I made a table

I sure did! (I still kinda can’t believe it.)  Without further ado, here’s the finished product:

Read on for how I did it.

Here’s the back story:  Andrew and I ‘inherited’ an amazing, 96″ long piece of wood that used to serve as his great Uncle Ralph’s basement workbench.  Before that, it was Andrew’s great grandmother’s grandfather’s wagon wheel workbench (circa 1850) in Clarence, NY.  Aunt Ruth graciously allowed us to have the workbench upon Uncle Ralph’s passing a couple years ago.

Andrew and I immediately knew what we’d do with the piece: construct a console table for our dining room to hold my cookbooks.  I’ve had a vision for the table since day one; I dreamed of a rustic top with decorative legs.  I liked the juxtaposition of rough with polished. However–and this was our hang-up from the beginning–how could I have both decorative (aka NOT square) legs AND two shelves for my books?

Every few months I’d bug Andrew to help me start the table.  I’d draw up rough plans with various ideas for installing shelves on spindly legs, including dowels or brackets.  My cries fell on deaf ears; between our ambitious outdoor projects and the busy-ness of life, we just never started on the table.

I finally took matters into my own hands and–while Andrew was on a business trip in December–built the damn table.  I drew up some plans, researched wooden legs online and recruited a handy friend who does all her own home renovation.

Eureka!  After MUCH searching, I found legs whose top halves were squared-off (designed for enclosing a cabinet, perhaps).  They would provide the right angles I needed for my shelves.

The day Andrew left, giddy with excitement, I grabbed our sander and gave each side of the hunk of wood a once-over.  I sanded just enough to smooth it out and remove paint drops and grime, as I didn’t want to lose too much of the character.

That same night, my handy friend, Stacy, came over for a pow-wow and helped me finalized some design plans and our timeline.  I ordered my table legs and prayed they arrived with enough time to put the table–or at least most of it–together before Andrew would arrive home 10 days later.

In the meantime, I continued sanding and staining the pieces for the table, and Stacy and I made a trip to Lowe’s for new wood for the apron and shelves.  I sanded, primed and painted the new stuff in our newly cleaned basement (another project I tackled while Andrew was gone).

My legs arrived the following Wednesday, only TWO DAYS before Andrew was scheduled to return!  I was sweating bullets, but breathless with excitement.  I popped in my favorite Christmas movie, Love Actually, and got to painting.

The next evening, Stacy and I got straight to work assembling the table base.  Now that the project is finished, I feel like I could do it solo.  (Except for the sheer size of the piece and absolute impossibility of me moving it by myself.) However, this was not the time for me to experiment with a jigsaw.  I very much appreciated both her skills in woodworking and her presence as a confidence booster.

That night, we headed to the basement to cut the insertion sites for our table legs into the shelves and attached them with brackets.  By the end of the night, we had a very odd-looking contraption, suspended on two chairs:

Stacy was a true GEM of a friend and came over Friday during the day to finish painting the base of the table while I was at work!  So sweet.

She and I had only a couple hours to finish up and put the top of the table on before Andrew walked through the door!  Voilá!


Needless to say, Andrew was surprised/shocked/thrilled/impressed, although he did admit he had a hunch I would do something BIG while he was gone.  (Because, you know, spending 10 HOURS cleaning our basement wasn’t big enough.)

Once Andrew was home, he and I finished up the table, adding some 2 x 4 pieces to the top portion of the apron to add support, and attaching the vise, which required a custom-built mounting piece.  Thankfully, Andrew is a hoarder and we had a hunk of weathered wood in the garage that was large enough to do the job.

Next up: loading the table with my cookbooks!  I didn’t count, but there are a lot. (And I DO use them.  Promise!)

Last, I added the finishing touches.  Two pineapple-shaped candlesticks, salvaged for me by my dad from a friend’s yard sale (a classic dad-move) hold teal tapers (thank-you, Vidler’s, for selling candles in every color of the rainbow).  I’ve been holding onto those for awhile, waiting for the table to be finished. A brand-new Tiffany-style lamp, purchased specifically for this table, sits on the other side.  I’ve wanted a Tiffany lamp for years, and have literally been waiting until the table was finished to pick one out.  I knew I wanted a round shade with mixes of blues and greens, and Andrew and I both loved this one.

I’m pretty freaking proud of myself–and the piece itself–and take so much JOY every time I catch a glimpse of it as I walk through the dining room.  What do you think?  What’s your next house project?

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