100 for nearly the same look.

I can imagine the editors of Wood magazine sitting around in a meeting room asking each other if they should just use an old door and paint it. They probably realized that woodworkers love wood grain and consider painted furniture sacrilege. In fact in the first paragraph of the article, they mention that one could make this project using an old door from a salvage yard. It’s just a shame that they didn’t show a picture of a bench made from an old door to give the reader an idea of how it looks.

Turning a Door into a Headboard

My wife Anita and I bought an old door off of Craigslist a few months ago with the intentions of using it as a headboard for our full size bed in our spare bed room. This type of “recycled” work is new to me but it’s all the rage nowadays and my wife has just opened up a business called Bella Chic Decor where she rehab’s old furniture. We’ve been antiquing for a few weeks picking up a whole bunch of old furniture to build up her inventory and she spends time sanding and repainting it. She also has rented a space at a local antique store to sell her stuff.  She’s been doing really well and the furniture she rehab’s looks the bomb so her future looks bright.

Once we got this door home I needed to measure it and decide where to cut it in half so it would work as a headboard. I ended up using three panels of the five panel door in order for the design to make sense. Cutting the door was the easy part. I whipped out my Festool panel saw and cleanly ripped the door in half. Then I filled the door knob hole and latch with scrap wood and putty.

Turning the door into a headboard was a sinch. I knew the headboard needed to be at least 54″ long in order to fit the bolt holes for the full size bed frame so I added extra wood on each side from a 2×8 ripped down to 6 1/2″.

For the top, I simply added a piece of 3 1/2″ wide ash I had lying around and nailed it to the top with my pneumatic finish nailer. From there I cut and nailed a piece of crown molding I bought at Home Depot.

After I was done, Anita painted the headboard with chalk paint and applied a coat of dark wax then clear wax on top in order to protect the finish. The old door really came out nice and makes a stunning headboard.