Antique Nouveau Coffee Table
My good friend, Mark Malin, said to me, "Do you think you could make something like this, but with a window I have for a top?"
I loved the idea. So he and I collaborated to make a one-of-kind coffee table.
Ours (below) came in at $99 and change ;-)
The hinge-pin in this project was some great wood graciously donated by Doug Stellhorn (Barn wood) and Scott Pitcher (window, old barn post)
Step 1: This HEAVY table needs a solid foundation.
Make a frame out of 1" thick hardwood.
I used a Kreg Jig & wood glue to make strong joints.
This is how a Kreg Jig works.
It guides you to drill holes at an angle and just deep enough to not pop out the other side of your wood.
Now it's time to layout different combinations of barn wood.
Bring in Mark to get his opinion.
For the room this will end up in, red was discarded.
I decided I need to run hex head screws through the top of the barn wood into the hardwood frame to ensure a good bite.
Shiny hex heads won't do. I need to RUST them!
Everything now comes with an anti-rust coating.
Clamp the angle grinder to the workbench and scrape off the coating!
Put (roughly) equal parts of water, white vinegar & bleach.
This image is 5 minutes into the process.
The washers didn't rust as well since I couldn't run them on the wire wheel.
I gave them a faux treatment w/some hammered bronze spray paint.
After an overnight soak...
Honestly, this is one of my favorite parts of the whole project ;-)
It IS in the details.
Shiny bolts would have been sacrilege.
What a difference a day makes...
Just the look I hoped for.
The base now looks like it is one old piece--maybe some kind of palette from an industrial warehouse from the 1930s...
(Note the edge is still rough here--uneven)
Clamp a metal straight edge and even up the edge with a circular saw.
Our rusty bolts & washers at home in an old worm-eaten board.
I love this board, so it goes in the middle, as to be highly visible.
The only prep I did to these wonderful old barn wood boards was a light hand sanding,
not to get to a clean layer of wood--just to knock off the decades of dirt.
(And BTW every bolt and screw was predrilled. To keep the barn wood from splitting and because the hardwood base was...well, hard ;-)
Base is done. Now what kind of legs to support the top?
I asked my friend and "King of antiquities" Scott Pitcher if he had any old beams.
I found this gem--where? On the bottom of the pile ;-)
It's a 7'x7' hand-hewn bean, probably from the inside of an old barn.
Some 80 years or more later, it is still stout! Heavy, dense and ready for decades more of life!
Being 7"x7" and no true sides or angles, I took it out to the great people at Rodger's Supply in Russiaville.
$20 later, they cut into 4, 15" pieces for me.
I couldn't ask for a better match for this base--perfect!
Even though our inspiration piece had legs turned on a lathe, I think these chunky square legs fit the design better and tie into the square theme of our window top.
I had to notch out each post.
Why? If not, when you looked down through the corner panes of the window top, you'd see part of the post top.
My poor cheesy 10" table saw barely got this done. It locked up several times and set off our smoke detector ;-)
These are old but SOLID!
New table saw--someday...
Anytime you cut into an old piece of wood, you expose really bright new-looking wood.
(And the burn marks of my cheesy table saw ;-)
Solution: paint the inside cut brown to match the top.
It will make the cut visually "go away" and will help tie the top into the base.
These legs have so much character...love 'em!
Thanks to the tip from Rodger's Supply I treated these beams (and the rest of the wood) for Powder Post Beetles.
(Little critters responsible for the tiny holes.)
Paint the hardwood base to make it visually "go away" and tie into the top as well.
I hate to paint good hardwood, but sometimes a project calls for sacrifice.
Special note: the hardwood on this project is from Mike Bolinger's private stock...this is incredibly meaningful to both Mark & myself.
This piece now has a story...
Now to prepare for mounting the legs to the base:
The base is now upside down. I've predrilled the hole.
Now I'm using a Dremel tool to rout out room for the head of a lag bolt and a socket that will have to fit over the bolt.
Typically you'd use a forstner bit, but getting this base in a drill press--not going to happen ;-)
Two 5" lag bolts in each leg.
Two 5" lag bolts per leg.
Plenty of wax on the lag to drive it into those hard posts.
One of the lag bolts actually snapped off during tightening! That's when I went to the wax ;-)
To attach each leg, I first positioned it on the base, then took 2 clamps and jammed them in place.
Then, tip the whole monstrosity on its side, pre-drill into the leg, and ratchet in the lag bolts.
Cut & sand 4 feet out of some scrap hardwood.
Inset the feet to hide them from view and hide the lag bolts ;-)
Use a plunge router to inset the bracket that will attach the window top to the base.
(Yes, detailed peeps, I could have gone a tad shallower ;-)
Here's the top...window that is.
It's older, but not super old. The panes are faux frosted that Mark will remove later with a razor blade.
The bones of this window are solid, including good glass.
But it's a little rough...
Oops--there a void where wood is supposed to be...
No prob--cut a chunk to fit...
The edge of the window is rough.
Solution: trim it out with some hardwood.
Of course pre-drill & countersink the holes to hide the screw heads.
To get the trim flush with the top of the wondow, I screwed some scraps to the window and pushed the trim up to to the scrap pieces.
I intentionally left the one side long--that way I could sand it to make it meet the other piece for a perfect match.
Apply the wood filler with a putty knife. Don't be shy with it.
After it dries it's just like wood. Sturdy, durable, stainable, paintable.
And after the palm sander ;-)
First with rough 80 grit, then some fine 220.
To finish the base I used Tongue Oil, as advised per Mike Bolinger.
He told me to get "high gloss." It's NOT glossy but gives a nice natural sheen.
The Tongue Oil warmed it up and brought out the natural goodness and character of the well-aged wood.
This old wood did all but make slurping noises as it drank up the Tongue Oil.
It took 1 1/2 cans of it to get one coat! And 1 coat is all she needed.
Shoot a couple screws up into the top & she's on.
Once I dry-fitted the top, I numbered each bracket & corner of the table to make sure it fit properly when it got to Mark's home.
With a project like this, everything isn't true & straight so it might matter which way the top goes.
(This is corner #1)
Here's a good shot of why the legs needed to be notched out.
If not, they obstruct the view from the topside.
I didn't even try to cleanup the cut. The rough cut fits in with these posts perfectly.
These are the products I used and they're all great.
Tongue Oil for the finish.
Wood filler for the trim around the window.
And Paste Finishing Wax is the game-changer:
You know when you paint a piece of furniture and it seems like it always feels a little tacky, especially when it's humid?
A few coats of wax over paint and your paint finish will look GREAT and the finish will feel like furniture is supposed to. Smooth!
Put another coat on a year or so later if you want.
I also used it on the lag bolts to screw in easier.
This is just a gray coat of primer on the window.
Mark will paint it chocolate brown later to match his other table in the room in which this will reside.