Industrial Coffee Table

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

We've been living with a crappy IKEA Lack coffee table (you know the one that every single student buys) since before we were married four years ago. After seeing this coffee table from West Elm, and then seeing it's price tag, ($400!!!) the wheels in my head starting turning - maybe I can build something like this myself and get my dad to weld some legs?! Well that's exactly what I did last summer, with a lot of help from Tom and my family.

I decided I wanted to build the top from reclaimed barn-board, but needed to find a good cheap source for it.  Then along came my mom! She was living in Gimli Manitoba last summer and discovered the historic H.P. Tergeson & Sons general merchant store was undergoing a huge restoration of the pressed tin cladding on its facade. The restoration involved removing the original tin and 113 year old wooden panels from underneath and replacing it with specially pressed tin panels stamped from the original pattern.

As the bold confident woman that she is - my mom asked the construction crew if she could have some of the old wooden panels that were destined for the landfill. She called me and said "I found you boards for your coffee table!". I was a bit hesitant at first because I wasn't sure how we could refinish them. But after thinking about it, I got really excited about preserving some of this history and re-purposing it for our family.

We visited my parents in Gimli for a week last June and had the opportunity to work on this project. They have an awesome tool shed and barn to do the work in, and a bonus 50,000 mosquitoes biting every inch of your body! The boards were quite weathered and rough on the outside, and I didn't want the new coffee table to be a sliver-fest, so we borrowed a belt sander and planer from a family friend and got to work on making those boards look beautiful (but not before we removed every last nail so as not to damage the borrowed planer) - that's a really long sentence.

You can see this little video of my superior planing skills below.

Once the boards were planed down, we could see the beauty and character of the old nail holes and the colours that the boards had acquired from being outside for over 100 years. We had to leave Gimli at this point, so for the remainder of the summer, my dad worked on welding the steel angle-iron legs together and my mom finished off the boards with some boiled linseed oil. Thank you!

We were reunited with our beautiful boards in September, and as my birthday present we got to assemble it all together to see the finished product!

Whew! That was a lot of hard work. But I am thrilled with the result and how it looks in our new living room. It's a great conversation piece and I love having a little piece of Gimli in my home.

A huge thanks to my family for all the hard work on this project!

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  1. Seriously impressive Katie! I will be visiting frequently for ideas for our new, 70's-style apartment!

  2. Ah thanks Jen! Lots of inspiration to come I hope :)

  3. Good job. I have read your post. thank's for sharing. Most informative. Thx! , Super! Thanks especially for the video!

  4. I love happy endings! Thank goodness you and the table survived. All your hard work paid off because the tabletop looks fabulous! I need to redo our kitchen table but now I'm scared. ;)

  5. Looks great. I like this wooden project very much. It is really great idea to make our home furnished with woods. I love furniture. Also I love your table. It looks so cute. :)


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