This guest blog post was written by Zach Schiller, a third-year interior design student at the Art Institute of Raleigh-Durham and a member of the ASID student chapter. He specializes in custom-made pieces using locally-sourced, sustainable materials (including those found at the ReStore!)
This piece will be up for auction at the Raleigh location starting September 2nd. For more information on the auction, click here.
Looking for new furniture can be exciting — and also really expensive. Many high-end furniture pieces cost hundreds or even thousands of dollars. But with a little creativity, imagination, and some basic woodworking skills and tools, you can create your own masterpiece.
I highly encourage you to visit Habitat Wake ReStores. They have tons of stuff for almost any project. Even better, is the money you spend at goes to fund Habitat Wake’s efforts to build affordable housing alongside partner families in Wake County. Families apply to become buy a Habitat home and go through financial literacy and home ownership courses once they are selected. Then they help build their house alongside Habitat employees and volunteers. There are more than 28,000 families in Wake County still in need, so your dollars go far at the Habitat Wake ReStores!
I moved to the Raleigh area about four years ago and have been to multiple Habitat ReStore locations on the hunt for gems. I’ve created many of my projects using re-purposed ReStore items, so I thought it would be a great opportunity to show others how to build something similar.
I wanted to recreate a coffee table from two different coffee tables I’d recently seen. The first was this Hammacher Schlemmer Analog Clocktail Table, which has a classic look with a great distressed top. It’ll run you $600. The second table that caught my eye was from the Restoration Hardware Salvaged Wood X-Base Collection. This farmhouse-style table would set you back $2600!
But! Since we are creative individuals, we will take characteristics from each table to create our own unique piece for far less money, and we can use reclaimed wood and materials, making it an environmentally -friendly project. I personally love this clock tabletop — clocks have a real sense of sophistication. I found oak wood flooring at the Wake Habitat location and managed to find pieces that didn’t have any adhesive or residue stuck to them.
The wood flooring was unfinished on the underside which is a score for us! There is no sense in sanding off the old oak finish when there is a perfectly good side just by flipping the planks over. Also the underside of the planks have an extra groove in them that will add character to our table top.
1. Decide on tabletop shape and size. I went with an octagon shape with each side measuring 11’’ and has 22.5 degree angles
2. Lay out your wood planks and connect them together on a flat surface.
3. Create a stencil. You can use cardboard or foamboard for this part. I found it much easier to use the “Octagon Calculator”. It gives the angles and measurements to create the perfect octagon.
4. Stencil your shape onto the planks. Draw your shape lightly in pencil on the surface of the wood planks. Or lay the stencil you made on your tabletop wood and trace around the edges of the stencil with a pencil.
5. Glue and cut! I glued all the planks together and let them dry before cutting them with a circular saw.
6. Sand underside. Since there is a gloss finish on the underside, we need to rough up the edges where we are gluing the under trim. You can use 120 grit sandpaper. This allows the wood glue to adhere to the surface.
7. Create under trim. Cut each piece to size at 45 degree angles and place them together, using wood glue to attach them to the planks then secure them with 1-1/4’’ brad nails. (I purchased a nail gun and it saves a lot of time and it very easy to use. It only cost $70 at Home Depot and is worth every penny.) Next add outer edge trim using the same method except for these edges you will be cutting at 22.5 degrees instead of 45 degrees. Since some edges may slightly be different lengths than other edges, it helps to measure and cut each trim piece as you go. This way you know for sure each trim piece fits. Also it helps to number each trim piece with each edge to keep everything in order.
8. Cut pedestal side pieces. Decide on the height you want your base pedestal to be. 12″ is what we are aiming for this table. It will give our total table height around 16″ to 17″. If you have a taller sofa you’ll want your coffee table to be around 21’’. You will need to cut out 2 pieces at 3-1/4’’ wide by 12’’ long, and 2 more pieces at 2’’ wide by 12’’ long.
9. Connect pedestal side pieces. Connect all 4 sides with wood glue and 1’1/4’’ brad nails (make sure when you’re attaching the pieces that the smaller pieces of 2’’ wide are sandwiched in between the other 2 larger sides).
10. Cut pedestal base and top pieces. Measure the inside length and width of the base and cut it out. Attach with wood glue, one of these small pieces to the underside center of the tabletop. I found the center of the tabletop and drilled a hole to mark the center. Reinforce with 1’’ brad nails through the top of the tabletop.
11. Construct pedestal floor base. Now we can construct the floor base part of the table, with that Restoration Hardware dining table in mind. Farmhouse tables are very popular right now and are a great style to complement reclaimed materials. Get a 2×4 that is at least 4’ long. The 2×4 we are using has holes, and old screw and some normal wear and tear from a previous project. This is ok because it adds charm to our table. Just make sure to take the any screws or nails out before you cut.
Cut it evenly in half so you have two pieces at 24’’ long. Lay down one of the 24’’ pieces onto your table. Take the other piece and cut it to size. To do this you will have to subtract the width of the 2×4. The dimensions of a 2×4 are really 1-1/2’’ x 3-1/2’’. (Keep this in mind with most lumber) subtract the width from the length of one 24’’ piece. Which would be 24’’ minus 3-1/2’’. Now you have your new length for the second piece to your floor base, which is 20-1/2’’. Next you can cut off exactly 3-1/2’’ of the second board. Then cut this new-sized board directly in half.
