(n.) Cabindo: A condo on a lake, among tall old trees. Half cabin, half condo. My first home. This is a running journal of the renovations, projects, and general shoestring budget craziness.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Something to interest your pallet

Ill start by saying I hate throwing potentially useful things away. Believe me, I LOVE throwing junk out. Taking arm-fulls of junk to the dumpster gives me a deep and sincere sense of accomplishment. But, if something could be recycled, repurposed, or used in another project: I horde that sucker away for future use. My place does not have a garage, so my 2nd bedroom/office has become the best place to store stuff, but I digress into matters for another day. Be warned though: ALOT of what I do is using what you/friends/family have, or what is cheap or free and available.

Onto the project at hand! I'll start with one that was fun to do and came out really well.

Rolling Pallet Box Table

she's a beauty

I knew I wanted to build a coffee table for the porch off the dining room, and had been drooling over the incredible pieces from the amazing lady woodworker over at Brooklyn to West.

oooh the chevrons and stripes

The combination of angled pieces and recycled materials really jumped out at me, and I wanted to translate that idea and feeling into a piece that worked for my home.

My dad has been helping me screen in the two porches on the back of my unit: building out the framing, cutting and installing screen, etc. (Thanks Dad!) There was some excess pressure treated 2x4 wood lying around, so I cut 12 equal lengths while the saw was out and set them aside for later. I didn't measure or draw out plans; just cut  11 pieces to match the smallest usable piece.

While on duty at the fire station the soon afterwards, I grabbed a pallet from the old fire hose graveyard, a sawz-all from the engine, and went to work dissembling said pallet. Using a metal cutting blade, I simply sawed through the nails attaching the top and bottom planks to the frame by going right between the frame and planks. Another firefighter even came over and helped me for a while when he though this was something I'd been told to do. But alas, I let him know it was just for me and finished up myself. The next time I cut pallets, I'm going to try and figure out how to secure the pallet somehow so it doesn't bounce around when sawed. Other than that, it was an easy process that produced a good number of free, character ridden boards for building a table.
I built a rectangular box frame out of the 12-2x4 pieces and attached some wheels I had on hand to the bottom. While the main use of this item will be a table, its certainly sturdy enough to work as a seat or ottoman, and since it is heavy as a horse; wheels make it easily movable for whatever job it will do.
After that, both my drill and I were outta juice, so I stopped for the night. This, to the mild disappointment of the guys who had all asked what the heck I was doing, seemed to like the idea, and wanted to see a finished table. Ah well.
Several healed blisters later, I set up my borrowed (dad's) mini-miter saw at home and went about piecing together a different pattern for each side of the box. This part of the project was seriously fun: figuring out what would work best for each side, cutting a first piece (without hitting any of the nails), attaching it to the frame with a nail or screw (depending on how warped the pallet plank was, and how many screws were left in the limited supply I had that night), then piecing together the rest of that side by; measuring, cutting, and attaching each piece.
I was a puzzle-loving kid, and this was a puzzle with power tools where I got to cut the pieces to fit??? Sold. I could make these all day.
A word of warning though: pallets may turn your hands black with some sort of tar or grime that wont scrub off. For the next week I looked like I had just come in from the fields. Thanks for taking me out to that nice dinner the next night honey....sorry I looked like Nell.

i once caught a fish thiiiiss big

Broken nails, cuts n scrapes, and paint/tar/glue/etc. covered hands, arms, and legs seem to now be a hallmark of my highly polished appearance (riiight. especially laughable on Monday mornings).

But anyway, I gave the table an all over sanding to smooth out any jutting edges and prevent splinters. The pallets' patina and texture is their main attraction though, so I definitely didn't sand the bejeebers out of the thing.
I toyed with the idea of staining either the whole table or some individual pieces with a darker color. A test with some of walnut stain on a scrap piece totally masked the interesting characteristics of the pallet wood, and just looked like crappy cheap ugly wood. No thank you. I like my cheap crappy wood to look beautiful.
To bring out the different wood tones and lightly seal the table, I gave the whole thing a quick spray with some poly-acrylic and called it a day. Acrylic or poly-acrylic is great for a no-yellowing light protective coat, and bonus for my antsy self: it dries in about 15 mins.
I may eventually do some edging with some stained or colored wooden paint stir-sticks once Home Depot recovers from an apparent run on the things. But for now it is done and living the good life on the porch, fulfilling it's table destiny and avoiding getting sent to the pallet chipper. Pheobe would be proud.

one of many DIY projects on the balcony

Pardon my lack of step-by-step pictures. That's going to haunt posts for a while. I've been a bit trigger happy over the past 2 years with this phone and filled up the memory to the point that I couldn't take any more. But, that is no longer an issue, so I can snap pictures as I go along with my phone. Perhaps I'll even get in the habit of using a real camera. Probably not for the time being. I'll definitely be farming out as much to the ├╝ber-talented Mr.Al as he'll let me. 


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