Wednesday, January 30, 2013

From Recycled Twin Bed.....To Sweet Little Bench in Shades of White

If you know me or have followed me at all, you know that I'm more "shabby" than "chic" and although I can appreciate the look of pretty cottage whites it's not something you see and say, "Oh, that looks like something Sherri did"!  Since I like to challenge myself, when I saw this little twin bed I decided it wanted to be shades of white.  It didn't hurt that I was mentally multi-tasking.  My niece is getting married and I'm in charge of "wedding decor".  With this in mind, and the fact that my niece is this tiny little thing and will be nesting a new home, I decide she would probably love this little bench with an upholstered seat and lots of vintage lace and cushy pillow; and who knows, if it doesn't sell, it could make a nice house-warming gift.  So, join me on this journey as I recycle a twin bed frame with my mind on a wedding!

Step 1:  Pull the old 70's maple twin bed out of storage, dust it off and cut the footboard exactly in half.

Step 2:  Sand everything.  It's easier to do it at this point than wait until the whole thing is assembled.  (No photo, but let's face's a sanded bed...not that interesting).

Step 3:  Figure out where the sides will attach to the back and pre drill holes.  Okay, so I didn't get the best pictures of step three.  My brain was a little busy trying to figure out where exactly the footboard halves (my bench sides) were going to attach to the headboard (my bench back).  And then there's the table centerpieces for the wedding.  My niece likes vintage, shabby chic, eclectic, bird cages, nests, vintage stuff, lace, no flowers, and she doesn't really want them to match.  No worries, I've been collecting "stuff" for years knowing that it will come in handing one day; thank God!

Okay, back to the bench.  Here was my approach/thought process:  Keeping in mind that an average seat height is 18", I laid out the sides against the back to see where I might be able to make an attachment.  I made pencil marks where I would pre drill my "Kreg Jig" holes.  Then I trimmed the legs to where my seat would actually be about 18" high.

For more information about one of my favorite tools, the Kreg Jig, please refer to my post "I Built My First Piece Of New Furniture".  Here you'll see exactly how it works.

Step 4:  Attach the sides to the back of the bench.  First, I measure and draw a line on both legs of the back of the bench where the sides will attach.

Next, apply a little bit of wood glue to the edge of the side piece where it will attach to the back.  Then, I like to make a jig from two pieces of scrap wood.  One wider piece sits up against the side of the back leg.  The second smaller piece sits on top of the back leg just inside of the first scrap.  This will give me an offset where the side attaches to the back.  I'll use the same jig for the other side and that way my sides will be attached at the same place without having to use a tape measure.  I know this sounds complicated, so here's a closeup that might make more sense.

The square piece is the back leg, the piece on the far right is clamped to the outside of the leg, and the smaller piece sits on top of the leg and is clamped to the first piece.  That third piece of wood (light color) sticking up behind the clamp is the side that will attach to the back leg.  It's clamped to my scrap wood jig.

Once everything is clamped into place, I simply screw into my predrilled holes.

Makes sure to check all sides of the joint and wipe away any excess glue with a damp less thing to sand away later.

Living in an imperfect world, as we all do, #@&*$ happens.

When I attached the screw from the other side, a bit of my turned leg popped off.

This is not the end of the world.  Boo boos like this are pretty easy to fix.

A little wood glue and pressure with a craft stick (or recycled popsicle stick) puts the piece back in place.

A little blue painter's tape will hold it in place while it dries over night, or at least for a few hours.

Just make sure to leave this screw out while the little piece dries in place.  Tomorrow, I should be able to screw this back in with no problem, "knock on wood".

Step 5:  Patching and filling.  Being the perfectionist that I am, the unattractive gap between the turned leg and the flat piece of the side will not do!  That's a pretty big gap to fill.  This gives me a deja vu moment from our remodeling years--"nothing a gallon of caulk can't fill."  Sad, but true.  We have just finished my workshop remodel and, yes, I was in charge of all the caulking.  I remembered I still had a tube in the gun.  (Here's a tip:  when you have an unfinished tube of caulk, just back off the pressure and stick a nail in the open end of the tube to serve as a cap.)

