Fixin’ Up a Buffet

If you follow my blog, then you know that my wife and I have a couple of booths in antique malls where we buy and sell antiques. Occasionally we’ll buy old furniture and fix it up. This is a buffet we found at a yard sale for dirt cheap. It had some issues, but the price was too good to pass up, plus I knew I could make it usable again.

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The first issue I had to take care of was the stretcher on the bottom looked like a dog gnawed on it.

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The easiest thing to do was simply cut it off. Since Anita was going to paint the piece, I wasn’t too concerned about the dowel cut offs showing. Removing the stretcher didn’t cause the buffet to lose any stability.

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The biggest issue the buffet had was the runner on the large drawer on top was  completely broken off. There was no way  to properly repair it so I decide to make a new one out of some scrap wood.

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I milled a new piece to size and then used my Stanley No 45 plane to plow a 1/4″ groove down the middle on both edges.

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I then cut a wide groove down the face of the piece with my table saw and cleaned it up with my router plane.

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With a tenon cut on the end of the piece and a rabbet cut on the other end, the new piece worked perfectly in the old drawer. I tacked down the runner to the back of the drawer with a couple of small nails.

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After the drawer was fixed, I shaved down the edges of the doors with a block plane so that they would close better. Once the buffet was functional again, Anita painted the piece with milk paint.

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You can see how the milk paint gives the buffet old world character. This piece should sell quick in the booth.

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A Quick Harvest Table

My wife, Anita, wanted me to make another farmhouse table for her. She sold the last one I made several months ago and missed how it looked in her booth. So, I went to Home Depot and bought three 2×12’s and two 4×4’s.

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Two of the 2 x 12’s I bought, I planed down to 1″ with my surface planer. It did a fine job, but I had three garbage cans full of shavings that I had to burn in my fire pit in order to get rid of.

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I ripped the last 2×12 in half on my band saw, then ran kerfs down each side on my table saw 7/8″ wide so I could use them for the frame of the table. Ripping them down to 7/8″ would allow me to plane one of the pieces to 3/4″. Then I took the 1/2″ off cuts and glued them together to create a 1″ thick stock to mill down to 3/4″ back at the surface planer.

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In the past, I ripped kerfs down the sides of the board and then take it over to the band saw to finish up the ripping. However, this board gave me some real trouble as it kept binding up the band saw blade. Frustrated, I tried everything, even giving it a go with my rip saw, with no luck.

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I was so disgusted I threw up a picture of my struggles on Instagram and then a follower of mine gave me the idea of finishing the ripping with a sawzall. Curious, I gave it a shot and sure enough, it worked perfectly only taking me ten minutes. Social media is awesome!

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With the ripping done, I was ready to get back to business milling and gluing up the off cuts so I could still use them to build the frame of the harvest table.

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With the wood gluing, I turned my attention to the legs. Taking the 4×4’s I cut them to 30″ and turned a leg that my wife was pleased with.

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I then repeated the steps of the first leg to the next three. I ended up with four legs that were identical enough to one another.

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I wanted to use mortise and tenon joinery to attach the frame to the legs. so I set my mortising gauge to 3/8″ wide, the same width of my mortise chisel.

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I ran my mortising gauge down the side of the leg where I wanted a mortise and used the chisel to chop out a shallow area.

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Next I used a 3/8″ forstner bit and drilled down the depth of the mortise. Doing the mortise this way allowed me to not have my drill bit sway outside the mortised area.

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I then finished up the mortise back with my chisel making the ends of the mortise nice and square. This is an unconventional way to make a mortise,  but it allowed me to remove a lot of the waste much quicker than with the chisel alone.

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Test fitting the joint, I was pleased with the results. It took me less than an hour to cut all eight mortises.

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Using one of my beading planes, I planed a 3/8″ bead down the bottom of the frame boards. Cutting a bead on a seven-foot long board takes a bit of patience.

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Using pocket holes, I glued and screwed the frame to the legs and top. My wife wanted this table to be quick and easy which it was.

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I flipped the table over and was happy with my work. The top is just two boards lying next to each other, not even being glued together.

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My wife stained the wood with steel wool and vinegar solution and then applied a couple of coats of milk paint to give the table an old world look.

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Here’s the table in her booth with some of her antiques on top. Quick and easy.

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Another Dresser Turned Wine Cabinet

Last year my wife and I bought an old dresser at an antique show in Columbus, Ohio. We had a spot in our dining room we wanted to make into a bar area and the dresser was small enough that it would fit nicely in that spot.cabinet

I had to remove the drawers to make room for the wine bottle storage I was going to build so, I cut off the rail and drawer runners that were between the two drawers.

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The dresser was old and someone in the past tried to repair the case by driving nails through the side of the case into the end grain of the tenon. I took the tenon out and drove the nails back out through the side.