To get the angled look on the floor base, simply bevel cut each edge of the board at 22.5 degrees (or whatever angle you choose). Be careful not to cut off any length of the board. \
12. Attach floor base pieces. I love this Kreg Jig kit I got from Lowes a couple years ago to make pocket holes. It was only $30 and does the job well.
You will want to drill pocket holes into the 2 shorter pieces. I drilled 2 pocket holes into each smaller board. Add wood glue to the edges and connect them to the center point on your longer 2×4 board.
13. Add feet. I found some scrap wood about ½’’ thick to serve as feet — this helps the table stand more evenly and adds visual dimension. Cut four pieces at the same width as the 2×4 feet. Add wood glue and attach to the bottom of each foot with 1’’ brad nails. Since we are using nails to attach these you want to make sure that the nails are slightly recessed into the wood. This prevents the nail heads from scratching a nice floor or getting snagged on your carpet or rug. Use a Phillips screwdriver on the head of each nail and bang with a rubber mallet to push the nails in a little more.
14. Attach pedestal and floor base. Remember the two very small pieces of wood we had to cut out for the top and bottom of the base pedestal? The first one we attached to the underside center of the tabletop. Now we will attach the second piece to the center of our floor base using four wood screws. Pre-drill 4 holes for 1-1/2’’ wood screws.
Add wood glue to the bottom of the small piece and screw in your screws. Add the whole center support base.Use wood glue and 1-1/2’’ brad nails. Nail around the bottom edge.
15. Add diagonal supports. We need to cut out 4 pieces at 8.25’’ long and angle the edges at 45 degrees. Now we can attach them to the floor base and the base pedestal using wood glue and 1-1/4’’ brad nails. Sand the whole base with 120 grit sandpaper, then again with 220 grit sandpaper to prep the surface for paint and/or stain. Sandpaper is labeled by numbers. The lower the number the rougher it is. 120 grit is good to use first on normal wood. Use a finer grit such as 220 before you paint. If you are using an orbital sander make sure to take your time so you don’t get deep scratch marks. A good rule of thumb is to sand 1 inch per second.
Now you can fill in the edges and nail holes with wood filler. Always add a little more wood filler than you need because it does tend to shrink when it dries (even the stuff that claims it won’t). Once the wood filler has dried, go over the filled edges with sandpaper.
16. Paint and distress the table base. I used latex paint I found at the Habitat Wake ReStore (side note — you should check out their ReMix program if you’re in the market for paint). Paint the table base and don’t worry about painting it perfectly because we will be distressing it next.
Once the paint dries you can start the fun part of aging the table base. I used my Dremel tool with the 120 grit sander attachment to distress the edges of the base. I love this tool. You can use a Dremel tool for many different things. Sand the edges and corners of the table base. And don’t worry about being perfect because it’s supposed to look a little rugged.
17. Stain the tabletop. I couldn’t decide which shade to stain so I created stain samples on scrap wood flooring pieces. The floor planks are oak so they have a natural reddish tint to them. I decided to go with the gray stain. Its very important to know about the wood you’re working with. Oak is a slow-growing tree, which means the grains are tight. This also means that it will not soak up stain as well as other wood will such as pine. I applied a thicker layer of gray stain and let it sit for about 30 min. After 30 min I wiped off the remaining stain.
Whatever you do, do not let excessive stain dry on your wood. It will create future problems. Wipe off any stain that will come off. Now you want to let the stain dry completely.
18. Paint tabletop. After the stain has dried completely you can paint. Were going to use roman numeral numbers for the clock numbers. I used stencils I had on hand. Stain has an oil base so you want to make sure you use an oil-based paint like enamel. Arrange your numbers and trace them to ensure even spacing. Once you’ve positioned the stencils, use small pieces of tape to hold down them down while you paint over each number. Less is more when it come to stenciling – if you overload your brush, the paint will bleed under the stencil and make a smudgy mess. Not good. Use a foam brush and dabbing motions with your brush for best results. Remove the stencil and wipe off any excess paint on the front AND back of the stencil before reusing or else you will get wet paint onto random places on your tabletop.
19. Sand again! Once the paint has dried you can lightly sand with 220 grit over the numbers to give it a distressed look. I added another stencil painting in the center of the tabletop that has some natural curves, which help break up the sharp angles of the octagon. Once this has dried repeat the light sanding with 220 grit. Wipe off any paint dust with a damp rag.
20. Apply final stain. For the final table top, use a satin polyurethane (also oil-based). It is best to use a good quality natural bristle brush with oil bases. Brush on the polyurethane with long, even brush strokes. Overlap half of your previous brushstrokes when you start a new row. Do not be tempted to pick out any dust or small bugs that fall into your wet polyurethane. Unless you have tweezers on hand, just let it dry where it is. After it has dried for the recommended amount of time, lightly sand over the tabletop with 220 grit sandpaper. This is where you will sand off those pesky dust specs or the mosquito that landed on your wet finish. Wipe off tabletop with a damp rag and repeat steps for another coat of polyurethane. I did three coats total.
21. Attach tabletop to base. Last step! The light at the end of the tunnel is in sight and we are almost done! Add your wood glue and secure the tabletop to the base with 1-1/2 brad nails around the edge just like you did in Step 14.
We are done! Enjoy and show off to your friends your custom-made reclaimed wood coffee table.