Consider yourself warned…this post is beefy…to match our beefy desk! I know…I got all (sarcastic) “original” up in the blog post title. But it was either that or “A Series Of Unflattering Pictures Of Colby Building A Desk”. Apparently I’m not overly creative these days. I blame the heat. Anyway…the other day we told you all about our plan to convert the empty guest bedroom into an Etsy office/work space. And we recently took the space from empty office:
To office space with a beefy, unfinished desk:
So here’s the how-to build your own beefy desk blog post, starting with a cardboard, very rough sketch.
The sketch basically spelled out the general dimensions for the desk (9’6″ long by 32″ deep by 36″ tall), how many/where the desk legs would be, and the length/position of the support pieces. Our shopping list included (3) 8′ 4 x 4 spruce posts for the desk legs, (6) 10′ 1 x 6 spruce decking planks for the desk surface, (5) 10′ 2 x 4 pine for support pieces and the frame, and a box of 2-1/2″ star bit screws. Home with our supplies, it was time to get to work.
Since the desk was so large, we couldn’t build it in the basement workshop and bring it upstairs. It had to be built in pieces and assembled in place. If we ever move we’ll have to tear the desk apart to get it out of there. AND it’s probably coming out the window. So down in the basement we did three things: built a frame for the desk surface, pre-cut the support pieces and boards, and cut/notched the desk legs.
We started by working on the desk legs. Since we got 8′ 4 x 4 posts for the legs, they needed to be cut down to size (35″ tall). Since you should never trust the squareness of your boards from the lumber yard or big box store, always make your first cut a “squaring the end off” cut. Colby did this with a miter saw (our newest toy that we purchased to make Etsy shop projects easier).
With the six, 35″ 4 x 4 desk posts cut down to size, the next order of business was making the notches in each leg. There were two sets of notches that needed to be made. One set at the top of each post for the desk surface to nest into the post. And another set of notches near the bottom of the posts where the support boards would nest into. We had some difficulty in notching the posts. After measuring and marking the proper position for each notch using a square, we used a combination of a circular saw, chisel and multi-tool. Ignore “captain un-safety’s” messing with the safety gear in the circular saw pic. For shame!
After the notches were cut, we gave each notch a light sand, along with sanding the post in its entirety. You see, we got a bit of a deal on the spruce posts for this project. They were originally alot more expensive but were quite damaged from sitting in too much rain/wind/snow/general elements. But it was nothing a little sanding job couldn’t fix. Since it was a rustic, I need a huge work surface kind of desk, the damaged wood fit the aesthetic and was cheaper too.
With the desk legs ready to go, the next step was frame assembly. Colby started by cutting down the 10′ 2 x 4 pieces into a frame for the 9’6″ x 32″ desk surface. The frame was essentially a large rectangle made out of two long 2 x 4 pieces, a couple short ones on each end, and a couple of mid section support pieces. The outside frame pieces involved 45 degree miter cuts before screwing the pieces together.
Here’ s the shot of the frame all assembled. Since most of the frame wouldn’t be visible one the desk top was added, it’s just screwed right together with a little wood glue and 2-1/2″ screws.
The mid section support pieces are actually screwed together using a Kregg Jig.
With everything cut up and prepped, we took our pieces upstairs and started to assemble the desk. While making cuts, Colby was smart and labeled each of the desk legs so we would easily know which piece goes where. Genius…genius I tell you!
We started assembling the beefy desk by laying it on its side, adding the desk legs to the frame one at a time.
And since the desk is a rustic work desk AND the likelihood of someone seeing the assembling screws was zilch, for ease of assembly’s sake, we screwed the desk legs right to the frame. Bam! It doesn’t get much easier than that.
With all six desk legs attached to the desk, we stood her right up in the space. This was the first “feel” that I got for how big the desk actually was and whether or not I made the right size choice. I was a little apprehensive about its scale in the room and whether or not the desk would overwhelm the small space. But the work surface area was the most important part of the desk, so I went with the “go big or go home” mindset and thankfully it worked. The desk seems to be the perfect size. It’s kind of the Goldilocks of desks…not too big, not too small, and juuuuust right!
With the desk in its upright position (with tray tables up and belongings stowed neatly under the seat) we started adding the planks to the frame.
To keep the desk surface consistent with the desk legs, we used 10′ 1 x 6 spruce decking planks cut down to our 9’6″ desk length. Adding the decking to the frame was ridiculously easy once we got the first piece in place. The game plan was to screw each plank into the mid section pieces of the frame below it, with the screws going in from underneath the desk. However, the first piece had to be attached to the front, apron piece of the desk thanks to a significant overhang. To ensure the secureness and accurateness of the first plank, Colby started by drilling pilot holes into the frame where the plank would attach to it.