You'll have to do this in several layers that need to dry overnight.  Add a little, smooth it out, let it dry; repeat.

Since I have to wait for this caulk to dry anyway, I decide to start patching and filling other holes that might show in my finished bench.

They make these little wood plugs for the holes made by a Kreg Jig.  I decide to use a couple in spots that might show.  You simply glue them in.  They do sit a little proud of the hole so you just sand them down until smooth.

For the lower holes that aren't going to show, I decided to see how the caulk would work for future reference.  I just squirt a little in the hole and then use the craft stick to sweep away the excess.  A putty knife would work as well, but why get that dirty when I have a craft stick handy from my earlier repair and I can just throw it away (oops! did I just say that!!!!)

Step 6:  While the caulk is drying, I decide to move forward.  Since I have the sides attached to the back, I now have my exact measurements and can make the frame for the seat.  I've used some scrap wood that I had in the shop.  I've measured, cut, glued and screwed the pieces together and to the back and sides.

Step 7:  I've decided that I want to upholster the seat of this bench rather than do a wood seat because I envision it being used indoors rather than out.  With this in mind, a cheap plywood would be my preferred choice, but I decide that rather than make a trip to the store, I'm going to use whatever I have in the shop.  This happens to be a "nice" piece of oak plywood left over from a previous project.

When working alone, I like to use horses and clamps to attach the plywood to the horses both at the point where my finished piece sits, and the fall-off piece sits.  That way, I don't have to worry about everything tumbling into a bad accident.

Using a very large "square" tool, I draw the seat on the plywood, make a cut, and move the clamps and horses accordingly.

Okay, so I forgot to take a picture but once the seat is cut, I used a jigsaw to cut the notches where the seat wraps around the legs.

Back to Step 5:  Now that the layers of caulk have "almost" filled in the gap...

...I decided to use wood filler for the remainder of the patch so that I can sand the fill to a nice smooth finish.

I know it looks pretty ugly when you're apply wood filler.  You're worried you made a mess of this project you've already worked so hard on.  But that's the beauty of wood filler versus caulk; caulk is like plastic and you can't sand it, but wood filler is easily sand-able and blend-able.

And now we can FINALLY move on to Step...what is it now...8?

Step 8:  Paint.  Through all that messy work, my mind is still on the wedding and I'm determined to challenge myself and do shades of white.

I grab the milk paint chart and decide to start with the buttermilk (far left yellow undertone), add a little oyster white (far right blue undertone)...and then see where it goes...

I love doing "antiqued" finishes because you can be sloppy and not really worry too much about coverage.

My handy little blow dryer speeds up the process and I decide to move on to a little crackling using Old Fashioned Milk Paint's Antique Crackle product.  Since I only want a little crackle here and there, I don't even bother dirtying a brush, I just use a paper shop towel and wipe it on where I want the crackle.

For my last paint coat, I've decided to use light cream (second from the left on the chart).  I also want to illustrate what happens when you don't mix milk paint to a silky smooth texture.

Note:  If this is your first visit to my blog, you might want to refer to previous posts for more information about working with milk paint.  Check out How To Build A Bench With A Barn Red Finish for another look at Old Fashioned Milk Paint products being used.

Milk paint comes in powder form that must be mixed with water.  Warm water works best because it helps the powder to dissolve.  I use an old plastic bowl and wire whisk.  It's sort of like mixing pancake batter.  If you don't mix it well enough there will be little clumps and the texture will be gritty.

One of the things I like about rustic distressed finishes is that they are very forgiving and there are many ways to achieve them.  That's also one of the things I like about milk paint, you can control the texture of the paint which will allow you to give your project more distressing and opportunity for character in the paint finish.

Step 9:  Finish Sand. Just use a fine sanding sponge over the whole bench after the last coat of paint and it will smooth out the finish and reveal some of the under-coats of paint.  I even like to sand all the way through to the wood on the edges and places that would naturally have more wear and tear.  Note:  It's important to use a very fine sandpaper or sanding sponge for the final sanding.   If you are going to use a darker antiquing for the final sealing process, every blemish will be highlighted including any marks left by sanding.

