Revamping a Dining Table

About twelve years ago I built a dining table from the plans out of Woodsmith magazine. While it served it’s purpose, it wasn’t exactly the nicest thing in the house. I made the top out of a piece of low-grade oak plywood that I bought at Home Depot. Not only that, but the table was huge being 44″ wide. My wife Anita asked if I could make a new one, or at least make a new top that was more in style. We decided that making a new top out of southern yellow pine and try weathering it making it look aged.

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The easy part was buying four 2 x 10’s, ripping them 9″ wide by six feet long and gluing them together. After they were glued, I planed the tops of the boards straight removing all the mill marks in the process.

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After the top was planed and sanded with 150 grit sandpaper, Anita applied mixture of steel wool and apple cider vinegar onto the boards to tone down the yellowness of the southern yellow pine.

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We thought it would be a good idea to stain the top while it was already on the table. I removed the original top of the table and flipped over the base onto the new top to decide how much I would need to cut the sides down.

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After messing around with the legs for a few minutes, I decide that the sides should be 24″ wide.

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I cut the sides to 24″ and rerouted the dado on both boards for the corner brackets. I then used pocket screws to re-attach the sides to the legs.

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Using metal corner brackets, I simply attached the top to the base. The new top made the table look more like a farm table.

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Anita then stained the table with Special Walnut, then Classic Gray stain from Minwax.

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Once dry, she applied hemp oil and gave the top a good waxing. She then painted the base with grey chalk paint. When done, it looked like a completely different table.

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A close up the table you can see how the southern yellow pine took on a deep rich tone. You can also see how the original black paint shows through the grey paint after Anita sanded the base a little bit. This has been one of those projects we should have done years ago.

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Restoring a Potting Table

I bought this table last year at a flea market for $4.00. Missing the drawer, the guy selling it considered throwing the table away as he thought it wasn’t worth much. At the last minute, he decided to bring it to the flea market and see if anyone would buy it. Well I guess I was the sucker because I whipped open my wallet and handed him four crisp one dollar bills for it.

I’m not quite sure if the table was built with the two bins in it or if it was retrofitted later on with them. In any event, I decided to keep them and see if I could bring the table back to life.

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Other than missing a drawer, the real big problem with the table was that there was a piece missing off the front near the leg where the dowel joints failed. I shaved away the roughness of the front with a rasp so that I could attach a new piece of wood to it.

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Once I carved out a new piece out of poplar, I glued everything together. I’m by no means a carver, but I was satisfied with the end result. I knew the table would eventually be painted so it wasn’t a big deal if the moldings didn’t match up perfectly.

Next I had to make a new drawer. I grabbed some more poplar and traced out the front of drawer by mirroring the shape of the back of the table. I also had to shape the contour of the front to match the curve of the front of the table. I did everything on the band saw and smoothed the wood with rasps and sandpaper.

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Back to more carving. I used my carving chisels and scooped out the front to match the curvature of the molding. I then used my Dremel and carved a 1/16″ groove down the front to match the groove of the molding. It took about an hour to do all the carving.

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Deciding how to attach the drawer front to the sides of the drawer, I opted to simply use a stopped rabbet joint and pin the sides to the front. I considered using a router bit and my router table to cut the stopped rabbets, but I figured I could cut them by hand just a s quick. I used my marking knife and scored the fibers of the wood where I wanted the rabbet to be. Then I very carefully pared away the wood with a chisel. Once I got so deep, it became easier to remove the waste without damaging the drawer front. It was very similar to chopping out the waste on the side of a tenon.

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The drawer was built using 1/2″ poplar and 1/4″ plywood for the bottom. The biggest deal with making a drawer is making sure the thing is square. Having a drawer shaped like a rhombus is just asking for trouble.

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The running stick was still in the table so I had to make a new runner for it. Whipping one up on the table saw and fastening to the table was no big deal. In order for the drawer to run properly, I used double stick tape and fastened to the runner to make sure it was in the right spot. Once the drawer fitted perfectly, I glued the runner to the bottom of the drawer.

A few hours in the shop and the new drawer fits nicely in the table.