Then screwed the plank into the front of the frame at an angle and then into the mid section support pieces.
After it was secured to the front, he went along the underside of the desk and screwed through each support piece into the first plank. You can see here why we had to drive screws through the front of the apron…since there was so much overhang on the first piece. Just screwing through the bottom support piece into the plank wouldn’t have held the first plank quite as securely as it would with the other planks, which we could drive two screws into each plank.
Then we just kept adding planks, one at a time. We had quite the system going on. Colby would add each plank and pull it tight to the plank in front of it while I would screw the plank into the frame while sitting cozily underneath the desk. I felt like George Kastanza hanging out under there. PLENTY of napping room under this desk! Oh…and Goose helped. Mind the gap.
So proud of my boys! With the desk planks properly secured, the next and final assembly step was adding the pre-cut support pieces.
The first piece was for the middle of the desk, to span the section between the middle two legs. To do this, Colby made a modified beam by screwing 2 x 4 bits together and screwed the beam right into the desk legs. Fancy, no?!
The other support pieces, also made out of lengths of 2 x 4, were pre-cut and screwed into the desk leg notches. Where the two support pieces joined at the corners, Colby made a couple of 45 degree miter cuts and screwed these pieces into the desk leg at an angle from the top of the support piece.
And with that, folks, I have a desk!
But it is KILLING me not being able to use it yet. You see, Colby advised me not to finish the desk right away. And by finish it I mean stain and poly it. Because the wood we bought was a bit wet, it needed a decent amount of dry out time before I could stain/poly. I’m hoping I can stain it sometime this week, poly it the coming weekend (is it sad that it’s Sunday night and I’m already counting down the days until the next weekend?!), and start REALLY using it next week! Although, I have been using the desk to box up orders and it is a dream! I can’t wait to share the finished product with you next week!
Pssst…So what were you all up to this weekend?! It was a scorcher here in Maine so naturally Colby and I spent it in the cool, basement working on projects. Such woodworking geeks!
I’m getting ahead of myself tonight with this project. Or maybe I’m just REALLY behind. Depends on how you look at it. Kind of like one of those glass is half empty or half full kind of deals. So I painted a bookcase green and plopped it into the guest bedroom. Game day bucket go boom!
There is no other furniture in the guest bedroom (no bed, no nightstand, no curtains, no light fixture) and we haven’t even finished polying the floors (but I’m holding out for a slightly warmer weekend for that stinky job so we can open all the windows and air out). But we have a bookcase. That’s the getting ahead of myself part. Painting a bookcase green really wasn’t high on the priority list and it was just one of those “on a whim” projects. So what’s the getting behind part of this story? Colby built the bookcase for me back in February…wait for it…of 2012.
The above pic is the old picture I took of the bookcase. So you can kind of see a completely different looking living room behind it. The bookcase was originally built for the parlor to store Colby’s work related stuff on, since he works from home, but after Colby built it, we scrapped that idea altogether and deemed the bookcase appropriate for the guest room. So it sat in the basement for a year.
And remember yesterday how I was telling you that not staining/finishing wood is bad? Yeah…this was really bad! We (and by we I totally mean Colby) had to repair a few spots where the wood split. It was nothing that some glue, a few extra screws and some wood putty couldn’t fix. Anyway…I had just barely started priming the pine bookcase when I came up with my color idea…why not take the green from one of the color inspiration napkins for the bookcase color?! Just call me Albert Einstein…genius!
So I went to our local Aubuchon Hardware store, who carries Benjamin Moore paint (my new personal favorite paint), and pulled swatches and asked for help until we found the perfect color match for the napkin color called…spoiler alert…prepare to be completely unimpressed…Yellow Green. Seriously…could that color name get any more boring?! But I guess I was overdue for a boring color name since my last pick was an exciting Himalayan Trek shade. So home I came from the store with two quarts…one of tinted primer and the other Yellow Green paint in a semi gloss.
This was my first experience with tinted primer. And I’m not gonna lie, I had no idea there was such thing as tinted primer. It never occurred to me that some paint colors simply required a darker primer base to help the top coat color cover better. To get an idea of helpful using a tinted primer can be with more saturated shades, with the tinted primer I went with one coat tinted primer and two coats of green instead of one coat white primer and six to eight coats of green.