Step 10:  Final Sealing.  For those of you who love white, you could stop here and just seal the whole bench with Milk Paint's Clear Coat which will give you a permanent durable finish but will require drying time.   Or, you could use a paste wax like Fiddes Supreme in Light (which is actually clear), for a natural looking finish that is fast and doesn't require the drying time but may need to be re-applied in the future.  You know, I just can't help myself.  I'm struggling here because I love all the texture, crackling, and layers of paint and know that if I wax the bench with Fiddes Supreme in Rugger, all the character will be highlighted even more.  So, I decide to test a spot on the back of the bench.

I decide I like the "antiqued" look, big surprise!  It's a matter of preferring an ivory wedding dress to a stark white wedding dress.  I'm thinking of making an under-skirt for the bench out of an old lace tablecloth; sort of like how a bedskirt would look.

Step 11:  Upholstery.    I chose a soft natural twill to upholster the seat.  Check out my post, Upholstery 101, for detailed instructions on this type of upholstery job.

Well, at the end of the day, I kept the bench simple and decided not to add a lace skirt.

I was also a little concerned about having a bench with a white seat in the store.  I  picture little kids climbing all over it and getting the seat dirty before it has sold.

Step 12:  Accessorize.  Being the fabric junky that I am, I dug through my shelves of fabric and found some pretty reds that looked great with the antiqued white finish on the bench so I made a loose seat pad to protect the seat and a couple of pillows.

Now this looks like something you'd see and say, "That looks like something Sherri made!"   A pop of color and it has it's own individual personality.

Funny thing is, when I posted this photo on my Facebook page, the first comment was from my niece saying, "I love this!"  She had no idea I was thinking of her the entire time I was working on it.

Unfortunately for her, this cutie sold in one day; except for the pillows which are still available.  Guess I'll just have to build another bench for my could happen...

As for the wedding plans, while digging through all my old lace  to see if anything would work for the bench, I found this wide vintage lace and started building centerpieces in my head.

I knew I had some sweet vintage trinkets and small vintage books that would be pretty on a tray.  Then, I remembered this amazing photo my husband took for me while he was mowing the field.  He had come across  a quail's nest in the tall grass and when he uncovered it, the eggs were nested in the shape of a heart!  He came inside and grabbed his camera to take this photo for me; like I've said before, he's a treasure.  I keep the 8x10 color photo displayed with my nest collection so I just scanned it, shrunk it, and printed it in black and white.  I smudged the photo on a sepia ink stamp pad which gave it an "old photo" look and even warped the photo paper a bit to give it an authentic old look.  I used an antique gold leaf pen on the edges to make it pretty and I like the black photo corners so I'm thinking of sticking them to a slightly larger piece of card stock so that it looks like a mounted photo.
The whole thing sits on a wreath called a "nest wreath".  My niece loved this sample centerpiece so we're off and running with it.  One down, 17 more to go....

Monday, January 21, 2013

This Junker's Struck GOLD!!!

After too many frosty days in Paso.....I know, I know, it's nothing compared to places where it snows but when it's in the 20's outside it's in the 30's in my workshop and no fun at all!  So, I decided to hightail it to the desert for some sunshine and warm weather!  I might not have a workshop there, but I can go junkin'...

I'm a walker....I'm not a big fan of exercising in a gym; but I love to walk and hike and work in the workshop for exercise.  Yesterday morning, I asked my husband if he wanted to go for a hike in The Cove with me.  I love hiking The Cove.  It's only a five minute drive from the house and there are lots of great trails.  You see, once upon a time, the Coachella Valley used to be under water...that's why they call this area The Cove.

