Category Archives: Repurposing

New Life – Small Scale

Our woodworking challenge for November was to work on a small scale.  I decided this would be the perfect time for a refinishing project that I have had on my list.

My find after general and basic repairs to drawer fronts.
My find after cleaning and basic repairs to drawer fronts.

The Original Find

This was one of my ‘street finds’ that someone had thrown in the garbage.  When I found it, there was no top and the drawers were stacked beside the carcass.  It had been exposed to some rain so there was slight water damage.  The carcass was strong and needed only minor repairs. There were four small drawers that were in generally good shape but required some touch up and cleaning.  Two of the drawer fronts had to be repaired or replaced.

One drawer was lined with felt and had clearly been home to a mouse family at some point.   Not too appealing but the felt could be fairly easily removed and the drawer completely cleaned.

The Refinishing Process

The first step was to remove the extra large base.   My plan was to make the finish project look more like a small scale chest of drawers and the base didn’t seem to fit that design style.  I wanted to see if I needed to replace the bottom and thought about perhaps making small feet.  Once I took off the bottom, I decided that the piece was sturdy enough and  did not require a new smaller bottom added.  I did not add feet but might still do that.  If I do go that way, I will first add a plywood base for stability and weight distribution.

It turned out that the base was solid at about 1 1/4 inches thick with a decorative edging.  I would like to know what was on the top as it would likely have been solid as well.  I wonder if this might have been part of a larger piece.   I chose to trim down the bottom and make use of the decorative edging as a top.  By trimming, the decorative edge on the side was lost.  Fortunately, we had a router bit that duplicated the edge quite closely.  The other alternative would have been a straight side with a rounded edge.

The bottom had been screwed in place so there were existing screw holes that fit the top dimensions.   Typically, the top would be screwed in from the bottom so the holes would not show on the top but since I  didn’t want to take the carcass apart unnecessarily, I decided to live with the holes and cover them with plugs later.  This also results in the option of removing the top later.

With all the touch-ups and repairs completed, I sanded everything through several phases down to 400 grit sand paper.  I chose to finish with shellac because Stephen had just picked some up for another project.  I haven’t worked with shellac have been wanting to try it.  I applied three coats using a foam brush and sanding with fine grit between coats.

Top drawer after felt removed and top sanded.
Top drawer after felt removed and top sanded.

While the outside pieces were drying,   I removed the old felt and cleaned the drawer then made sure top and bottom were level.  The belt sander came in handing for smoothing and removing last bits of the felt from the top surface.

The Results

Here is my finished scale model set of drawers.  Actually, it is not technically an official scale of a larger project  – at least not a specific one that I had in mind – but at 21″ h x 12 “d x 9″w, it is a small version of a full size dresser, perfect for jewellery, art supplies or other small treasures.  The top currently has plugs that are slightly proud (not flush). Stephen calls that a ‘feature’ but I have not decided whether to leave them like that or cut them flat.  Either way, I might put a piece of glass on top, which could be used to hold favourite images.

 

Sustainable Art

I have been thinking a lot about sustainability and responsibility in making art.   Since this is Earth Day weekend, it is a perfect time to reflect and write about these issues.  Being responsible in material purchase and use is important to both me and Stephen so we frequently discuss ways that we can better reduce, reuse, recycle, or repurpose.  That applies in our processes as well as our products.

Continue reading Sustainable Art

Work in Progress: Quilting with Denim

This post was written by Mary Elizabeth O’Toole

This week, I am finishing up a lap quilt made with mainly reclaimed materials.  I have been saving discarded jeans and other clothes for some time specifically for a project like this one.  It is a perfect opportunity to use up some previously ‘well loved’ items that are really too worn for donation.

Stack of jeans, flannel pjs and flannel scraps - partially cut.
Stack of jeans, flannel pjs and flannel scraps – partially cut.

I had washed all the clothes before putting them in my material stash but I hadn’t cut them because Continue reading Work in Progress: Quilting with Denim

Memory Quilts

My to quilt list includes several new designs for memory quilts.  I  have some collected materials that I have to prepare for those projects, including a pile of men’s shirts and a bag of ties.   I had a few clothing items of Dad’s, some gathered from thrift shops, and some given me by a friend who thought that I could put them to good use. Continue reading Memory Quilts

Blog revisited

I started this blog with big intentions to post everyday and then read some advice that might be unrealistic and I should start more slowly and ramp-up to daily over time, if at all.  I fell into the mire of over-thinking and over planning and, after falling behind in posting, over-analysing how to get back on track.   Should I scrap this blog and start fresh with a new, clean slate?  Give up on the project and move to other things?  Go backwards and try to create additional posts to fill up for lost gaps? Set a schedule of regular posts to move forward with great leaps? Continue reading Blog revisited