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The table had some water damage to the top which caused the veneer to chip and break away. Making a new top for the table didn’t appeal to me, so I tried and out-of-the-box approach. I mixed up a batch of auto body filler and spread it over the top where it was missing the veneer and left it to dry.

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I did this step outside because the body filler stinks to high heaven. After the Bondo dried, I sanded the high spots with 80 and 150 grit sandpaper.

Here’s the finished table with a few coats of paint. My wife Anita painted it and sanded through the coats to give the table a worn look. I don’t think the table turned out too shabby considering I only paid $4.00 for it.

Making a Farm House Table

My wife Anita was getting ready for a design show she was doing called Over the Moon in Lawrenceburg, IN. She asked me to make a farm house table from basic 2 x 8’s I bought from Lowe’s. So I bought the wood and laid out the boards on the floor to see how big of a table she wanted. We ended up deciding on a table that was around 3′ x 5′.

When I bought the lumber, I chose boards with the straightest grain possible with very little or no knots. However, most of the boards I chose were still high in moisture content so I had to let them acclimate in my shop so they could dry out a little bit.

After milling the boards to one inch thick, I stickered them on the floor and placed a fan near them to help the boards dry out a bit. I placed weights on the top board just to prevent it from cupping. The paper towel underneath the weight is to prevent the iron of the weight staining the wood.

After about a week, the boards were down to a workable moisture content. You wouldn’t think that simply laying boards down for a week would change the moisture content that much, but it did.

Anita already bought legs at an antique show back in the fall for about $10.00. All I had to do was make the frame and top and assemble it all together. I used a 3/8″ beading molding plane to put a bead on the sides of the table to give it a bit of detail.

It doesn’t get much simpler than this. I used pocket screws to attach everything together. The idea of a farm table is keep the joinery simple.

Anita stained the top with gel stain and painted the base with chalk paint. The table was too wide to get through my basement door so I had to finish it in the living room.

I asked Anita if she wanted me to attach the boards from the bottom so the fasteners wouldn’t show. She told me no. She said “just screw down the boards and fill in the holes with plugs”. So I did just that leaving about a 1/8″ gap between the boards for expansion and contraction of the wood. After I was done, Anita sanded the top again with 220 grit sand paper and reapplied some more stain.

This is how the table looked when it was done and ready for the show. Anita applied a dark wax to the paint to highlight the details of the legs. She also waxed the top to give it some luster.

You can see some of the dark wax detail here.

Anita posted this picture of the table on her Facebook account right before the show started. One of her followers saw the picture and private messaged her asking Anita to hold the table, however Anita never saw her message. When the show opened, the young woman ran to her booth and asked if the table was still available. Anita said it was and the woman bought it right on the spot. It’s nice to know someone likes my work. haha.

CET Action Auction

It’s that time of year again. Time for my local PBS station to hold their Action Auction where they auction off a bunch of items from donors around the Cincinnati area. Nearly every year I donate a shaker style table to them. The first few years, I made these tables out of nice cherry, however, the past couple of years I decided to build them with southern yellow pine to save on the costs. I make these tables out of a single 2 x 8 x 8 I buy from Lowes for around $6.00. I wrote a blog about it a few months ago. http://wp.me/p1gfza-d2

I painted the table using chalk paint which is a limestone based paint that is popular among people who repurpose and paint antique furniture. The paint leaves a chalky feel on the surface and with a bit of sanding, gives the piece an aged look. My wife, Anita, stenciled the lettering on for me to give the table a little bit something extra.

As you can see, the joinery is extremely simple. The stretchers on the top and bottom of the drawers have mortise and tenon as well as dovetail joinery, but the sides are simply pocket screwed together. The table is not going to be under a tremendous amount of stress so I opted not to mortise and tenon the sides to the legs in order to save time.

The custom work is left for the drawers. They are put together with hand cut half blind dovetails, but you can’t really tell since the sides are painted. I probably spend more time cutting those dovetails than I do on the rest of the piece.