It's such a strange and unique landscape.  I wish I would have taken more pictures!  There's this one spot with these HUGE rocks over a very large area.  To the right (outside the photo) is what looks like a ginormous empty pond and then a spot where water can be released.  My husband says they have these all over the valley to control the runoff during flash floods.  I can't imagine that since the average annual rainfall here is about an inch.  But I guess it can happen.  We do get snow on the mountains around us and I guess when it rains, these mountains are so rocky the water just runs off instead of absorbing into the ground.  I bet there are a lot of snakes and lizards living in this field of rocks!

So, for those of you who don't know my husband....he's like a curious little boy.  I just love that about him....most of the time!  For today's hike, he wanted to explore this one mountain to see if there was a path that we could climb to the top.  Once we got around the back side, there were several large dens scattered all over.

Being the cautious one, I let him go ahead and check it out...  After all, I've been to The Living Desert (a great local zoo) and I am aware that this is NOT the zoo, this is the wilderness desert, and we do have mountain lions, coyotes, and all sorts of wild animals so I'm thinking one might be sleeping in that den and decide to stay down here where it's safe and take a picture....just in case.

After walking for a half hour or so, we decide to cut over to the wash.  I like walking in the wash because it's great exercise for your legs.  It's like walking in very coarse deep sand with rocks scattered around...much harder than walking on a path.  Too bad I didn't get a picture of the time.

That's when I spotted it!

....junker's gold!

Okay, confession....this isn't exactly where I found it...but I was sooooo excited and shocked that my husband was actually willing to haul it out of here and home that I forgot to take a picture!  Seriously, you have to know my husband...he's NOT a junker and has never been excited about me bringing more junk home.  But he truly loves me and just wants to see me happy.  So...when I was sincerely excited to see this bedsprings lying there, not so much rusted as perfectly baked by the desert sun, and I blurted out that this was like gold in my industry....he said, "well if it's like gold...and we'd probably be doing a good thing hauling it out of here."  Who knows how long it had been there.  Where we found it in the wash, the wood frame was still laying charred on the ground in a rectangular shape but almost totally disintegrated.  Not a thread of fabric in sight and bits of scrub brush where the bush had just grown up through the springs.

We pulled it out of the brush and my husband decided this would be a nice little upper body workout hauling it out of here...

How lucky am I!  I know I told my husband that the bedsprings were like gold....but he's the real treasure!


As we were hiking back out with the bedsprings, I was blogging in my head and realized I still have to get this thing back to Paso, I'm not in my truck, and I do have other things to take back with me....where there's a will, there's a way.

To get it home, we had to fold it in half since the FJ isn't quite long enough.  Now, I'll just have to take it apart to get it back to Paso.  A pair of needle-nose pliers should be all I need and I know we have a pair in the garage.

Just look at that patina!  Not really rusty; nothing rubs off.  But perfectly baked to a rich warm bronze color.  I can't wait to get back to my workshop and see what I can create.  I'll have a six hour drive to think about it....stay tuned.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

An Update to The Post "You Get What You Pay For: Made in China...Re-Made in the USA"

So, what happened to the second little stool?  Well, I decided to try out a different finish....if you've already read this post, just jump to the end...

Who doesn't love a bargain?  We get a little excited when we shop discount stores and find what seems like a good deal; until we get it home and find out it doesn't perform under normal use.  There's a reason it was inexpensive; it was cheaply made.  Cheap, yes; a bargain, not so much.  It is true, you get what you pay for.  The good news is that we don't have to throw it out.  With the right tools and a little patience, we can re-make these items into functional pieces that we can enjoy for years to come.

A friend found this pair of little stools at a yard sale and brought them to me thinking I could do something with them.  

I don't always have a plan when I begin a project.  I usually just start dismantling and let the process evolve depending on what I uncover.  I started by removing the seats.  

I use my Craftman staple puller and a pair of needle nose pliers to remove all the staples.  I like to start with a clean slate so I always remove all the old fabric.  This way, not only do I eliminate any lingering soil and/or odor associated with the old fabric, I can check the condition of the foam and replace it with new foam and/or add Dacron.  In this case, the stools weren't old so the foam was in perfect condition.

These stools were a little rickety so if they were to remain stools, I needed to find out how they were made and see why they weren't sturdy so I could fix them.

