Monday, January 28, 2013

The Great Furniture Project

A long time ago, well less than two years, but more than a year and a half ago, we bought a sheet of plywood.  It was to finish off this project here.  We were going to use it to make shelves in what had been our old closet, before we put in a whole wall of IKEA closets.  We were in Rona looking for something, and came across this pile of quite nice, but cheap, plywood, and I said that it would be great for those shelves.  So we took it home, and it went into the garage.  Because there was so much junk useful stuff piled in the middle of the garage, we had to lean it against the work bench.  And then the urge to actually make those shelves seemed to disappear.  After a while that 4x8 sheet of plywood leaning against the work bench that ran down one side of the garage hindered us getting at the junk useful stuff piled there.  So we moved the plywood across the door opening.  It is a single car garage with a 9' door, so we pushed the plywood to one side to leave enough room to walk past the end of it to get out of that door.  Didn't need a big enough opening to drive in, as there was no room in there to park a car.  A few months ago some cleaning up was done in the garage, and the plywood got moved again.  Now it was in the family room leaning against the piano.  No problem, as no-one had played that piano in about 12 years.  But it was kind of long and  did cramp our style a bit.  And then I had a vision.....

I told Larry what I wanted to do with that plywood.  I planned it all out, and made sure that all the pieces I needed would be able to be cut out of the one sheet.  We carried the plywood out of the family room, through the garage, and out by the barn.  Set out a couple of saw horses, I checked my plan, and started measuring and drawing lines.  Over the years, the many projects that we have done, I think it has always been me that has done the measuring.  And you know who gets blamed if the piece of wood is cut to the wrong size....
Anyway, this time it was my project and of course it was me doing the measuring.  Larry helped me control that piece of plywood.  We don't have a table saw, so I used a skill saw and this clamp on guide thingy.  It involved a lot of measuring, and I have to admit that some of the pieces that were supposed to be identical to others, weren't quite.  Oh well.  (Just now, I came across this great idea for making a jig. )

Everywhere became my workshop.  The garage, the spare bedroom, the dining room.  I did manage to do the major sanding outside.  I had help from my friends.


I rounded some of the edges with a rasp, the same one that we use to rasp Pride's feet.


Then the project needed some legs.  I like furniture that is raised off the ground a bit.  Since this piece only needed short legs, we can call them feet.  I had a couple of options.  We had some pieces of nice sanded 4x4's.  They had started out as being part of stair railing corner posts. (Another project waiting to be done)  Giant spindles.  We were adding short legs (feet) to a kitchen island we had got off Craigslist, to put next to the stove at Wyndson Cottage.  I wanted it the same height as the stove. We had cut the unnecessary extra lengths off the big spindles.  I had sanded them by hand.  We had fastened them to the underside of the island with two brackets per leg, four screws per bracket, 32 screws total.  We then had to undo all those screws to pack the island in the truck, because it was too tall to fit in the canopy, and it wasn't going to work with it laid on it's side.  We put the legs back on when we got to Oliver, fastened all 32 screws again.  Then we decided we didn't like how it looked, it seemed too tall.  So we flipped it over and undid those 32 screws again, and played around to figure out what seemed the right height.  We brought those four legs back here with us, and I cut them off, much much shorter.  You just read all that to understand how we ended up with those four 5" 4x4 blocks.  As if you really care.  Those blocks though, they just looked too...well, blocky...under my furniture project.  So I had this brilliant (I thought it was!) idea.  I set the mitre saw at 8 degrees, and went around and cut a thin wedge off each side, slipping a wedge underneath the block on the last cut, to hold it level.  I was really pleased with how they turned out!


The plain plywood was a bit boring, so I wanted to add a bit of character to my vision.  I went to our local lumberyard, which has a clearance section out front where they have a bin of mouldings for a dollar a piece.  It was kind of disappointing, the selection was just about nil.  I came home with one 7' piece.  Wasn't quite sure how I was going to use it, but eventually came up with a plan.


Last weekend we went to Habitat for Humanity's ReStore.  I needed hinges.  So we ended up down on the floor with a big bin of hinges, taking them all out, trying to find six hinges that matched.  We found the perfect ones.  25 cents each.  This was furniture on a budget, so it just went against the grain to pay full price for moulding or hinges or paint.

And here it is.  Do you know what it is?


How about now? Parlez vous francais?  (hopefully Google Translate got it right)


I think this will give it away.


Yep, it's a laundry hamper.  One space for the really dirty clothes (think dirty jeans and other stuff that gets really grubby when we are working outside).  One space for the medium sort of stuff, and the other one for lights and whites.

There were a few things I had wanted to try with this project.  First was to make some chalk paint. Chalk paint is all the rage with the furniture make-over people.  If you want to know more, just google 'homemade chalk paint'.  I'll try it again, although mine came out quite streaky, and then I added a second coat.  That didn't fix it, and it was lumpy too, so I did a really quick sand between coats.  I watered the paint down and put a third wash coat on, and I liked that.  I wanted to distress the piece a bit, to make it look sort of old.  I had a hard time with that, because I'd worked so hard to get a good coat of paint on it.  I did a little bit, sanded the paint off some edges, and forgot to do the edges of the lids. Then I wanted to put a dark glaze on.  I painted it on, and left it, didn't manipulate it or wipe most of it off like you usually do.  I liked that result.  I wanted to add some script.  I played around with Google Translate.  This is supposed to mean 'laundry to be washed'.  French just seemed more interesting that English.


This is what it replaces.  We had three of these.  I got these after the IKEA project was finished. They replaced two mismatched hampers we had.  One for me, one for Larry.  I really like the idea of using different hampers for different types of wash loads.  Makes sense.  When that particular hamper is full, it's time to get it in the washer.


A huge improvement don't you think?
Hope you don't think I'm bragging, I'm just so really really happy with how this turned out, I just have to share:)) And look at those cute little feet!


And look, it coordinates nicely with the duvet cover.  Which was bought because the fabric was cheap and I said how well it would hide any dirty marks Luna might leave if she just happened to jump up on it.


I was hoping for a nice bright day to take the finished pictures, but it wasn't happening, and I was too excited to wait.  (They aren't as crisp and clear as I would have liked.)


  1. I'm impressed! Love the little feet. You did an amazing job...congratulations!

  2. You could moonlight as a furniture maker! Love it and the color too:)

  3. IMPRESSED to say the least! You are one HANDY lady. Brilliant idea. I would love a hamper just like that, butI think my utility room and other rooms are too small :0( Way to go!

  4. I am very impressed and love it! You are so handy. I want to make a cat ladder so the cats can get up on top of our huge headboard to hang out. I think I can tackle that if I get the boards precut at Lowes. You are inspiring me :)


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