May 27, 2016

DIY: Children's Craft Table with Paper Roll


Our favourite little girl turned 3 this year, so naturally - being the DIYers we are - we had to build something for her birthday. We had already built this bookcase/toybox for her first birthday...but then ran out of time last year and had to go the Dora/store-bought route for her second.

Now it's back to the workshop this year to build a pint-sized craft table with attached paper roll.

Pint-Sized Craft Table

I first saw a children's craft table for sale online months ago and told Tom, "We should build that!" Of course he agreed - happy wife, happy life. Once we got around to planning it though it took us a week of brainstorming and many, MANY changes before we came up with a design we liked. We even took a trip to Ikea in an ice storm to look at their tables and to pick up rolls of paper - it's the only place we could find 18" rolls that weren't 1000 feet long.

We kept our table as simple as possible - clean lines, light-coloured wood, clear lacquer.

Pint-Sized Craft Table

Here is a materials list if you're looking to build one of your own:

Top: 20"x 36"x 3/4" shelving

Apron:
3 - 17½"x 1½"x 3/4"
2 - 35¼"x 1½"x 3/4"

Legs: 4 - 19½"x 1½"x 1½"

Tray:
2 - 201/3"x 1½"
2 - 5½"x 1½"x 3/8"
1 - 45/8"x 1½"x 3/8"
1 - 201/3"x 5½"x 3/8" plywood
1 - 18¾"x 21/3"x 3/8" spacer board

Tray/Paper Roll Supports: 2 - 12½"x 21/3"x 3/8"

Miscellaneous:
1 - 21" dowel
5 - ¾" magnets
2 - 1½" wooden knobs
2 - eyelet screws
3 - small metal buckets for drawing supplies (dollar store)
wood screws
finishing nails
wood glue
wood putty
sandpaper
polyurethane
brushes, etc.
paper roll
stool or chair

Tools we used (affiliate links):

Planer
Miter Saw
Table Saw
Clamps
Cordless Drill
3/4" hole saw drill bit


Since we used a full 20"x 36" shelving board for the table top, there was nothing extra to do to it besides sand it smooth - especially the edges and corners. We didn't want any unnecessary injuries happening (to us or the birthday girl).

We weren't able to find 2x2 select pine boards for the legs the day we went material shopping, so we bought a 2x4 and planed it down to size. In retrospect it might have been easier to buy 2x2 knotty pine since the grade ends up being about the same, but at least by planing the wood we knew our table legs were completely straight.

Pint-Sized Craft Table

To beef up the table profile a bit and to give the legs stability, we added a 1"x 2" apron all around the outside. The apron is inset about 3/8 of an inch from the edge of the table. We joined the pieces with simple butt joints rather than mitering them, using wood glue and countersunk screws. I like the simpler look and the joint is stronger - but if the mitered joint strikes your fancy then go for it! The apron frame was then attached to the tabletop with more countersunk screws, down through the top of the table.

Pint-Sized Craft Table

Pint-Sized Craft Table


The legs were attached to the apron in each corner with two (countersunk) screws. Since the paper roll hangs below the table, the legs at that end had to be inset from the edge by about four inches. To secure these legs we added another apron piece across the underside of the tabletop, parallel to the end piece. The legs were then attached to this inner board.

Pint-Sized Craft Table

Pint-Sized Craft Table

Pint-Sized Craft Table


There was a lot of discussion around how we were going to attach the tray and the paper roll to the table. We decided to cut a notch into each side of the table that the uprights would fit into so that we could secure it to the apron and the side of the tabletop. There are several things to consider here - How low do you want the paper roll to hang? How far do you want the roll indented from the end of the table? How high do you want the tray to be above the table? How wide do you want the supports to be?

Once you know how far in you want the roll to be and how wide the supports are, you can cut the notches into the table the same width as your support pieces. Our support pieces are 3/8" thick so that they fit snug against the apron and stay flush with the outside edge of the table.

Fun fact: the supports (and tray sides) are made from leftover boards from our board and batten project at the old house. Nothing goes to waste here!

