Wednesday, July 31, 2013

My First Build: Map Case Top


So--now that I've blogged about the bunk beds for the little girls, I thought I'd go back to the beginning.  The first piece of furniture I ever built: 

After having been introduced to Ana-White.com, the first thing I wanted to build was a dining table.  Knowing that I am prone to make mistakes and learn from them, we decided I would use the plans for a tabletop and make a top for this great old map case that we had picked up years ago at Savers for about $5 (which, conveniently lacked a top).

After excavating the map case from the garage, this is what we started with.  A dusty, half painted map case:
The map case with all the drawers stacked on top

The first step was selecting the correct wood.  This was simple, we had some old 2x6's from the underside of a piece of deck that we had torn down.  I had stacked them aside, knowing someday I wanted to do something with them (aged wood is just amazing).  Next, I procured a pocket hole jig to join the pieces together with.  After some web-based research, I bought the first Kreg Jig the guy at Home Depot showed me.

Working with pocket hole joinery is awesome!  I had a lot of fun piecing the top together.  I also made a few mistakes, just as predicted.  Nellie was very understanding, seeing as I did the majority of the construction on top of our existing kitchen table between the hours of 10 pm and midnight (gotta get it done when you can!)

Once I had the top put together, I added some breadboards on both sides to mimic the future kitchen table.  I was most surprised by how heavy it was!  For a top that measured about 48"x32" it weighed about a ton (give or take 1960 lbs).

My next tool to purchase was a belt sander.  I tried working with our little finish sander that we had and realized that it was going to take me more time than I had to do everything with that.  After some sanding to smooth the surface, it was time for some stain!

We used Minwax Classic Gray (which coincidentally is marked on the can as "NEW!"--pretty impressive, brand new but already a classic), and wiped it off pretty quickly then to warm it up we added a quick layer of Minwax Dark Walnut, wiped, and applied a few coats of lacquer when it was all dry.
Top is finished--still needs some painting and finishing up

It was Nellie's idea to paint the handles red and distress them a little, an idea I resisted at first, but ultimately really liked.  Life lesson learned yet again.  Most of what Janelle thinks would look awesome, does indeed look awesome.  I hope no one tries to take that logic a step further, it would be a mistake.


After finishing up the case, the biggest dilemma was what to do with it.  It was a little tall to use as a coffee table (our original thought), so we promptly rearranged the whole front room.  It's not for everyone, but we love it.  I look at it and see how I might do it differently if we did it again, but it's got great character, and I love it.  

The finishing touch was a great set of casters that my mom found for us.  They had originally been on something which had been spray painted red and there was overspray on them.  We were not sad--think it was a fit.  
If I had it to do over again:  I would have tried to get my boards closer together, there are some gaps that are a bit larger than I would have liked--they're still charming.  

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