After just one coat of tinted primer on the bookcase, I was jonesing for warmer weather so I could break out the paint sprayer and spray this bad boy. It took me nearly two hours just to prime it with a brush thanks to all the nooks and crannies and funny angles to this thing. Painting gods…if you can hear me…please make summer come stat! I want to paint outside with the new paint sprayer that I purchased late fall…in Maine…after spray painting season was over…doh!
One of the things I love about Benjamin Moore paint (at least the kinds I’ve tried so far) is how fast the paint dries. By the time I finished priming the bookcase, it was dry enough for paint. So after having a minor panic attack at how yellow the paint looked in the can (it dried more green like), I dove right into the painting of the bookcase.
Two coats and one Goose photo bomb later, I had a finished, painted bookcase.
And naturally, despite still needing a few more coats of poly on the floor, I moved the bookcase up to its new home in the guest bedroom, along the wall beside the door.
Here’s a better angle so you can see the bookcase placement better (and no…we don’t normally keep our bathroom door closed and no…Colby isn’t in there taking care of business…if you know what I mean…we just dumped some drain cleaning stuff down the tub drain to rid it of Goose hairs…the stuff does not agree with Gooses and one of Goose’s favorite places to hang out is the bathtub…I know, weird, right?!).
And because I couldn’t possibly move a bookcase into a room without temporarily styling it to get an idea of what the space may look like in the end, I bring you a pseudo styled bookcase. Pseudo in that the flowers came from the dining room table and the baskets came from the bathroom.
What I’m about to confess to you is shocking, so consider yourself warned. I…am…out…of…extra…accessories! OMG…OMG…OMG! I usually keep a cabinet in the kitchen full of random accessories that don’t yet have a permanent space to live in our home. The cabinet is empty folks…I repeat…the cabinet is empty. Somebody needs to go shopping…I hear Home Goods calling my name!
On another note…I’ve been doing a little bathroom thinking as we’re progressing along our “finish the damned second floor already” mission. I’m not convinced our yellow bathroom is here to stay, especially once we finish the guest bedroom. I’m starting to think the green/coral bedroom offers no flow as you look into a yellow/white bathroom. Thoughts? Anyone? I still love my yellow bathroom…but its days may be numbered.
Pssst…On a completely random, totally unrelated note, I’ve been reading this book called “Can We Pretend This Never Happened” by Jenny Lawson, otherwise known as The Blogess. And finished the book…in two days. And I couldn’t stop larting (that’s laugh-farting) combined with absolute uncontrollable laughter (particularly when I read the 5′ chicken story). What is wrong with me?! Anyone else read it? That book killed me!
It’s official…our entry is done! And done with pizazz, otherwise known as entrifical force. And an entrifical force our entry certainly is complete with some organization and Nate Berkus accessories. Bam!
Almost knocked you over there, didn’t she?! I told you the entry is sporting some serious entrifical force. Last time I say that, I swear. But let’s step back to the very beginning. Back to when Colby built a custom shelf for the entry.
It’s just wedged right in there, no screws necessary, it’s such a great fit. But why a custom shelf? One…because that’s how we roll, two…we like real wood as opposed to most of the fake wood/laminate big box store shelves, and three…because we fit the shelf around the beam in the entry thanks to a little notching.
So with the entry shelf built, I gave it my usual stain/poly combo using the same materials/method as when we finished the entry bench. Side note…it’s amazing how two different woods take stain so differently! The shelf has more of a reddish tint to it than the bench does.
Anyway, once the stain/poly dried, up on the
rooftop click click click wall the shelf went. Colby just wedged it right in there before whipping out the level to make sure it was properly positioned.
Then the fun part, attaching the shelf to the wall. We opted to just screw the shelf directly into the wall. But to kind of hide the screws that would be visible, we used these countersinks.
Countersinks, in my words not Colby’s official-like-technical-terms, is like a drill bit/hole saw combo. The bits drill a pilot hole into the wood for the screw, and also bore out some of the wood around it so you can sink the screw below the surface of the wood. Here’s a shot after using the countersink bit:
And here’s the shot after we screwed the shelf to the wall. Note how the screw “sinks” into the wood.
If we so choose, down the road, we could cover the screw with a wood plug, blending the screw holes in with the rest of the wooden shelf. But we don’t mind the pair of exposed screws so we’re leaving them for now.
With the shelf in place, our next step was to add some coat hooks. I ended up going with a couple sets of hooks from Target’s Threshold line, in an oil rubbed bronzed finish. They only set me back $3.99 each (before my 5% Target card discount).
