Make a modern, industrial, reclaimed table for about $250.
For the last few years, I had grown to despise our hand-me-down dining room table and chairs. The table was a little small, and the chairs were in constant need of repair.
|Hand-me-down table and chairs|
For the last few years, I had also been getting into Modernism. There is something about having two small kids that makes you really appreciate simple clean lines.
After considering the cost of an off the shelf replacement and noticing the lack of moving parts, I decided to make one myself. How hard could it be? The only real requirement is to hold food about 30 inches off the ground.
|BTN Salvage Baltimore Warehouse|
I chose to use three 7 foot 2"x12"s. These particular pieces of fir spent the last 100 year or so holding up the roof of a warehouse on Russell Street in Baltimore, most recently occupied by the P.F. Feats company. Judging by the size and number of rings I could count, the tree was probably alive at the time of the American Revolution. Since they were so old, they were not just nominally 2 inches thick. They were more like 2-1/8". This heavy, sort of industrial look was exactly what I was going for.
The first step in turning this rough cut lumber into a table top was to lay it out. I tried to pick the prettiest sides for the top and hide the more dammaged parts on the bottom and the insides. Since these had been roof joists, each board had one edge that had scores of nails holding the roof to it. These edges went on the inside joints. There was also some pretty extensive water marks and lines from the original milling.
|Measure and mark for biscuits|
Then, both sides of one joint got a copious amount of Titebond II on the adjoining faces and biscuits. I used a little paint brush to spread it around evenly. I also laid down some wax paper on the word surface so I would not end up gluing my new table to the old one.
I chose to clamp the first two boards together for a while before joining them to the third. It was a little easier to prevent buckling. Anther big thanks to Frank for lending me his bar clamps. I put several clamps across the boards, and a few to hold them flat against the work surface.
After about an hour, I repeated the gluing process on the second joint and attached the third board to the first two. Again, I clamped across the boards and to the work surface to keep them nice and flat.
The next step is to wait a full 24 hours for the glue to set up before putting any stress on the joints. I went to bed and luckily, the next morning, the 28" legs I ordered from hairpinlegs.com arrived.
Before attaching them, I had to make the table bottom a little flatter. First, I used a block plane. I planed along the grain to take off the water damage and milling marks. I was a little surprised how well this worked. Then I made two passes with the power sander with 80 and 150 grit respectively. This made a pretty big mess. I would recommend curtains or anything else made of fabric from your work space. I hung a few drop cloths across the doorways to keep the sawdust contained. Since this was still the bottom of the table, It did not need to look perfect, but it was good practice for the top. Be sure to save some shavings and saw dust. You will need it later.
Now that the bottom was prepared, I positioned the legs 12" from the end of the table and 2" from the sides then attached them with 1-1/2" pan head screws. Make sure your screws are shorter than the thickness of the table top. I pre-drilled the holes with a piece of tape on the bit that would let me know when I got to the right depth.
To protect the surface, I chose General Finishes Arm-R-Seal, which is an oil based urethane. I vacuumed the surfaces with the brush attachment and then used a damp sponge to remove any remaining sanding dust. I took some of the shavings from planing the surfaces and shoved them into the joints where there was a bit of space in between the boards. Then I took some of the dust from sanding I mixed it with a few tablespoons of the urethane to make a filler. Using dust from the same material yielded a better color match than anything you can find at the hardware store. Push it into any gaps, knots, or gauges. Don't worry about perfection; it can be sanded down later.
|First coat of urethane going on|
|Custom filler made from sanding dust and urethane|
We finished our new dining room set with six VILMAR chairs from IKEA.
This was a fun, pretty manageable project. If you are lucky enough to own, or be able to borrow some of the tools, it is also pretty affordable. The materials cost break down was:
Lumber - $109
Biscuits - $4
Glue - $5
Legs - $95 including shipping
Urethane Finish - $16
Hardware - $25
That's not too bad for a one of a kind piece of furniture with an interesting back story and low environmental impact.