The tag on the bottom of the seat said Made in China.  This was my first clue that they were probably slapped together as cheaply as possible.  What I found was that they were assembled with finish nails and there was not a screw in sight. If you've followed my blog at all, you know how I feel about using finish nails for structural purposes.  If you need something to be sturdy and last, glue and screws are the way to go.  

Unfortunately, the only way to really get this stool sturdied up is to take it apart and remove all the nails so I can drill holes, glue, and screw.  The good news is that it makes the project much easier to sand.  Once all the parts are sanded, it's time to pre-drill all the holes.

Using a special drill bit, I've drilled counter-sunk holes so that my screws will be flush for a cleaner looking project.

Once all the holes are drilled, I put together all the tools and fasteners I will need to re-assemble the stool.  My worktable is an old redwood table and it's important to have a nice flat surface so I use a nice large recycled piece from a melamine cabinet.  I also need a good wood glue, screws, clamps, and a finish nail gun that I will use to assemble the corners of the frame.  The nails will hold everything together while I screw the legs to the frame and corner supports.

I love buying new tools....and I finally get to use this corner clamp which will give me  perfectly square corners.  Once the two pieces are glued and clamped into place, I add a couple of finish nails and continue with all four corners until I have my stool frame.

I've glued and screwed the legs to the frame, then glued and screwed the corner brace to the frame.  I also added a screw to the center of the brace that goes into the leg.  This will add additional strength.  

Once you've put the leg on one corner, the drill won't fit to screw the legs into the other corners.  Fortunately, I had this ratcheting wrench fitted with a phillips bit to attach the remaining three legs.

After the stool was reassembled, I chose to paint the base with Old Fashioned Milk Paint.  I decided on this really pretty blue green called Sea Green.  I added their product, called Extra Bond, to the paint which basically turns the paint into a paint and primer.  
I wanted to add a second coat to a few thin spots so I pulled out my hair dryer to speed up the process.

Happy Accident!.....As the paint was drying, I noticed some natural crackling and spots where the paint was already peeling...possibly where the sanding wasn't down to the bare wood.  

I love, love, love how this looks so natural!  I know I need to finish it but I don't want to mess up this look.

Milk paint is inherently chalky and has bit of a rough gritty finish.  I decided to use a very fine sanding sponge over the whole thing to smooth out the finish.

The result was a nice smooth finish with even a little sheen here and there.  

Although I love the color, I am torn between using a clear sealer, clear paste wax, or my Rugger Brown paste wax which will change the color a bit but enhance the character.

I decided to do a test patch on the underside of the stool using the Rugger Brown.  After brushing on a bit of wax...

...I wiped it off immediately and decided it was subtle enough and only improved the finish.  Yeah!

Once, I had waxed and wiped the entire stool, I did a quick buff with a pine buffing brush and....

...Tah Dah!!!!   Gorgeous!!!!

After recovering the seat in burlap, this little stool was ready for display in the shop.  

It won't last the shop that is....

I don't know what it was sold for the first time, but now it is definitely worth the $39.95 price tag I have on it!

After taking the second stool apart, sanding, and rebuilding just like I did with the first one, I decided to do a quick finish using red spray paint.  This works great when you want a REALLY distressed look with just a hint of paint.

Sand the pieces leaving some of the stain so that there is a nice balance of light and dark.  Then, just spray paint the whole thing in whatever color you like.  For this project, I used a fire engine red.

Next, I went over the whole thing with my favorite Rugger Brown Fiddes Supreme Wax.  Because this wax has a solvent in it, it actually removes most of the spray paint leaving me with a mostly waxed piece with just a hint of color.

As you can see in the closeup, the spray paint gets very smeary and a bit sticky.  I would suggest wiping off what you want and then let the wax dry.  Even though it is sticky and slippery at this point, once it's dry, you can buff it as usual.

After the piece was finished, I simply recovered the top in burlap and took it down to the store....

Well, wouldn't you know...I forgot to take an "after" picture and it sold right away.  Guess it was a hit and I'll have to try it again!