We like playing board games as a family, and when we finished the basement we had an area for playing games (and I couldn’t afford to put in the bar 🙂 ). We used a simple IKEA table for a while but it was small, and dice bounced off the table, and every other excuse I could think of in my head after seeing these gorgeous gaming tables on line. These things were amazing, and cost an amazing US$3,000 and up. Uh… no. For that price, I can make one of those ! (I think. I mean, I haven’t really made furniture before …)
Key features I want:
soft playmat – to make it easier to pick up cards, quieter while rolling dice
recessed game play area – so you can cover up a game-in-progress and come back another day and not find a cat sprawled all over your game board. Also keeps dice and rolly-bits from escaping.
drink holders. ’nuff said about that.
big enough to hold the common entry-level games we were playing at the time (like Catan)
sliding drawers for players to hold their secret cards/components.
There were other cool ideas that I liked (LED lights, charging ports, flip compartments etc) but I was already thinking I was biting off more than I could chew.
I built some rough mock ups of the table to try out ideas. A key design consideration was using standard width boards so I didn’t have to rip long pieces of lumber.
Let’s get building …
If I was to do it again, I would:
use thicker boards for the table top leaves
add a “card holding rail” (aka thin slot) along the edge
USB power in the leg (I might still do that LOL)
maybe LED lights. I thought long and hard about this in the design phase, but I didn’t want them visible so that would mean lots of extra boards and loss of playing real-estate. Kinda kitchy too.
put table-top leaf holders under the table instead of the drawers. The drawers don’t really get used that much, so they weren’t really worth the effort. (might be because they are so well hidden)
Over the years the table has had a lot of good use, especially when the boys have friends over for games and MTG.
vertical blinds for the kitchen patio door are now yellowing and cracked, so
Andrea has replaced them with new sun blinds.
What to do about the valences ? I
should be able to make a few quick valences – easy ! (foreshadowing). What material to use? Hmm.. How about barn board !
If you go to the big
box stores there are a few “barn board” options that actually don’t
look too bad, but they are mostly for wall surfacing so when you cut them you
get bright pine. I need to build some boxes
so that won’t work. That and they are
fairly narrow and we want something wider.
Found a nice pile of actual barn board at our local specialty wood store, and Andrea helped pick out two long boards that she liked the look of. Took them home and ripped them down a few inches – nothing like cutting long boards on a table saw on a snow covered driveway (Andrea was a big help here). I also had to borrow the neighbours sliding miter saw to get the right lengths. Once cut to the right shape I had to reinforce them by gluing some hardboard on to the back of the long pieces. These boards are nice and old and weathered, but unfortunately there are not very structurally robust because they are, well, old and weathered.
Clamp, glue, and
bracket the corner bits. Unfortunately I
still have to weather/paint the cut edges, but not as much.
The first valence,
the big one – done and looks great
When doing the side window valences I think ahead to a new problem: they are going to be flatter against the wall – how do I attach them to the wall ? How am I going to get a screwdriver in there ? Oops.
trolling and google searching reveals nothing really exists, so I have to make
my own brackets that will slide over an inserted screw and hold them up. Drilling metal is so much fun.
In the end though it
all worked and it looks awesome !
We had this corporate giveaway phone charging station that you put your phones on and ran your charging cables through. But it also had these little mail slots and storage things that just always collected junk. It was ugly, and it was a mess. So when I saw this little beauty slice of kingswood at our local specialty wood shop I knew what I wanted to do.
Compared to the Lazy Susan project, this was pretty quick.
There is a specialty
wood store in Burlington that is always dangerous for me to walk into. There are so many cool slabs and chunks of
wood in there. The good thing is that for
the most part it is fairly pricey, which keeps me from really buying anything.
Once in a while,
however, I find something really nice that is fairly small and reasonable and
it ends up coming home with me.
This time I found
this small slab of plum, and it was just about the right size I was looking for
to make a kitchen turntable (lazy susan).
Many meals at our kitchen table end up being a “pass the …”
exercise, and the small turntable I found at Cdn Tire seemed like a good idea
but was a bit too small to hold much.