Pint-Sized Craft Table

Pint-Sized Craft Table

Before cutting the supports to length we put them in place and merely slid them up and down until we arrived at a distance above and below the table that was pleasing to the eye. We drew a faint line on each support where it met the top of the table and measured/marked each for the top and bottom cuts.

Before attaching the supports to the table you'll want to drill a hole in each for the paper roll dowel to sit in. This hole should be at least twice as big as the dowel so that it is easy to take in and out when replacing the paper.

Pint-Sized Craft Table

The supports can then be attached to the table. We used a couple of finishing nails just to hold them and then countersunk screws to secure them well.

The tray is made of thin lengths of wood planed down to size, with a piece of plywood for the bottom. A groove was cut along tray edge, 3/8" from the bottom. This groove is the same thickness as the tray bottom.

Once assembled, the tray bottom slides into the groove and stays locked in place. We built the tray this way so that there was a lip underneath the tray bottom to attach the upright supports to. Otherwise the uprights would have to be on the outside of the tray (not as pretty), or attached directly to the bottom (not as stable).


The sides of the tray are joined at a 45 degree angle (miter joint) so it didn't matter that the groove went all the way across, but if you are using butt joints you'll want the groove to stop just before the end so it doesn't show on the outside. You'll likely want to practice on some scraps first as that can be tricky.

Taking three of the tray sides, we made sure the groove was lined up all the way around, then glued and nailed them together with finishing nails. The tray bottom then slides into place and the fourth side is attached. We designed it so that the tray would hold three metal pails for markers, paintbrushes, etc. and have a separate section for loose crayons, erasers, and whatnot. To make the separate section we added a divider across the width of the tray, again securing it with glue and finishing nails.

Pint-Sized Craft Table

One other piece of wood you'll need I have no idea what to call. It is a spacer piece that runs under the tray to give it stability on the bottom and to keep the upright supports in place. This piece of wood will be the same thickness as the lip under the tray bottom (so that it sits flush when in place) and is the length of the visible tray bottom minus the thickness of the upright supports. The supports will end up being sandwiched between the edge of the tray and this new spacer piece, keeping them from wobbling around.

Here is a shot of the spacer board in place (the table is upside down):

Pint-Sized Craft Table

Attaching the tray to the supports required the two of us working together (!!!) One person pressed in slightly on the supports while the other fit the tray on top. Then after applying wood glue to the horizontal spacer it was pressed up into place under the tray. Using the glue gives you time to make adjustments and align everything perfectly before it sets. Once all of the pieces were in place we clamped the tray in several spots to keep the spacer board tight against the bottom. Finishing nails secured the supports to the tray.

Pint-Sized Craft Table

We spent some time brainstorming a way to keep the paper flat when it was across the table. A flip-down arm would be cool, but we were afraid it would eventually get broken. And a stationary arm would mean that the paper had to be fed through each time - not so easy for little hands. We came up with the idea of magnets inset into the table and knobs with metal washers attached that the paper could then be pressed between.

Insetting the magnets is very easy. You'll need a drill bit that is the same diameter as your magnet - ours are 3/4". Mark the spot where you want each magnet to be and drill into the table slightly more than the depth of your magnet. You'll want the well slightly deeper so that there is space for the glue to expand without lifting your magnet above the table surface. Apply glue to the well and drop your magnet in, making sure it's flush. As extra insurance you could clamp the magnet into place so that it can't move while drying.

Pint-Sized Craft Table

Pint-Sized Craft Table


The final step was to apply polyurethane to the entire table. Or you could leave yours plain, paint it, stain it...whatever strikes your fancy. I did several coats of semi-gloss transparent polyurethane (Minwax), sanding lightly between coats. Before the final coat I gave the table top a good scrub with super fine steel wool to make it really smooth.

The knobs are simple drawer pulls with washers glued to the bottoms of them. We attached two eyelet screws to the inside of the table apron, lining them up with the magnets, and then tied the knobs to the screws with lengths of bright orange ribbon. Now the knobs can be removed, but since they are still attached to the table they're less likely to be misplaced.