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After the nails were gone, I glued the case back together to make everything sturdy and square.

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The cabinet was going to be painted so, I bought some birch plywood and cut up pieces to make a box that would slide inside the case. I also trimmed the edges of the plywood with oak to match the rest of the case.

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The old dresser had a bit of detail to the rails that I wanted to match on the box I was building.

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I took my No 8 hollow molding plane and planed a shallow recess down the middle and rounded over the sides with my block plane.

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I had to carefully build the box to fit inside the case. It needed to be loose to slide in, but not too big that it wouldn’t fit. I made the box an 1/8″ smaller than the length and height of the opening of the case so that it would fit. I used simple rabbet joinery to join the sides together and a dado down the middle for the divider.

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The moment of truth. After building the box I prayed that it would slide in the case. Thankfully it did.

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My wife painted the case with black milk paint. She also sanded and stained the top and drawers with a gel stain. I then applied two coats of Waterlox varnish on the top and drawers.

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I wanted the left side to hold wine bottles so, I built diagonal grid out of solid oak and used dadoes for joinery so that the other side of the grid would slide through. This too had to be fitted carefully so that it wasn’t too tight to slide in. After everything fitted well, I took it out, stained and applied Waterlox varnish to the grid.

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Here’s the final cabinet sitting in the same spot. We removed one shelf as we felt the wine glasses hung a little too low. The cabinet came out well and was dirt cheap to build.

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Refurbishing a Dresser into a Wine Cabinet

Back in the summer, my wife bought a dresser from a couple in Kentucky on the Longest Yard Sale for $20. The dresser wasn’t in the best shape as most of the drawers were beat up , but we decided to buy it anyway because we knew we would be able to re-purpose it into something other than a dresser.

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We decided to turn the dresser into a wine cabinet so I had to remove the rails from the middle of the case. I grabbed my Fein MultiMaster and cut off the tenons that attached the rails to the frame.

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I cleaned up the middle of the case and strengthened the case where it needed with glue and clamps.

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The cabinet opening was 25 1/2″ square so I designed the inside to accommodate as many wine bottles as possible. I played with different measurements until I decided on 4″ square holes to fit the wine bottles.

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While building a couple of grids, I test fitted them to make sure they would hold a wine bottle without falling through. I made the grids from southern yellow pine and each bar is about 3/4″ square, 12″ long with a chamfer on the front.

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I built the rest of the grids and tested their fit again. The cabinet would be able to hold 25 wine bottles.

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Since the bottom of the cabinet was now open to the floor, I added a piece of 1/4″ plywood to the base of the cabinet.

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And because I added the plywood to the bottom, I had to trim a 1/4″ off the bottom to all my grids. Using my panel cutter and a hand clamp, I was able to cut all the grids to the same length.

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After test fitting everything together, all the grids came together nicely. I installed a 1/4″ piece of plywood to the back of the grids so that the wine bottle wouldn’t fall through the back.

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Satisfied with the grids, I turned my attention to the drawer and glued a new piece of wood to the bottom of one side as it was damaged. The drawer wasn’t opening smoothly so this repair helped out a lot.

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Because the grids were freshly cut wood, I wanted to age them to match the piece, so I brushed on an apple cider vinegar and steel wool solution to darken them up.

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My wife painted the inside of the case black and the outside grey with milk paint to let some of the original finish show through. She then stained the top with a gel stain and applied three coats of Waterlox varnish. This cabinet is now ready for years of use under its new life.

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Painted Apothecary Drawer

I built this apothecary drawer for a cabinet my wife bought a few months ago. You can read the post here. My wife needed to paint the drawer and make it look old to match all the other ones.

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The first thing she did was take a solution of white distilled vinegar with steel wool and wiped it on the drawer so it would take on an aged look.

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She then painted the front with white milk paint. She built up the coats to give the front some depth since the original drawers had multiple layers of paint on them. After the paint dried, she applied some green paint to front and quickly wiped it away as there was also some green highlights showing through the white paint on the original drawers.

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The drawer was a little too white, so she gently applied dark wax and rubbed it in. Getting a perfect match with the colors from old drawers is really hard, but she did a really good job making the new drawer blend with the others..

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Here’s the drawer with the rest of the them back in the cabinet. She got lucky with the hardware as she found matching pulls from a seller on eBay. She had to replace nine of the handles because when she bought the cabinet, it came with handles of two different designs.

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Bentley came to see which drawer was the new one, but couldn’t figure it out. Can you?

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Harvest Table

A few moths ago my wife, Anita, and I picked up some old barn wood flooring in Dayton to be used for a harvest table she wanted me to build for her booth. While the wood sat in the basement, she kept looking for the right legs to use for the table. In the end, she opted for me to make some out of Douglas Fir 4×4’s I could buy from Lowe’s. She searched Pinterest for a leg she liked and printed off a picture so I could make it.

