Sunday, June 9, 2013

Looking back at another piece... leaf cabinet

I picked up something different at a flea market yesterday, so my next project has begun... but you'll just have to wait a bit until I get it done before I can tell you more.

In the meantime, let me throw out here a piece I finished up last year. Unfortunately, I have to admit this one was not made of upcycled materials.

This was a new cabinet for the first floor of my home. I live in a rather unique home, the first floor is entirely open, just one big room. There's a catwalk that goes across the room from above, connecting the bedrooms on the higher floors.

Partly because of that open format, the kitchen area is low on storage. The new cabinet allows me some extra room for bowls, the food processor, crockpots, etc.

Most of the cabinet is made from simple MDF board. I intentionally didn’t use real wood because I wanted it to be a very smooth surface without any grain.

For the top, I cut leaves out of pressed wood so that the textures in the wood mimic the look and feel of a tree. (My house has several different levels, reminding me of the Swiss Family Robinson tree house so I've been working toward a "tree/leaf” theme throughout the house.)

The leaves are stained a medium color, providing a hard contrast with the black in the rest of the piece. I routed out the shape of the leaves into the top of the cabinet so that they fit in flush to the surface. The whole top is then covered with an epoxy resin.

Finally, the “glass” is plexiglass that I sanded on one side to provide the opaque look.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Firefighters side table

The college where I work partners with a local company each year on a golf tournament fundraiser. Money from the event supports the college's safety training center where we train firefighters, emt and other safety rescue personnel.

During a meeting about a month ago we were talking about getting items for a raffle. Sitting there an idea formed in my pea pickin` brain about a table I could make for the raffle. After the meeting I couldn't stop thinking about it and really began to like the idea, but I wasn't sure I would have the time to get it done.

I eventually decided I just didn't need to add another project to my list and let the idea go. But it wouldn't let go of me. It just kept popping into my head and finally, after not being able to sleep much of one night as I tossed and turned thinking about it, I knew I wouldn't be happy if I didn't do it.

Ultimately, the deciding moment came when I rummaged through the workshop and realized I had enough leftover materials from previous projects to make it happen.

The top is roughly 16 inches square, made from a 2 x 6 joined together with glue and biscuits. It stands about 18 inches high. The base is made from a leftover landscaping timber, the same as I used in the bowling alley tables I talked about in a previous post.

I burned the emblem into the top with a woodburning pen. That was the most laborious part of the whole project, probably taking a good three to four hours to complete. I then used a torch to add the additional burn markings.

The top is covered with epoxy resin, like that used on bar tops. The rest of the piece is covered with three coatings of spar varnish, used to protect boat exteriors. I figured it's something a person will put outside on their deck or patio, and I wanted to make sure it was protected against rain.

This piece really did come out the way I had imagined it, it's not often I can say that. I really wouldn't mind keeping it for myself but that's not what the plan was so I will be donating to the cause. Hopefully it will help sell a few raffle tickets at the tournament tomorrow.


Saturday, June 1, 2013

Wine room table

I’m in a bit of a creating mood right now so when the excuse to make something different came up, I grabbed it.

A friend of mine is putting her house up for sale and, as all the good HGTV shows tell you, you have to stage a home to attract buyers. She has a small wine room in the house that she never uses and I told her she needed to stage it. I suggested she put at least a few bottles on the shelves and then get a little table to put in the back, with a bottle of wine, a couple of glasses and maybe a corkscrew, just so people might imagine how the room can look.

Well, she doesn’t have the table and is busy painting and doing the many other things people do when they are getting their homes ready for sale, so I decided to surprise her and make a table for her.

As with my previous project, all of the wood in this one is just leftover scraps from previous projects... (still trying to stick with that upcycling/sustainable kind of theme in at least a general way.) I simply cut, glued and nailed the wood together in a basic design and painted it all black.

The finished piece is roughly 30 inches tall and 16 inches square at the top. The top is made from wine corks. I used about 90 of them, all of which I cut in half on a tabletop jigsaw.

I wish I could say they were used corks but I had to resort to buying new ones, $15 for a bag of 100. If anyone out there would like to donate your used wine corks to me, I’d love to have them. I’m sure I can come up with an idea for a future project.

Because new corks are pretty plain looking, I stained them with a medium and a dark stain, left over from the flooring I put in my basement. There are grape leaves imprinted on the corks . I cut them randomly so the imprint is fully there on some, half there on others, not there at all on others, and so on, because I didn’t want a uniform look.

I laid the corks on the top of the table, with the wood edge around the table slightly higher than the corks. I then covered them with an epoxy/resin like you would see used on bar tops.

Here’s where I have to embarrassingly admit to one of my mistakes, corks float. Who knew??? I know, it’s pretty obvious but for whatever reason I didn’t even think about gluing the corks down. Sure enough, as soon as I poured the resin in they started to float upward.

There really wasn’t much I could do at that point but keep fiddling with it, trying to push the corks as far down in the resin as possible. Of course, as I pushed down three or four here, three or four others would spring up.

For the most part I was able to work it out, but I wouldn’t advise trying to do it the same way again. I had to apply the epoxy/resin three times to cover them all, and fidget with it flowing over the side, which I would not have had to do if I had done it correctly in the first place.

I learned some things that I would do differently in the future and that's what it's all about, learning and improving. And, in the end, I’m still pretty happy with how it turned out.