August 28, 2013

If Dr. Frankenstein Made an End Table...

It might have gone something like this.

Back when I launched my new website,, I mentioned that I couldn't have done any of it without my uber-talented designer friend, Amber.

You see, my digital design experience begins and ends with re-sizing photos in Photoshop. Amber, on the other hand, is a bona fide graphic designer - as in, she gets paid to do it. I had the name and the inspiration for the logo, but no skills to design it or the fundage to pay to have it done.

Naturally, I resorted to what I know best...begging and pleading.

I'd like to think my sad face and puppy dog eyes convinced her to help me out but, ultimately, I think it was a combination of her being a genuinely nice person and my oath to pay her back with a custom end table she wanted for her living room.

I got the badass logo I wanted, and she got a free one-of-a-kind end table, made to order.

Sometimes I wish society still ran on the barter system.  Related side note: With a baby boy due in just a few short months, I kind of wish I was living in rural America in the '50s..."What do I owe you for the delivery, Doc - a few chickens and a bushel of wheat? Deal!"

God, I love that logo. It really visually reflects the stuff I make, doesn't it? Hello?
The coolest thing about it was that she told me the kind of style she liked and let me run with the design. I decided to make it out of 100% reclaimed wood so it would have some character and not look like it was fresh off of an IKEA assembly line.

This was probably the first piece of furniture I've made that I didn't really plan ahead of time. Usually I sketch something up and plan out measurements so I'll know every step before I take it.

This table was a creation in every sense of the word though, and I mostly made it up as I went.

All I knew was that I was going to need some old wood, and lots of it, so I figured that would be a good place to start:

And, despite only knowing the rough dimensions Amber wanted, I knew it was going to need a base for support:

Remember when I said 100% reclaimed wood? Well, it was more like 95%. The top support was new:

Let's give it some corners, shall we:

Constantly checking for level was a necessity, especially with old wood. Once the corner supports were established and the whole thing was (mostly) level, time to fill in the gaps:

Knowledge Bomb #167: Obviously I didn't care about cutting the boards to-size before attaching. After getting them all in place and nailed to the supports, I clamped a T-square to each side to act as a guide for my circular saw.

Doing it this way, I know I have nice, straight edges all the way around so the table top will sit evenly and level.

Annnnnd, then came the top, which I intentionally made out of different wood (rough cut cedar, if you're curious). You might have gathered that I'm a big fan of the two-tone look, like this or this.

With the basic structure built, I wasn't completely satisfied with it. I felt like it needed a little more dimension or levels or something. Plus, I didn't want my screws to show, so I added some trim around the bottom and just under the lip of the top. I beveled the edges to create more of a seamless look:

After giving the top an extra run or two with the sander, I applied about 4 coats of water-based polyurethane to the top, very lightly sanding between each coat with a very high (600 grit) sandpaper. That's about as silky smooth as rough-cut cedar is going to get.

This added a nice shine to the top, and will provide some protection against stains and water rings from cups.

I didn't seal the rest of the piece because: a) frankly I didn't think it was necessary, but more importantly b) I wanted to give Amber the option to paint it the color of her choosing at some point, if she wanted to. She is far more artistic than I, so it can be a canvas for her if she wants it to be.

Oh and you can't see it, but this puppy has wheels. Thought that might be a good touch because after all was said and done, it was a beast - weighing in at easily more than 100 pounds.


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