Making a Nesting Box

I had some reclaimed barn wood flooring lying around in my shop for a few months that I wanted to get rid of. I originally bought the lumber to use for a farm table, but I decided the wood was too thin to use for the top so, I decided to make a 3′ long nesting box out of it.

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I used my Stanley No 8 jointer to plane the edges square and straight so they could be glued together.

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After I planed the edges true, I glued the pieces together to make the nesting box wider. I didn’t bother planing or sanding the sides as I wanted the box to have a rustic look.

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I cut the top sides of the box to an angle of 14″ which is the total width of my leftover pieces. I then nailed the sides to the bottom with my 15 gauge pneumatic nail gun.

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Next I installed the front rails to the box simply nailing it on. I didn’t even use glue as I really don’t care.

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No fancy dados to fit the inside walls to the box. I simply toe nailed the wood to the bottom of the shelf.

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The finished nesting box came out well. Looks old and rustic which should appeal to the shabby chic crowd out there for design purposes.

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These things are so easy to build that I built another one an hour later. No real milling of lumber, no sanding, no gluing. Just cut and nail. Definitely an entry-level woodworking project. I’m just glad I have $50k in woodworking tools to build them. haha

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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.

What Do You Think of this Style of Furniture?

Having a woodworking blog, I know that a lot of people who follow me are also woodworkers. And if I know woodworkers, it is that they love wood grain. So much so, that the whole idea of painting a piece of furniture that they make is often considered sacrilegious. However, I also know that many women who usually buy furniture for their home would rather have a piece of furniture that goes with their décor. Beautiful wood grain is something many of them don’t even think about when picking out a piece. So I decided to do a little nonscientific poll to see what people think of the following piece of furniture.

This is a buffet my wife bought at an auction. She wanted to paint the base, but leave the top a natural wood tone. She sanded the top and oiled it with hemp oil. Some people call this type of furniture restyle Shabby Chic. I’m not sure if this is technically Shabby Chic or French Country or whatever. My wife calls it Elegant Farm House style.

Below you can see some of the detail of the wood after it’s been painted. To me, the architectural details of the moldings stick out a little more and are not muddled in the wood grain when the piece has been distressed. But what do you think?

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Please feel free to Share this post. The more people who see it and vote, the better.

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.

Updating a China Cabinet

My wife bought this china cabinet at the Springfield Antique Show in Springfield, OH in September. It originally came with two glass paneled doors but she wanted to take them off and open up the top part of the cabinet for easy storage. We have a similar china cabinet in our dining room now and opening and closing the doors every time I want to unload my wallet and keys is kind of a pain in the ass, so taking the doors off permanently make sense to me.

You’ll see a lot of china cabinets with their doors removed in antique stores but most of them simply take the doors off and paint the piece leaving the sides of the case 3/4″ thin with the hinge mortises exposed and all. I knew I didn’t want to have that look, so I decided to add stiles to front to complete the case.

I started by milling two pieces of poplar 1″ x 1 3/4″ x 36″ and laid out where I wanted to rout fluting down each piece.

I then clamped the pieces in my modern Moxon vise and used a 1/4″ fluting bit to rout a flute about 1/4″ deep down the front of the stile. I opted to have three flutes 1/4″ apart down each stile.

The scrap portion of the stiles is key. Here I gauged where the fluting should go and then tested the layout. As you can tell, I had to move over the middle flute just a tad in order for it to line up evenly with the other two flutes on the side.

After the fluting was routed, I sanded the stiles and glued them onto the cabinet.

The reason I decided to use 1″ thick poplar 1 3/4″ wide is because I wanted to match the stiles to the top rail as it was 1″ x 1 3/4″. Had I used wood that was only 3/4″ thick it wouldn’t have looked as nice appearing like the stiles were an add on which I did not want.

The fluting on the china cabinet’s leg started up 2″ from the bottom so I mirrored the detail starting and stopping the fluting on the stiles 2″ from the top and bottom.

This is how the cabinet turned out. The fluted stiles gives the piece a nice added touch and finishes it off. It will be sold in my wife’s booth at a vintage designer’s market called “Over the Moon” in Lawrenceburg, IN near the end of the month. I think my wife secretly doesn’t want it to sell because she wants to keep it. I can’t blame her.

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.