Pint-Sized Craft Table

Pint-Sized Craft Table

Pint-Sized Craft Table

We also glued three magnets onto the tray to help keep the metal buckets in place. The buckets can still be removed, but the magnets stop them from being knocked over easily.

Pint-Sized Craft Table

Pint-Sized Craft Table

We bought a cute little wooden stool at Ikea to go with the table. It has metal mounting brackets where the legs join the seat - so sturdy! - there is no way we could have built one for the same price.

Pint-Sized Craft Table


The dowel for the paper roll is also from Ikea. We had originally purchased the whole paper holder with the intention of incorporating it into the table, but found that you can't mount it upside down without the paper falling out. We did like the dowel it came with though as it has small grooves at each end to keep it in place on the holder. So yeah, we ended up with a $10 dowel.

Pint-Sized Craft Table

The finishing touches were some new crayons and markers - and a special message to the birthday girl. I'm pretty sure she likes it - though when we gave it to her she was more interested in playing the shell game with the buckets and a spare knob than drawing on the paper. No problem, it's all about using your imagination. :-)

Pint-Sized Craft Table

Pint-Sized Craft Table



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Pint-Sized Craft Table

Pint-Sized Craft Table

Pint-Sized Craft Table

Pint-Sized Craft Table






Apr 19, 2016

Give an Old Dresser a Facelift (Cerusing Makeover)

A long time ago in a town far, far away - okay, only about 30 minutes away, but go with it - I showed you a dresser that I was refinishing. Well, break out the banners and confetti because it is finally finished!

Dresser Makeover - Cerusing

My uncle is known to store items for friends and family members who don't have room for them at the time. Often these things end up being forgotten. Last year he came across a dresser that had been there for years and years. As he knows my love for furniture refinishing (who doesn't?), he asked if I would want it. Why yes, I would! I'd been looking for a horizontal chest of drawers to replace the highboy that I wasn't happy with anymore, but was having a heck of a time finding something I liked.

Dresser Makeover - Cerusing

Enter the 1980s dresser. Is it really from the '80s? I have no idea. I do know it has the word "Scandinavian" stamped on the back. And the drawer capacity stamped inside. 'Cause I measure my clothes in cubic inches, don't you?

Dresser Makeover - Cerusing

While I loved the layout of the dresser and the fact that it was solid wood from top to bottom, it sure wasn't stylish.

What had to go:
- the base went right to the floor with a scalloped edge at the front - just big enough to let dust and dog fur in but not big enough to clean under.
- the wooden handles just screamed teenage boy's bedroom to me.
- the colour was u-g-l-y. And the finish was all scratched up anyway so it would have to be redone regardless of how I felt about it.

So I dug in and and started dismantling the beast. First I removed all of the drawer handles. I don't know if I'll ever use them but I held on to them anyway. I'm a bit of a hoarder when it comes to scrap wood.

The decorative piece at the bottom is really just a board attached to the front of the dresser. I wanted the dresser to have a flush front, so I had Tom remove the front scalloped piece and shorten the sides of the dresser so that they were only about 2 inches longer than the front. I then had him add a new facing piece on the front bottom of the dresser that was flush with the frame, went straight across (no swirls), and lined up square with the sides.

The bottom of the dresser didn't actually have a "bottom" so he added a 1/2 inch thick piece of plywood below the drawers (but hidden by the edging) to give it more stability.

While this was going on I was stripping off all of the old stain from the drawers and the dresser body. I believe the stain was sprayed on in a single coat because it came off really easily.

I puttied all of the drawer handle holes and glued/clamped/filled any cracks in the body where boards had separated over time. I also puttied along the edge where that new facing board joined the old wood so that once it was stained it would look like one solid piece.

I was left with this gorgeous creature.

