My wife recently started a post-doc continuing her work on a Antarctic Marine Protected Area. With that came a move to California, first for her and later this summer for me. The job is temporary, and our rental house tiny, so we aren’t moving outright. Not long after arriving she told me we needed more storage (besides tiny, the house has 0 closets – oh joy!).
Reclaiming The Past
In truth, Adrian asked me to build a storage bench like this for a while. I recovered some old pine from door frames and lintels in a farm house I helped take down. The pine is over 100 years old, hard as a rock and prone to splitting.
A little work with a paint scraper, sander and the table saw created a set of boards suitable for the build. Given the age of the reclaimed lumber, it is safe to assume it had lead paint on it. I wore a respirator while cleaning it up, and vacuumed up the dust from sanding as I went.
I glued the top up from three 5 inch wide boards, aligned with biscuits. I don’t own a joiner or plainer and given how dirty and hard this wood is, I’m not sure I would want to dull the blades anyway. The table saw did a good enough job that the joints closed up on their own without excessive clamping.
Once finished, I used a hand plane, belt sander and finally an orbital sander to mostly flatten the top (and went through a ton of paper, the old pine really is hard). I wasn’t to worried about it being perfect. The imperfections and character of the reclaimed wood were the goal. I left the nail holes and even some of the paint on the top.
I added a few cross pieces for strength by gluing and screwing them into the center of the 3 board glue-up. The outer ends are screwed only through elongated holes to account for any expansion or contraction of the top.
A Dead Body
The carcass is assembled from 2 1/2 inch wide strips cut from the same stock. The panels are some scrap 1/4″ plywood I had in the shop spare. Because this is a quick project taking away from finishing the teardrop on time, I opted for simple pocket hole joinery. It is visible inside, but that doesn’t bother me much. The ends and sides are attached via a hidden dado. I attached the 1/2 inch plywood bottom in a rabbit with glue and brad nails.
I decided (well, let’s be honest, my wife decided) that we should paint the bottom portion a cream white and leave the top a natural color (stain, polyurethane, whatever, just wood visible). I ended up using natural Danish oil (i.e. without any stain in it). The dark patina of this old wood really showed through well.
I hate painting… Or I did. This was my first project using the HVLP sprayer. Normally these aren’t designed to use with Latex paint and this one is no exception. Without thinning, the nozzle on this sprayer won’t spray latex. Even with it thinned, the sprayer didn’t want to spray it at the rated pressure of 28PSI. A little higher it worked fine.
I put the primer down by hand with a brush so the foundation has brush strokes. The finished version shows these through. Next time I will spray both layers of the finish. The top coat of latex semigloss only took about 2 hours total for 4 coats. It is dry almost instantly (it was almost 100F the day I painted) so the only pause required between recoats was to let my compressor catch up.
Note: I’ve done a terrible job of taking photos while working on previous projects (this one included), mostly because I wasn’t thinking about blogging them. That is a recent decision. I promise, next project I’ll actually take pictures of stuff as I do it!