One of the trickiest
parts was positioning the circle that maximized the use of the cool bits, and
avoided some of the bad bits.
Next step was using epoxy to fill in the holes and gaps. I used tape and putty to block off any escape routes, and then poured in the epoxy. This is the first time I tried using this stuff and you don’t have a lot of time to work with it. At one point I was working a little too long with a batch (near the end, filling all sorts of little holes) and it got real hot !
While the epoxy was drying I took one of the pieces that I cut off and used it for testing the varathane. Looking promising !
once all dried i sanded the whole thing and added the protective coatings.
The verathane really helped make the colours pop – it looks great! I picked up the turntable hardware from Lee Valley and voila.
While wandering a furniture store for some end tables for the basement, I saw a neat looking shelf/buffet unit made of rustic wood and iron pipes … but it was $700! (and it was 50% off!) At this point I decided (a) this is the “look” I like, and (b) ain’t no way I am paying that – I should be able to make them myself. It’s just a bunch of piping and boards.
To make matters more interesting, I was looking at potential shelf boards at Lowes when I found that they were now selling live edge slabs of wood. Awesome – but they are not cheap and only a few look okay (I’m picky). I best be doing a test project first.
Test project – the stair table.
For the test project I am finally going to get rid of that janky drink holder that I slapped together during the basement reno years ago. The top couch is next to a step, so there was no place to put a table and no place to put your drink/popcorn. So I threw this ugly thing together that wedges under the couch:
So I assembled some bits and got the basic structure down. (yes – some trigonometry was involved to get the correct lengths!). For this table i will be using 1/2″ pipe and the associated 1/2″ connectors.
I am not going to use the live-edge wood for this, so I chopped off the end of a pine 2×12, drilled some holes for the pipes, and gave it a rustic staining…
I am going to suspend the wood from the pipes – this will give me a nice iron-pipe-railing to keep things from falling off the small surface, and also will save on pipe.
And putting it all together I am very pleased with the results. Much better than the previous thing. And since it has some weight to it, it is actually very stable.
A few comments on buying parts. I am not able to cut and thread raw pipe (nor do I want to) so I am at the mercy of the pre-threaded sizes available at Canadian Tire, Home Depot, Lowes, etc. (there is great selection at the plumbing stores, but as soon as they find out you are not a contractor they add an extra $50 – just cuz – or deny you service and say bad things about your mother.) Each hardware store had their own collection of size and lengths, so I had to calculate exactly what I needed and keep a list on me everywhere I went.
For some reason, the straight lengths of pipe are called ‘nipples’. Not sure why, but made for interesting interactions when you walk into Canadian Tire and ask “do you have a 5 inch nipple?”
Main end tables
Once I had assembled all the pieces, then came the big job of cleaning, de-greasing, and de-labelling them. To be fair, the people who make this stuff are expecting them to end up in a wall, not on furniture. I also had to wax and/or paint them afterwards otherwise they will rust (because I removed the protective grease).
Even though they sold boards with live edge on both sides, I had rather particular width requirements, and also there really wasn’t many pieces with good clean edging on both sides. So here I am gluing the two edges together (skipping over the Quest for finding the specific pocket screws they are pre-drilled for)
Assembling and painting the legs…
Quick test that everything is okay. Since I was in the cutting and staining mode I quickly made secondary shelves that fit between the legs. I probably won’t use them, but now is the time to make them easily.
We use an android tablet to run our TV etc, and keeping track of the power cord is always a pain. So for one of the tables I will have the power delivered right to the surface. (I have all this piping … it should be easy!)
I like the industrial pipe+wood look of the power station.
And here is the other end table. In the end I removed the lower shelf so you can see the piping, but I still have it on hand just in case.
The Leftovers Project
Okay, whenever I am doing a project with custom materials and there are bits leftover I am like …” I should be able to use these for something…”. (I hate throwing stuff away). This project is not different. I have left over wood and piping …. how about a little shelf unit to hold my craft beer sample glasses !