Dresser Makeover - Cerusing

Sadly, I am short of photos of the repairs as my laptop hard drive crashed about a month ago and I'll admit I haven't back it up in quite a while. I know, I know, please don't say it. I'm still hoping to get it repaired for a reasonable price, but bought a new one in the meantime. I've had the old one for nearly seven years so it was probably time for an upgrade anyway.

Okay, pouting done, back to the dresser.

The next question on my mind: what colour to paint or stain it? The dresser was going to go in the master bedroom where we already have the cerused nightstands, so I wanted it to coordinate with those. But I wasn't planning on painting the bedroom the same grey this time, so I also didn't want the dresser to be quite as grey as the nightstands. (Those nightstands might end up needing a makeover down the road.)

I've always been told to use wood conditioner before staining but never have before. I'm such a rebel. This time I gave it a try. And promptly gave it two thumbs down. The conditioner turned the wood a piney-yellow colour instead of the pure whitish shade of fresh wood.

Dresser Makeover - Cerusing

Then when I started to apply the stain (my favourite Jacobean shade by Minwax), it beaded up and would barely stick. And that darned yellow showed through, too. But I persevered and applied thin layers of stain alternating with layers of watered down grey paint (the paint we used on the basement floor, actually!)

Dresser Makeover - Cerusing

Dresser Makeover - Cerusing

Explaining my exact technique is always difficult. There is no real recipe - it's just trial and error until I get the colour/texture/pattern that I'm looking for. The epoxy paint is fast-drying so I would wipe off certain areas almost immediately, using an old washcloth and trying to imitate a wood-grain look. If the colour got too light I would then wipe on some more stain to tone it down. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Dresser Makeover - Cerusing

It's a modified cerusing method that I've mentioned previously - but without the scrubbing with a wire brush this time. If you'd like more details on cerusing wood go here and here to see the step-by-step process.

Once the colour was where I wanted it to be I applied two coats of furniture wax (Minwax paste finishing wax), buffing in between coats. The final step is to give it a once-over with extra fine steel wool. This makes the surface silky smooth. Make sure you don't scrub too hard and remove all of your hard work!

Dresser Makeover - Cerusing

A couple of the drawers were sticking so I took a spare wax tea light and waxed the wooden runners and the bottom edges of the drawers. We also had to shim a few of them at the back as they didn't line up correctly and wobbled around. That's to be expected with decades-old wood that has been sitting in a shed! Now they all line up and slide in and out with no problem.

As mentioned above, I didn't like that the dresser body originally went right to the floor so I bought six 6-inch decorative legs and finished them to  match the dresser. We attached metal mounting brackets directly to the bottom of the dresser and the legs screw right into them. I wouldn't suggest attaching the legs without the brackets as the built-in screw is very short so there isn't enough support. They could possibly break off if you moved the dresser around without lifting it. That's my worry, anyway.

Dresser Makeover - Cerusing

What's left on this journey? Hardware. I was leaning towards cup pulls like the ones we used on the drawers in our kitchen makeover but couldn't find anything I liked. We took a trip to Lee Valley Tools and I fell in love with some very expensive pulls ($14 each!), but it ended up that they were out of stock and discontinued. So it was back to Lowe's where I "settled" for the ones you see. I didn't really settle because I do like them a lot. Maybe even more than the pricey ones. The center knobs are kind of fun too with their woven, tufted look.

Dresser Makeover - Cerusing

I'm really in love with this dresser. I set it up in the dining room to take advantage of the blank wall and afternoon light for photos. I'm thinking it looks pretty good there and would make an excellent buffet. I might have to go looking for another dresser!

Dresser Makeover - Cerusing

But it's moved into the bedroom now and fits perfectly. I didn't mention that I sold that highboy I didn't like when we moved, so we've been making do with the one we used to have in the guest room (also a stain + paint makeover - my first one!) It's been pretty crowded with only a few drawers between us. I may actually get to unpack all of my clothes now!

Dresser Makeover - Cerusing
Dresser Makeover - Cerusing
Dresser Makeover - Cerusing
Dresser Makeover - Cerusing
Dresser Makeover - Cerusing

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