And just screwed them into the wooden shelf, making sure to screw them in evenly and level-ie.
It’s easier to tell in the shot below, but we tried to line up the coat hooks with the pieces of wood we used for batten. You know, so everything kind of looked all even, spaced out correctly and professional like. You can also see how the same stain played differently with the two different types of woods.
With the shelf in place, I put away my wood finishing cap and unleashed some serious accessorizing fury. I had picked up a few items at Target to help organize the space but most everything we brought into this entry was “shopped” from throughout our house.
The basket was new. It’s a bread basket from Target that I picked up for $7.99.
It holds a flashlight, an umbrella and the charger to Goose’s magic collar (the only thing that keeps him from running into on coming traffic).
The other side of the shelf sports the Nate Berkus ram’s head I picked up a while back, a Martha Stewart for Staples white office box, and a recently purchased Nate Berkus for Target storage box (the larger one).
The white box holds all of our batteries in an organized fashion. I know it’s strange and un-typical-like to store batteries in an entry, but I wanted to add another box to the shelf and I HAD to organize our battery mess somehow, so this works for now. Maybe after the big kitchen remodel someday we’ll have a nice little spot in a junk drawer for battery organization. Until then, the box in the entry is working.
The Nate Berkus box holds our sunglasses. It keeps them out of Goose’s zone of terror and also keeps them dust and dirt free.
I hung up a rope knot (which you’ll learn a little bit more about tomorrow) on one of the hooks as well as the small Pottery Barn burlap sack that we use to hole all our winter hats and mittens.
It’s so comforting to have a nice little spot once we come in our house to drop bags, hang up our coats, and dump the mittens and boots. It’s taking a little bit of time to get used to our new little dumping zone, we still tend to leave things on the kitchen table, but we’re coming around. What’s left on the entry to-do list? The only task left for this space is to add a little art on the walls, which I’ve been scheming ideas for a few weeks now. You know I’ll keep you posted. But until then I’m reveling in our entry joy.
Pssst…What have you guys been organizing lately? Any mudroom projects?
Tonight we’ve got the third and final installment of the $5 thrift chair refinishing saga. I know, exciting stuff. We revealed the chair refinish, then posted about how we fixed the broken spring, and tonight it’s all about how we got the upholstery done.
The supplies we used for upholstering the chair included a yard and a half of outdoor fabric (it’s just as good as upholstery fabric at only a fraction of the cost), a piece of 2″ foam, black upholstery fabric (for underneath the chair), a stapler and some staples.
First task…cut the cushion down to size. To help us figure out where to cut the foam without royally messing up the cushion (you know…measure twice, cut once) we put together a little paper template and notched it out in all the appropriate places.
This made it a cinch to trace the template onto the foam.
And then cut the foam using a sharp utility knife. Helpful hint, put a new (very sharp) blade in your knife. This helps you to cut the foam instead of shredding the foam.
With the foam cut, we wedged it into place and made any minor alterations we needed to make. Not gonna lie…we’re pretty much amazing and got it right the first time. Fist bump anyone?! Or maybe a ” ‘sup head nod” is more your speed?
I thought about gluing the foam cushion in place so it wouldn’t budge when I started to add the fabric, but it was such a perfect, tight fit, so I didn’t bother. Next up…adding the fabric. I started by centering up the fabric on the cushion, inching it left and right until I was happy with the fabric position. The extra fabric was pulled through the back/sides of the chair.
I wanted to make sure the fabric stayed in place and didn’t budge, so I started by stapling the fabric to the bottom of the chair starting with the back. Three staples was all it took to properly secure the fabric.
So at this point, with the chair flipped upside down, we realized we had alot of extra fabric that was getting in the way.
We gave the fabric a little trim, sliced it in areas where it needed to get tucked around the chair legs, and started a long (and somewhat painful) process of folding the fabric around the legs (kind of like wrapping a present).
And any excess fabric was tucked in between the foam cushion and the springs, leaving tight folds around the legs that we stapled to the chair.
We kept folding, tucking, and stapling the fabric to the chair starting at the back of the chair, moving around to the sides, and finishing up on the front. Like I mentioned earlier, this was no easy task. I expected the process to last one Sunday beer (about 30 minutes long) but lasted more like five Sunday beers with a bathroom break intermission (closer to four hours). My problem…I was trying to be TOO perfect with the folds. I wanted it to look professional, not like it was my first time upholstering a chair. Once I loosened up a little and accepted the imperfections, it went so much easier. But maybe it was the five beers?!