It’s a simple piece that will be a nice little accent table in someone’s living room or foyer. The Action Auction takes place in a couple of weeks and my table will be auctioned off sometime during the weekend. The table should do well since painted black furniture is really popular right now. Anytime I make a bookcase for my wife so that she can sell it in her booth, it sells within a week. All I know is that it’s fun to see my furniture on TV.  I really don’t get anything out of it other than a good feeling from helping out my local PBS station that continues to keep The Woodwright’s Shop on the air.

Making Chalky Textured Paint

If you’re familiar with Shabby Chic furniture repurposing, then you probably know all about Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint®. However, if you’re a woodworker who subscribes to every woodworking magazine out there, then you probably have no idea what Chalk Paint® even is.

Chalk Paint®, not to be confused with chalkboard paint, is a very easy to use paint that requires no sanding or priming to the wood. It is often used to revitalized antique furniture and leaves pieces with a warm matte finish. Simply wipe off the dirt on a piece of furniture and start painting. Its ease of use is what makes the paint so popular. The paint get its name from the chalky texture it leaves on the wood. The paint gives a piece of furniture a nice warm tone as opposed to the harsh look lacquer will often give. However, at nearly $40 a quart, the stuff is not cheap.

Annie Sloan is the British lady who invented the paint several decades ago. In fact, just recently her company trademarked the name Chalk Paint® creating a stink around the industry as there are several other companies out there branding their paint as a chalk paint, but only Annie Sloan makes the official Chalk Paint®.

Making paint with a chalky texture is not all that difficult. Many people will add an additive to latex paint like sanding grout or baking soda. Annie Sloan claims that the majority of her additive, but not all of it, is calcium carbonate also known as limestone. You can buy bags of calcium carbonate on Amazon for about $15.00. Each bag will make a couple of gallons of paint. Even though you’re technically not making Chalk Paint®, I found the additive to be close enough that it works just fine for me.

I bought a quart of Flat Black latex enamel at Lowes for about $10.00. Then following the instructions on the bag, I poured half of my paint into a container and added a 1/4 cup of calcium carbonate (limestone) additive to  the paint. I then added just a little bit of warm water to the to container to thin it out since the limestone thickens the paint. After stirring for a few minutes the paint is ready to use.

As you can see in the picture, the paint has a thickness to it. I simply brushed on a couple of coats waiting about an hour between coats. I then lightly sanded the piece with 320 grit sand paper knocking the paint off the corners and edges to give the piece a worn look. After wiping off the dust from the sand paper, I applied a wax to the piece to give it some sheen and to protect the paint.

Up close you can see how the piece is worn away a little bit at the corners and edges. What I like most about making this paint is that its intent is to make the piece look old. If the piece of furniture ever gets banged around and gets dings or dents on it, it will just add more character to the piece.

People who make their own chalky textured paint claim the biggest advantage is that you can make any color you want, which is true. However, my wife has found that the additive slightly changes the color of the paint. So if you go to the paint store and fall in love with a certain color, once you add the additive you may be disappointed with the color you end up with.

Over The Moon

Last weekend was the Over The Moon show in Lawrenceburg, IN. My wife Anita did really well selling her painted furniture and home décor items. People were even telling her that she had the best booth at the show. She did so well that the organizers invited her back for the spring show in April.

Helping my wife out, I made a few things for her to sell at the show. All of my EATs and NOELs that she brought sold which made me happy. I need to make some more and let her sell them in her booth in That Shop in Milford.

Here’s the china cabinet hutch at the show. A lot of people were looking at it, but most were looking at the things inside the cabinet instead of the cabinet itself.  Beside it were chalk boards that she painted. Those are a very popular item for her. I simply cut out the plywood for the frames, she does everything else.

I made a bookcase for her a few months ago, but unfortunately no one bought it.  I’ve made two other ones before and both of them sold within a couple of weeks. We’re thinking it might be the paint job that’s hurting the piece. I’ll make another soon and Anita will just paint it black and see if it sells quicker.

The one piece that didn’t sell was the china cabinet hutch we worked on a few weeks ago. However, Anita is happy about that because she wanted to keep it anyway. It looks nice in our dining room. Now she needs to work for the next Over The Moon show in the spring.

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.

https://mvflaim.wordpress.com/2012/07/10/turning-a-headboard-into-a-bed/

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.