January 3, 2014

Discarded Shutters Become a Children's Dining Table

I'd like to tell you kids a story.

Once upon a time, I had some shutters. So I made a dining table out of them for Campbell and Gaines Jr. The end.

Riveting, right?

I've said before that I felt like most of my projects these days are kid-related. Turns out that's a pretty true assessment. Aside from the roughly 30 custom signs I made for customers from October - December, all of my "free time" projects have been for our kids.

I have accepted that, and now I embrace it. If you are doing the whole parenting thing right, then their lives become your lives. At least for the first maybe 2-3 forevers.

Listen, there's really only one excusable reason for a grown-ass man to know the names and dress colors of every single Disney princess. I do, and it's because I have a young daughter.

I WISH the song that's stuck in my head throughout the day that I can't stop repeating over and over was "What Does the Fox Say" (you. are. welcome.). Sadly, it's usually something from Barney, Dora, Caillou or Daniel Tiger. But, it is what it is, and I wouldn't want it any other way if it meant I had to give up a single second of Campbell's toddler years.

As our new baby boy grows, pretty soon it will be Thomas the Train, Bob the Builder, etc. Maybe at one point I'll put my head through a plate glass window, but for now, I'm soaking it all in.

Which brings us to one of my recent projects...a kid-sized dining table made from 100% reclaimed materials.

That is what I think of every time I walk past it. And I laugh - because that's a classic scene from Zoolander. You see, the table is in the eat-in area of our kitchen that is intended for a breakfast table and chairs.

But instead of an adult-sized table, it's all miniature: a place for Campbell and friends to dine. Eventually, Gaines Jr. will join her, but right now, those seats are reserved for Elmo, Cookie Monster, Minnie Mouse and Ariel. And that's where you'll find them, each with a plate of Play-Doh, and a small Starbucks cup.

I'm so happy with the way it turned out, I'm hoping it will be in the family for future generations. If it survives the first wave of abuse, that is.

More importantly, Courtney is thrilled with it. That's pretty key to the whole "will it ever get from my shop into the house" thing.

So that is the ending, but it's all about the journey, right? So, here's that part.

The shutters came from a friend who was going through a complete gut of their home. Instead of throwing them away, she gave them to me. So I left them in a special part of my yard I affectionately call "the bone yard" - where things like shutters, pallets, pane glass windows, etc. go to sit in the elements for a little while to get fully seasoned.

Hours of paint stripping, sanding, measuring and cutting later...

Notice the burn marks? That's from the heat gun, which is what I used to strip the paint. It still took freaking forever, but it wasn't nearly as messy as my last foray into liquid paint stripper.

With the supports taken care of, I moved onto the table top. I didn't want to do the same old "farmhouse" look with long boards on top, so I decided to make up a little design loosely based on my original inspiration for the entire project:

And I came up with this (post sanding, but before I tightened the gaps with wood filler):

The chairs. I wish I could say I made them, but I'm certainly glad I didn't have to. Making one chair sucks. Making four? Shoot me in the face. Luckily, one of my neighbors donated them to the cause, and didn't mind because they were just sitting outside her garage. She didn't need them anymore but was too emotionally attached (from her own kids using them) to toss them on the curb. Win/win.

They'd spent years outside, so were a little worse for wear. A couple of screws here, a couple of nails there, and they were sturdy enough. And after sanding, they were smooth enough.

Put it all together with a little paint, some stain, and a glossy finish, and...


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