A Cabinet Redo…

I was thinking back on my year in terms of project completion. The list is really, really short. I can count on one hand the projects that got done around here over the last year. That is less than 5 projects! Specifically, I can only think of 3ish.
The first was the outdoor table creation/completion I already talked about – way back in March. We used it all summer. It has been great – well worth the effort that went into getting it done.

The second project was a gardening thing. I wanted to add a bit of color to our front garden and add some plantings to an area on the north side of our house that has been just mulch and stepping stones. I did actually get started on both of these ideas. The change wasn’t all that dramatic so I am waiting to see how it looks next year before reporting success. Here is a sneak peek, though.

Then – Tad posing with mulch and a few stepping stones – we had just planted some “steppables” between the stepping stones here…


Now – No Tad, but minimal wood mulch and some plantings…


The third and final project of 2015 involved getting a new cabinet for my workspace. This project is what I am presenting today. I have talked about this situation a few times. Initially, I thought I was getting a custom designed/made cabinet of mahogany recycled from old rail cars. That idea never came to fruition. I was bummed about the outcome. I immediately moved on to a new idea that involved getting someone to remake an existing furniture piece that we already had and no longer needed. The first wood worker I contacted was on board immediately. I had put this off for 6-8 months thinking it was going to be a lengthy ordeal finding someone willing to do this. I was a little surprised. I just called them up, they agreed, they put me on their schedule, they got it done, I finished it, and it is very nice. No elaborate, twisted, mysterious story. Just a pleasant path to completion…

This is what we started with.

Sticks cabinet...

I had some pretty specific requirements for the new cabinet. It was going to have to fit into a pre-existing corner of my workspace and it needed to provide enough storage for everything I currently had in this much larger/taller cabinet.


Here were my requirements – and how it all worked out.
42-44 inches wide X 22-24 inches deep X 28-29.5 inches high. Done – it fits the space perfectly.


Easy to clean under and around – so, up on a base or easily movable. Done – easily movable with felt pads on the bottom of the reused log feet.


Area to hide the bulky work printer on the right side – on an adjustable shelf. Done – the ugly printer remains hidden behind closed doors – on an adjustable shelf.


Two file drawers on the left side – to accommodate letter sized files. Done – I ended up only needing one drawer for files and the other for miscellaneous storage.

File drawer

Micellaneous drawer

Good construction, quality hardware, and a stylish design. Done. They did a really nice job putting things back together after deconstructing it. No new hardware was needed because they were able to reuse the old stuff, which was good quality to begin with. Finally, they were able to rework the piece and optimize the majority of the artwork that I had hoped to preserve.


Natural wood rather than painted wood as the finish. This requirement obviously changed once I decided to recycle our existing cabinet. The cabinet was returned to me with areas that needed to be touched up/finished and blended with the existing art.


I ended up using tinted water based stains and a compatible water based finish. Mostly it was finishing the interior,


Inside finish

the edges that had been cut down,



the top,



and I had to add one leaf to cover up where the door handle used to be.


Designed to coordinate with our maple flooring, natural cherry baseboards/window trim, rusty finish stair railings and desk base, and the zebrawood desk top. I think it works into the eclectic feel of the space.


I would love to check my workspace off the master To Do List. Sadly, I cannot. There has been a revision that prevents that part of the list from being completely checked off. You may have noticed (or not) that I stained the top of the new cabinet green.


If you noticed that, you may be wondering (or not) what happened to the old cabinet top. Well, I opted to not have the top of the existing cabinet cut up to fit the reworked piece. It felt like a lot of the artwork would have been lost. It sits in the extra bedroom (now storage room) waiting for its new life…

The Top
I am now thinking about using the old top as my desktop. I would replace the current zebrawood top.

Then, I would reuse the zebrawood top on some other table. Maybe, a sofa table because I could really use somewhere to put my tea when I am laying around in the living room – not doing projects. Or, maybe, I could just reuse the old cabinet top as the new sofa tabletop instead of playing musical tabletops – because I do like the zebrawood as the desk top. Or, I use the old cabinet top to create a new breakfast table in the sunroom since I still need to check that off my list.
I just don’t know.
This is why I only accomplished 3 projects in the last year.
Every project leads to another project…

Picnic Table Project – Check!

It is a miracle! I can check another completed project off my To Do List. Exciting!


Our outdoor dining table is finished and ready to picnic on! It isn’t quite picnic weather yet here in Colorado, but I did want to give a quick progress report – because it feels good to get stuff done!

Hang on to your horses and get ready for the outdoor dining table ride – it was a bit bumpy…

First, we decided on a wood species. Here is why we chose white oak. The planks for the table top weren’t quite what I expected initially.


Luckily, I was able to find a woodworker who was able to provide perfectly planed planks. I was excited!


