Monday, March 7, 2016

DIY hat rack out of old pitchfork

 I have accumulated my share of hats, and its a good thing too because between my husband and kids they get pretty beaten up and destroyed.  Ok, if I'm honest, I do my fair share of wear and tear too.  I made a coat and hat rack out of discarded railroad spikes and some old barn boards (easy enough to make with some spikes, a drill and a drill bit that is just a bit smaller in diameter than the spikes-maybe I'll show how to do that project if there is any interest).  Yet, I still wanted another hat rack for my special cowboy hats.
   I went walking about to see what I could find in a few of my favorite scrap piles and discovered a broken off end of a pitchfork that was missing the 2 middle tines.  Perfect!  I love re-using, re-claiming and re-purposing!

I was going for rustic and simple so I dug out an old weathered piece of scrap lumber, used my chop saw to even out some rough ends and made a square-ish base to attach the pitch fork end to.
     After considering several methods to attach the pitchfork end to my base I went with the most simple idea I had.

 I measured the diameter of the metal end where the wooden handle would normally jut out, found a drill bit just barely that size and drilled a hole through the center of my square little board.  Next I took a rubber mallet and tapped the metal end into the hole.  It was surprisingly very snug and very stable!

Now I decided I wanted the old metal and old wood to shine so I sprayed it with some clear lacquer and waited for it to dry.
     Once it was dry I drilled a few holes in my base so that I could mount it to my wall easily with a couple of screws.

     Done!  It was a blast to make and I love how it looks above my rake head that doubles as my chaps, spurs and scarves holder!

Friday, March 4, 2016

DIY make your own old-fashioned/faux antique child's desk out of reclaimed/repurposed materials

My version of a faux-antique , old- fashioned child's desk
 When I was growing up, my mom had a tiny, antique student desk that all of us kids loved to sit in.  It was sturdy and built to last and was perfect for drawing, writing, coloring,... you name it.  It still is today as my children love to sit in it and play when we visit Grandma.  I had looked all over trying to find one like it in size and construction and, frankly, had given up.  It is just awesome and apparently, "one-of-a-kind."  Recently I decided my little ones still need a desk like that, so I began hunting around for one and once again, came up empty (or way out of my price range).  So I had the thought, maybe I can build something similar on my own and make it look a little like the antique I wanted using mostly second hand materials and old odds and ends.
I hunted around and found a beaten up and broken up, homemade children's chair that my mother had rescued from somewhere.  Hmmmm.   I started thinking that maybe starting from a second-hand, small child's chair would be perfect for the size and budget range I was looking for.  I pulled the chair in to my house and got measuring, brainstorming and designing.  This blog is simply what I did- an easy project to make an antique looking, old fashioned children's desk out of a second hand children's chair using re-purposed lumber and inexpensive hardware.  I believe the basics of this design will work for most children's chairs, second-hand or new, be they of wood construction or metal.
     1st I made a trip to my mother's and took measurements of the small desk.  I returned home and put together a design based on the classic desk, but tweaked to fit what I had on hand.  I took a walk through my favorite scrap wood piles and brought back my loot to see what I could salvage and utilize.
     2nd I started taking my little second-hand chair apart very carefully.  The back rest and seat had been made of very thin plywood and much of the construction was wobbly and inadequate for the sturdiness I needed.  I had found a few great scraps of boards that would lend themselves to a new seat, backrest and desktop as well as a nice 2x2 piece that I could use to re-enforce the wobbly legs. (Just a quick side note here: If you are just looking for a quick and simple child's desk without the antique look, you can use just about any building material that you have on hand or some inexpensive plywood and paint it all up nicely and you've got it. Or you could paint the desktop with a chalkboard/blackboard finish for a unique and fun chalk-art desktop.  Use what you've got and have fun with it!)
3rd I measured and cut each piece to length and spec. with my chop saw and jigsaw.  Then I took my grinder, (still my favorite power tool!), put a flap pad sanding attachment on and smoothed and rounded edges.  That done I decided to use my grinder to hollow out a seat depression and add some curvature to the backrest as well.
4th it was time to put this thing together!  I decided to pre-drill the spots where I would put screws in to avoid splintering or splitting. When I took apart the chair, I kept the frame intact and just removed the arm rests, seat and backrest-so I just replaced those parts with my new ones and added my new bracing pieces to the legs at the bottom.
     5th With the chair back together, it was time to put on my attached desktop!   First I bought a large metal corner brace that was almost the width of my desktop to use as the support for my desk.  It didn't have pre-drilled holes where I needed them to be so I drilled a few more of my own and painted it black for an older look.  
(Doing a few gentle sprays with some rust colored browns and orange spray paints added to the black creates a very nice antique and or old metal look.  I have used this little mix on other projects with great results but for now I decided to just stick with the black to see how it would look!)     I attached the corner brace to the little chair leg and surveyed the result.
6th With the brace attached it was time to put the final piece in place!  I pre-drilled the areas where my screws would go on the arm of the desktop (and where it would screw into the back of the chair) as well as underneath the desktop to attach to the corner brace, and got to work. I used whatever screws I could dig up in my tool boxes and so I ended up with a smattering of all kinds of shapes, widths, lengths and head types. No one has noticed that and I think it adds to the charm of my little project.  (As soon as I had it together, my little boy gave it a test drive! Truth be told so did everyone else, little and not so little.  It was sturdy and strong- no wiggling!)  
     7th The only thing left were the final touches of staining, lacquer and black metal paint touch-ups.  Here again you can choose any paint style.  I wanted mine to look like an old fashioned child's desk or antique so I picked up a dark stain (walnut I think) & started sanding.

 I didn't do a very thorough job sanding (any wood craftsman would be appalled) but like I said I wanted it to appear old with lots of imperfections and signs of use.  If I was going to do a good job of it, i would have probably taken it apart and carefully sanded every piece.  I didn't and I'm happy with my quick job.  I also wanted a small amount of "distress" on my desk as any antique or well-used piece of wooden furniture will certainly have.   I decided to let my toddler "play" on the desk and utilize it as much as his little heart desired for a few days to do some "distressing" for me.  (If he was a bit more gentle than his usual self I would help it along with a few soft whacks, scrapes and pokes from different simple tools like my screw driver, a bolt, a thumb tack, etc.  - I usually let my kids participate in any "distressing" projects I have as the job goes faster and is considerably more random- plus they enjoy getting permission to do things that they get in trouble for otherwise!) 

Next I got to staining.  It was cold outside so I hurried. Again, I figured it didn't need to be perfect.  Once it had dried (mostly anyway) I did a little sanding on the edges with a little piece of sandpaper to give the effect of wear and tear.
Next it was time to hit it with some clear lacquer to make it shine and seal it up a bit.  (Its also easier to wipe off food and drink spills when its got a nice coat of lacquer!)  Once it was dry it was finally finished!  Im a lousy photographer but you get the idea.  The kids love it as do my husband and I.  I hope your project is as rewarding!