The first table was an opportunity to experiment and make mistakes on wood that wasn’t suitable for tables that I intend to sell. And it also serves as a proof of concept prototype – a way to know if the design actually works when it’s all put together. I used half inch plywood for the sides and severely damaged barn wood for the top and shelf. Future tables will have 3/4 inch plywood and barn wood without too many obvious flaws. There is a design element on the front apron that is made from a twig that was about an inch to an inch and a half in diameter that I split in half and attached with copper wire. The sides each have a design element that was made from metal I salvaged from a food can. I cut the metal out in the shape I wanted, straightened it out as much as possible, crimped the edges a bit so they wouldn’t have any sharp parts sticking out, and then painted them with copper paint that I oxidized with a verdigris patina. The metal on the sides was attached with brass screws, the heads of which I also treated with the copper paint and the verdigris patina. I sealed these with spray polyurethane.
I cut three pieces of barn wood, two the same length for the top, and a shorter one for the shelf. I sanded them a little bit and then ripped one edge on each piece of wood for the top so that they would have a clean edge for joining. I joined them using pocket screws. The barn wood was somewhat warped, so it took some effort to join them in a way that didn’t make the warping too noticeable. I first joined them at one end, and then used a clamp to hold them together with a smooth join, which had the effect of straightening out some of the warping. And then I added two more screws, joining the two pieces in three places.
I cut out the shapes I wanted in the plywood using a jigsaw for the outer edges, and a scroll saw for the tighter, inside edges. For the next table I make, I’m going to experiment with using a large drill bit to drill a hole the size of the tightest parts of the curves in the hope of making it easier to cut with the saws. We’ll see how that goes.
I attached the apron to the sides (legs) using pocket screws, and then attached the shelf and the top the same way. After the sides were joined to the apron, I painted the base using Old Fashioned Milk Paint, and then treated it with tung oil and carnauba wax. I think I might leave the carnauba wax off from now on. It seems to want to bring out imperfections in the milk paint. I applied PolyWhey urethane to the barn wood, and then attached those pieces.
The barn wood I used for the top has a lot of problems, one of which is a crack that runs somewhat diagonally along the entire length of one of the pieces. I saw this as an opportunity to experiment with some different design ideas. I tried filling it with wood filler and painting that with copper paint and verdigris patina. That really looked horrible, so I dug it out and then painted the insides of the crack and about a half inch of the top on either side of the crack with the copper and patina. I was using as my inspiration the way the oxidized copper paint looked on the pecan veneer coffee table I transformed several years ago. With that piece, I took off about fifty years of old furniture wax and added a design inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright stained glass windows. The oxidized copper finish was intended to look like oxidized copper caming in between the glass panes (which I reproduced using artists’ oils on white primer). It looked great on the pecan veneer, which was not very dark, but the darkness of the barn wood caused the verdigris copper to get lost and not really stand out. I decided it just amounted to a distraction, so I will not be doing that again with barn wood. But it was a worthwhile experiment.
Milk Paint is a natural, low to no-VOC paint that comes in powder form that you mix yourself with water. It’s my favorite paint. I love the way it looks and the many different ways it can be applied for different effects. And I like that it’s mostly non-toxic. I think it contains some lye in it or something like that, so you definitely wouldn’t want to drink it. The PolyWhey is also natural and milk based, and is low VOC. The tung oil and carnauba wax are also low VOC. I love the way they look as compared to most other finishes. I use the spray polyurethane on the verdigris copper because I am concerned about applying anything with a brush to that finish. I’m afraid it could be damaged if it’s brushed before it has been sealed.
The table has several flaws in it, such as places where screws went all the way through the wood and holes for the copper wire that are positioned badly. Of course, those mistakes were an important part of my learning curve, and I’ll know what not to do in the future so those things won’t happen again.
This table was only around 19 inches in height, but future tables will mostly be 22 inches in height, and varying widths. I’m using this one as a place to display some of my favorite pieces of pottery that I have collected over the years. I anticipate people using the tables for displaying art or decorative items, or possibly plants, but I’m sure they could be used in many other ways as well.
Here is the first table again