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I looked at the picture and started to turn something like it on the lathe. I kept the top of the leg similar to the picture, but changed the bottom to be a bit more simpler. After a few tweaks, I was happy with the end result. Now the challenge was to make three more legs that matched this one.

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I used a piece of scrap wood and marked every major location where there was a bead or valley in the board. I then used calipers to measure those increments and carefully tried to copy them to the next turning.

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After several minutes of careful turning, my second leg looked very similar to the first one on top. Even if the legs weren’t exactly the same, it was fine as they would be far enough away from one another that your eye wouldn’t be able to see the difference.

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If you’ve never turned Douglas Fir, I highly recommend it. It sucks..sucks bad. The crap chips like crazy even with sharp turning tools. Fortunately since the harvest table was suppose to look old, the chips wouldn’t be a big deal.

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After a couple of hours, I turned four legs that sort of looked like one another. The final step was to put them back on the lathe and use my parting tool to cut them at all the same length which was 30″ tall.

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The simplest part about building the harvest table was actually building it. I simply screwed the skirt onto the legs using 2″ screws. I didn’t even bother plugging the holes.

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I used cleats and pocket hole screws to keep the sides from bowing. I then attached the top onto the cleats using 1 1/4″ screws. Super simple.

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This was the table before sanding the grime off the boards.

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This is the table after a couple coats of white milk paint.

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As you can see, once sanded, the milk paint gives the table a nice worn look. Even though this table breaks three of the seven deadly sins of woodworking, it works for it’s intended purpose. Just don’t expect to see it in a woodworking magazine anytime soon. All that matters is that Anita is very happy with it and finally has the harvest table she has always wanted.

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Making a Bench from Dimensional Store Bought Lumber

When my wife Anita does shows, I’m always looking for something that I can make fairly quickly that she can sell in her booth to help pay for some of her fees. After helping her do shows over the past couple of years, I’ve noticed that small benches are quite popular. They’re nice to stick out on front porches or foyers or even mud rooms. In fact, some people even use a bench as the seating for one side of their kitchen table.

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I designed this bench to be made from a 2″ x 12″ and a 2″ x 8″ that are eight feet long. However, if you change the dimension of the stretcher a little bit, it could be made form a 2″ x 12″ x 10′. The only issue doing that is you need to make sure your 2″ x 12″ x 10′ is choice wood with no splits at the end of the board because you’ll need nearly every inch of it. It doesn’t matter to me because I can’t fit a ten foot board in my car anyway, so I bought a 2″ x 12″ x 8′ and 2″ x 8″ x 8′ for under $20.00.

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The construction of the bench is super simple. I make the legs 9″ wide x 16″ long. I measure down 2 1/2″ from top and bottom on each side and use the lid from my garbage can to draw an arch connecting the two marks. Then I cut it off the arches on my band saw. I sanded the arches smooth on my oscillating spindle sander.

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The feet are 5″ wide x 10 3/4″ long. I draw a 1″ radius on both sides and remove the material with chisels, planes and files.

I want the bench to have four feet so I take two of the pads and cut grooves in them on my table saw. Once all the grooves are cut, I remove the waste with my bench router and plane everything smooth.

When designing the stretcher, I did nearly the same thing as the legs. I measured 2 1/2″ from each side and make a mark. Then I find the stretcher center and mark 2 1/2″ off each side of the center. I swing a compass set at a 12″ radius connecting the marks creating the arches for the stretcher.

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In order for the legs to attach tot the stretcher, I bored a 1″ x 4″ mortise through the legs with a 1″ forstner bit and cleaned it up with chisels. The tenons I cut on the table saw and band saw and cleaned them up with my rabbet plane.

After all the parts are sanded, I dry fitted everything together to make sure the bench looked right. I wanted the tenons to have a mechanical fastener along with the glue, so I drilled two 1/4″ holes through the side of the legs going through the tenons.

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I grabbed some scrap oak and split a few splitters of wood with a chisel. The pins run down the grain making them exceptionally stronger since the grain follows the strength of the wood. I sized the pins by punching them through my Lie-Nielsen dowel plate. I shaved the pins a little bit with my spoke shave so they would start to fit through the 1/4″ hole of the dowel plate. Once the pin starts to fit in the hole, I pound the hell out of it.

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After I was satisfied with the way the bench stretcher fitted to the legs, I started gluing and screwing everything together, I placed glue of the pins and inserted them into the tenons of the bench. I didn’t bother draw boring the holes of the tenon. I was already satisfied with the tightness of the joint.

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The bench was painted a duck egg blue and waxed over top. The next bench I make will probably be a different color. Maybe a black or grey as neutrals are always popular.

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You can see the detail of the top where the scrub plane left little ridges in the wood giving the bench a bit of detail. It definitely looks better than having a plain board for the seat of the bench.