The last step of the process, before moving the chair into place, was attaching the black, breathable upholstery fabric to the bottom of the chair. This fabric helps close up the hot mess that is the bottom of an upholstered chair. Most fabric stores, including Jo-Ann’s, carries it and it’s a cinch to attach. I just cut a square of the fabric, stapled it on, then trimmed the excess.
Leaving a cleaned up and concealed chair bottom. C’est finis.
And into the craft room the chair went.
Did you notice that I cushioned up the chair a little more with a throw pillow? It was a Christmas gift from my mom. We came across this “Reindeer Feed” grain sack pillow at Country Collectibles, one of the neatest country stores up home in Presque Isle, and she paid attention and purchased it for me as a gift.
I love the pillow and especially how it ties into Colby’s deer heads in this room.
And by tucking the pillow in the chair, I don’t think it will get destroyed by the Goose. He’s a pillow smoosher extraordinaire. If he doesn’t choke it to death during one of his Goose naps (he takes after his Dad), he smothers it to death with his massive amounts of shedding. For a short haired dog he certainly can shed!
And with that, our chair trilogy is complete. And I’ll leave you with the budget breakdown for this chair just one more time:
- Chair – $5
- Spray Primer – $3
- Spray Paint – $3
- Outdoor Fabric – $6
- Foam Cushion – $10
- Black Breathable Fabric (for bottom of chair) – $4 (and I have enough left over for about 18 more of these chairs since it came in a GINORMOUS package)
- Whopping Total – $31
You just can’t buy a chair like that for $31!
Pssst…Have any of you tried your hand at upholstering furniture? How did it go? Any successes? Funny failures you care to share? Please someone else tell me they struggled with it too!
So let’s pick up right where we left off. Yesterday, I revealed the new chair for the craft room, which was a remade $5 thrift store chair find.
But didn’t show you how I did it. Well, today we’re going to rectify that…a little bit…starting with the spring. The chair had a broken spring, which was one of the major reasons why the chair was so cheap! Can you see the broken spring poking through the bottom of the chair?
But before we could fix the spring, we need to un-upholster the chair. Which included a little crow bar demo.
And a couple hours or ripping and tearing and removing every shred of that hideous seventy style fabric. The staple pulling was the hardest part. They were so old and brittle that they wouldn’t come out of the wood and would break off leaving staple shards ripe for hand cutting. But we used an arsenal of utility knives, pliers, needle nose piers, and (when all else fails) hammers to take care of all those staples. (Note the Goose photo bomb…he was protecting the house from evil squirrels).
With all the upholstery fabric and padding removed, the chair spring was revealed in all it’s broken glory.
Turns out that a small piece of the metal that was nailed to the chair frame broke off. Nothing a handy hubby and a little nailing work couldn’t fix. Of course Colby fixed the spring right up…some might say he “nailed it”…har har har. Sorry.
Down to the shop the chair went where Colby worked his magic. His first step in spring fixing was getting the spring back into place, which is much harder than it looks. Springs have the incessant need to “spring” so Colby started off by zip tying it to the frame.
The zip tie almost brought the spring into the right spot so Colby could nail it into the frame. It just needed a little extra oomph…kind of like that 5’2″ basketball player trying to dunk. It just couldn’t reach and needed a little assistance.
Enter the woodworking clamp, which pulled the spring into the right spot.
With the clamp and the zip tie holding the spring in place, Colby used an electric drill to drill a couple of pilot holes into the chair frame. The chair was a hard wood, meaning just nailing in a pair of leftover roofing nails into the chair frame wouldn’t work too easily. The nails needed some help starting into the wood.
Then Colby just pounded in a couple nails into the chair frame, properly securing the frame.
With the chair spring fixed, it was painting time…booyah. And I armed myself with a couple of cans of Valspar spray paint and primer in white.
I’m thankful Colby doesn’t mind my spray painting furniture in his man cave workshop. You know…since it’s about two degrees outside and snowing. I can’t wait for
spray painting season summer.
After three thin and even coats of the white spray primer followed by three thin and even coats of spray paint, the chair was painted.
The next step was upholstering the chair which was a whole other beast of a project. I’ll save the gory details on that one until tomorrow. Let’s just say that on Sunday I cracked a beer at 11:30 and vowed to have the chair upholstered by 12:00. Four hours later, I finished it.
Pssst…So how about you guys? Find anything at a thrift store that needed a little help but was soooo worth it? Or completely underestimate how much time a project would take? I do that FAR too often!