Then, we had to come up with a design – specifically created to accommodate the above mentioned white oak planks and other custom specifications. It was a process

Table top 2

I finally found a local metalworker to create the base I wanted. It was supposed to arrive in August. It actually arrived in October. We did a quick fit test to confirm that all was well. It was. I was excited!


For the wood we debated two different finishes – just Watco Danish Oil (on the left) or the cedar stain oil finish we use on our wood doors (on the right).


We opted for the cedar stain oil finish. It has a warmer tone, adds a little color to the white oak, and compliments the other wood around our outdoor space.


Then, the project came to a standstill. Tad felt like the table base wasn’t sturdy enough and needed some sort of additional support. The base was a bit wobbly, but I thought it would stiffen up once we secured the wood top planks. I also decided it needed a cover to protect the wood top from the winter elements. I hadn’t anticipated that. So, between the wobbly base problem and the lack of a protective winter cover – the finished wood went back into the garage for 5 months. I was not excited.

This was the last update you saw on this project. I walked by this unfinished project every day for 5 months – usually several times per day. It mocked me – every single day…


Finally – a warm March weekend – I was excited! The protective winter cover had been ordered, made, arrived, and was ready for use. Despite the wobbly base problem, Tad and I agreed to just get the wood top planks installed and problem solve the “racking” afterwards. 48 pilot holes drilled. 48 stainless steel screws. 192 stainless steel washers – 2 different sizes. Only two trips to the home improvement store – because I initially miscalculated the number of washers needed. Just to clarify. It’s not that I don’t know how to multiply or count. I do. I just thought we needed only 2 washers per bracket/screw hole to make the wood level with the metal strips. We needed 3 per hole.



Finished. Exciting!


It comfortably seats six people – as planned. Exciting!


The wood tone of the table top works well with the fir doors in the space – as planned. Again – Exciting!


Oh – and the wobbly, “racking” base problem is no more. Securing the planks to the base fixed that. It is safe and sturdy. No additional support needed. I’ve mentioned that detail to Tad multiple times – because I am not right very often. I was right on this one. I won’t soon forget this victory. Doubly exciting!


Sadly, though. It is only March. March is reportedly the snowiest month of the year here in Colorado. So, the tabletop is safely tucked under it’s protective cover – waiting until the last snow of the season flies – and spring finally arrives.


For the final time (at least in reference to this post) – Exciting!

Outdoor dining – one step forward, one step back…

The theme of this project is definitely “one step forward, one step back”.

Back in May, I thought I was well on my way to an outdoor dining table.

We finally decided on the wood species we would use for the table top. I tracked down some planks at a local lumber yard. I thought they could just plane the planks at the lumber yard and the table top would be ready to be finished. I was wrong. What the lumber yard considered “cleaned up” was no where near cleaned up enough for a table top.


So, they referred me to a local woodworker. Well, that woodworker came through. The white oak planks for my outdoor dining table are perfect! They are beautiful – all the same length and thickness, smooth radius edges all around, nicely sanded. He says that I should do a light hand sanding on one side. I will follow his instructions before finishing the wood. Though, I could probably get away without doing any sanding. The planks are that smooth.


One step forward.

The wood planks are different widths so I needed to decide if there was a particular design that I liked best. I laid out the planks in different order with different spacing. I had the cat vote. She preferred this version which also happens to be the version I like!


Next step is to get the base done. I want something interesting, something different, something unique. I thought it would be easy to get some custom furniture maker or metal fabricator interested in creating my outdoor dining table. I was wrong.

One step back.

I started the search a month ago. These are the specifications I have sent out – including the attached sketch:

  • I’ve got 4 white oak planks for the top of the table. All are 90” in length. All are random widths – 8”, 6 7/8 “, 5 1/8”, 7”. All are 1 5/16” thick.
  • That is about 27” inches worth of wood width for the table top. I was hoping for about 38” wide for the top. So, I need about another 11” of metal and spacing to fill in the difference (I was thinking only 1/4” between planks). I am leaning towards varied metal strips to separate the wood planks.
  • I prefer asymmetry on the table top for some interest if possible.
  • I was hoping for a natural steel look if that is possible with stainless steel. Stainless steel because I am hoping for minimal rust being that it is an outdoor table.
  • We were thinking that we would also like the table on locking casters. We would like the top of the table at 29-30” from the floor.
  • The total length of the table should be anywhere between 90” (the length of the white oak planks) – 96” maximum.
  • Finally, I was hoping for an easy way to attach the white oak planks to the top of the table.
  • I was thinking about picnic table X type legs.
  • I am open to suggestions.

Table top 2

So far I have struck out with getting anyone to want to take on the job.

I had hoped to have an outdoor dining table by now.

I continue to be in search of someone willing and able to help me complete my outdoor dining table.

I am not giving up – dang it!