Yesterday was a great day! I got my post written early and had enough time to finish up a little “upcycling” project that I had on the go. Repurposing and upcycling are two of my deepest passions, but unfortunately those projects can be time-consuming and as a working mom I don’t have the time or energy to do much of it during the school year. When summer arrives, creative projects are always at the top of my list. I absolutely thrive on thinking outside of the box and love trying to create something great out of a piece that might otherwise be deemed trash. In fact, if you were to walk through our home you would find that very few pieces were purchased new, directly from a retail store. Many were bought on Kijiji, at garage sales and few were even picked up from back lane “dumpster diving”. No, I am not too proud to say that…” trash to treasure projects” generally give me the greatest satisfaction. Such is the case with today’s project.
Upcycled End Tables: Step 1 ~ Spray Paint
Okay, first off, I can’t believe I didn’t take a before picture. I always do and in fact, was sure I had until I sat down to write this post. So sorry, but I will try to explain without the visual. I bought two metal end tables off of Kijiji. The lady was advertizing them @ two for $10, but when I got there she confessed that she had broken the glass top of one and in the end reduced the price down to $8 for both tables. (I actually was not going to use the glass for the project so it really didn’t matter to me except for the fact that it had a nice bevelled edge that could have been used for another project.) All in all it was a great purchase. In this photo, you can see the structure of the table (minus the glass top). At this point, I had already sprayed the metal legs with one coat flat black spray paint.
Now imagine the structure above, with speckled paint on it. The original colour was a little bit more greenish grey, but had speckles similar to the cap in the picture.
Upcycled End Tables: Step 2 ~ Sanding
Last summer, my neighbour spotted an old pallet by the BFI bin in the back lane. She helped me drag it home and it has been awaiting repurposing ever since. Finally, a use for it! I got out the belt sander and began to remove the layers of grime and graffiti.
As you can see, the pallet was in pretty rough shape. I decided to sand it while it was still nailed together. It seemed like a good idea, as the boards were stable and easier to sand. Once sanded, I took the circular saw and ran the saw along the edges of the top boards, just inside the rows of nails (and the 2 X 4’s below that were holding the top planks). Removing pallet nails is not an easy task, so I just basically cut off the rows of nails along both ends and down the middle, being careful not to cut into the plank below that they were nailed into. For the purpose of this project, the resulting planks would still be long enough to meet my needs.
Upcycled End Tables: Step 3 ~ Final Cuts of the Table Top Boards
The next thing I did was take my planks and stack them into two piles of 4. I would need 4 planks for each table top and wanted them to be cut to the same size. I placed each pile on the mitre saw, one at a time and made a fresh-cut along one end of the planks to ensure it was nice and straight. I then turned the stack and measured 20 1/2 inches from the fresh-cut end, ensuring that all of the planks were lined up perfectly. I cut them at the 20 1/2 inch mark, and with the 4 planks stacked firmly together, all 4 pieces were cut completely “square” and to the exact same length. I repeated this process with the other stack of 4 boards. Following that, I used the mouse sander to ensure that all of the boards had a smooth finish on the tops and all of the edges. I was not concerned with chips or gouges in the wood because I was going for a worn rustic look anyway.
Upcycled End Tables: Step 4 ~ Building the Frame and Top
I found some old 1 X 2’s int he basement from a previous project and used them to make a frame that would sit around the square top of the metal table. Think picture frame. I measured the outside edge of the black metal top at 17″ per side. The 17″ would become my inside cut on my mitred corners of my frame. I measured out 20″ lengths of 1 X 2’s and then proceeded to cut my boards with a 17″ inside frame length. Basically, my plan was to build a frame around the existing top and then nail my planks to the wooded frame that would sit snuggly along the outside of the square metal table base.
Once the frames were made, I nailed my planks to the tops. I set some really large bolts between each plank to ensure the spaces between the planks would be a consistent size.
You can see from the picture, that the frame was made out of scrap wood as well. This is the under side of the table tops. The frame on the bottom simply sits on top of the metal tables with the metal square on top of the base fitting snuggly inside the frame I built.
Upcycled End Tables: Step 5 ~ Staining the Table Tops
I found an old tin of stain that I have used for many previous projects and generously applied it to the tops, sides and between the planks of the table top. I love the way it looks so old and rustic. We gave it a quick coat of spray urethane and VOILA! Two new end tables for our front porch.
What I Love About Upcycling
In all honesty, it’s a bit of a rush for me. I picked up these tables for $8 ($4 each) and had all of the other materials on hand. The pallet was a dumpster dive treasure and so of course it was free. This project was no more than a few hours work and I would rate it as very easy. The best part is the finished product provides us with little tables that are literally one of a kind. When something turns out well, it gives me a true sense of accomplishment. One of my favourite bloggers is Becky from Beyond the Picket Fence. She is a mom and teacher like me, and best of all she has awesome ideas for DIY and upcycling projects. Check-out her blog and be inspired!
I come from very humble beginnings and learned at a young age how to stretch a dollar. I think that my ability to find a good deal, coupled with my knack for seeing potential in what others might deem trash, makes upcycling both fun and rewarding. Even when a project doesn’t quite go as well as I had hoped, my biggest loss is usually time not money, but because I enjoy the process, I take each failure in stride and try to learn something that can help me become more successful in future projects.
Check-out the mini slide show of the finished project!