One of the biggest hurdles Husband and I have experienced since moving into our 180 year old home (besides updating 1800’s structural damage) is deciding what kind of furniture to put into our first home. We agree that we want to keep things rustic, moderately time-specific, and simplistically elegant. We also want to build as much ourselves as we safely can so this was my first and biggest DIY endeavor yet!
I needed a desk big enough for crafting and organizing and I couldn’t find anything at the local unfinished wood furniture stores. Lam Brothers is an amazing local business with tons of high quality unfinished furniture and I can’t wait to get my hands on one of their pieces soon. But, for this project, I couldn’t find a desk or dining table long enough to suit my needs. I wanted a table that was at least 8-10 feet long! I also had a difficult time finding free tabletop design plans on Pinterest (most included the legs or were far beyond my capabilities). So, I decided to wing it and make my own tabletop with wood boards.
Step 1 – Go Shopping
Lowe’s is our closest home supply store so that’s where we get most of our DIY supplies. I made Husband accompany me because I’ve found I’m not very good at articulating what I’m looking for to the sales associates, “that flat metal thingy with holes,” … blank stare.
We bought a couple extra boards and had them cut to use for shelving in our closet (new post on this soon!). We barely squeezed everything into my tiny Buick Encore (because Husband refused to even try to use his car).
Step 2 – Sand the Boards
Neither Husband nor I realized we’d need a sawhorse or two in order to sand the boards until after we got back home. Instead of driving the 20 minutes back to the store we tried some sad improvisation and got to work. I had only planned to sand the edges but there was some stamped writing on almost every side so I/we sanded every surface.
This only took about an hour to get all three boards done but the sun was setting so we pulled the boards onto the deck and called it a day. I immediately ordered two sawhorses from Lowe’s during their Black Friday sale because our upside-down chair idea was pretty pitiful.
Step 3 – Assemble the Boards
There were some learning opportunities in this step and I won’t hide them! We decided it was better to assemble all three boards together before we treated and stained them. It started snowing outside so we laid down a tarp in the back entry to protect our original hardwood floors. We applied the liquid nails to the sides of each board and pushed them together.
We secured a vice to each end and tightened so it would have a strong seal. While I was at work the next day, Husband decided to test it so we had to repeat this process the next evening. He was also responsible for re-sanding the sides to remove the hardened chunks of wood glue before we could try to re-glue/vice. Note: let the liquid nails set for 24 hours before moving!
Step 4 – Condition the Boards
I had never heard of this step before so thankfully I read the directions on the can of stain while we were in the store and bought some. We used the tarp to avoid getting the dark stain on the deck. The new sawhorses arrived and worked beautifully compared to the plastic chairs.
The conditioner is very thin and easy to maneuver (plus it’s getting covered up so I wasn’t really worried on how well I distributed it). I tried a foam brush at first but didn’t like it so I used a regular paint brush for oil-based paint. It took about 5 minutes to pre-treat all three boards. Wait 15-20 minutes for it to soak in and then you can paint on the wood stain. You have to paint the stain on within two hours of applying the pre-treatment too.
The two boards to the right have been pre-treated and the board on the left is still un-treated. It definitely makes a difference immediately! We let it dry for about 20 minutes and brought it in the house to put on top of the barrels and test the length/stability.
Cat tested too!
Step 5 – Stain the Boards
The boards need two layers of the wood stain and it takes about 4-6 hours before you can apply the second coat. Our learning opportunity – stain the sides first because the dripping over the edge was clearly visible. I honestly still haven’t gotten much better at this step because I always have at least some small drippings that are noticeable and even with extra coats of stain I can’t cover it. We used Red Oak 215 so the wood was a little darker than our hardwood floors but you could still see the imperfections in the wood (which I like). Allow a minimum of 8 hours for the stain to dry before applying the clear coat.
Step 6 – Apply Polyurethane
We applied two coats of the stain (one in the morning and one in the evening) and let it dry overnight. When I got home from work the next day I applied the polyurethane (henceforth “poly”) and let it dry overnight again. We could have applied a second coat of the poly but I didn’t want it to look too smooth and finished. I love rustic and rough so one layer was perfect.
Step 7 – Assemble Tabletop and Wine Barrels
I’ll be honest, we forgot a step at this point. We had bought brackets (metal thingies with holes) that I had fully intended to spray paint a dark color to give it that Restoration Hardware style. I’m going to blame Husband for storing them behind a box of books so I forgot about them. By the time we had done everything else and had put the tabletop on top of the wine barrels I really didn’t feel like painting the brackets and securing them to the ends of the tabletop. This will definitely make the top more secure as one solid piece, so I’ll do it eventually 🙂
We haven’t figured out how to actually secure the boards to the barrels so the tabletop is simply resting on top. It’s very heavy though so it hasn’t been an issue.
Here’s the finished product!
I really do love it. I love the amount of space it gives me to do multiple projects at once. I was working on a framing project on one side, blogging in the middle, and organizing paperwork on the other. For my moderately ADD brain, being able to do multiple projects at once is amazing!
The barrels are pretty high so I needed to get a counter-height chair. I found a Low Back Counter Stool at Target that works perfectly because I can push it under the desk and keep the walk-thru area clear (did I mention this is actually in our back entryway?). I love it!