Sunday, June 7, 2015

Rustic Vanity Table 2

Over the years I have built many things for my girlfriend.  One thing that I seem to keep building for her are vanity tables.  The first one I built was when we were living in a small apartment on Long Island.


Unfortunately after building the vanity, we had no place to put it (out apartment was THAT small).  Once we moved to Arizona, one of the first things I built for her was this purple and white vanity.


This vanity was made out of particleboard and did not match the rest of the furniture that eventually filled our bedroom.  Then one day I was working on a table for our dining room - a table which didn't quite turn out the way I wanted, so I replaced the purple and white vanity with this rustic looking table.


This table holds all her stuff nicely, but sadly it's not easy for her to use - mostly because there is nowhere to put her legs.  I then went back to the purple and white vanity in an attempt to make it nicer (and match the furniture in our bedroom).


I used my hand planer to remove the purple top.


A short while after the image below was taken the whole table simply collapsed.  Apparently it wasn't strong enough to hold up to the pressure I was putting on it during sanding.  In a way I'm glad it fell apart at this point, instead of when my girlfriend was trying to apply makeup.


So I started designing a new vanity for her.  This vanity will be made out of 100% wood.


This desk is inspired by a desk seen on rogueengineer.com - but mine will be different than theirs.


As always I make my plans using Google SketchUp - which is great for figuring how much wood to get from the hardware store.


A little word about wood:  I often buy the cheapest wood from Lowes or Home Depot when working on my projects.  More often than not the wood I buy is Pine or "common wood".  This wood is great for the beginner woodworker - it's cheap, easy to cut, easy to sand and it's pretty strong.  But there are some minuses, and these have a lot to do with the store you buy them from.  Pine can easily bow and bend, has a lot of knots and very often (at the Lowes by me) has tons of staples stuck in it.


I like Pine especially because it stains very well, but I sometimes have to put a lot of work into fixing each piece up and making sure it's straight.  So after I buy the wood I try to keep it flat on the floor for a while to try and get each board as flat as possible.


The first step as always is to measure and mark all the pieces.


Larger pieces of wood get cut at the table saw.


Whereas smaller pieces get cut at the miter saw.


After a while I had all my large...


...and small pieces cut.


Next I will start working on the legs - which will have several curved cuts in it.


I drew these lines onto one of the boards for the legs...


...and cut it out with the jig saw.


Next I used the cut piece as a template on the other leg boards.



Once the shapes were made I began drilling pocket holes into the leg boards.


And I completed assembling the legs with pocket screws.



With the pocket hole jig out I began making the bottom shelves next  - which will connect the the outer and inner legs together.


The shelves were assembled with pocket screws.


I also then assembled the bottom of the desk using more pocket holes & screws.


At this point it was time to begin sanding everything - especially the curved parts in the leg that I cut earlier.


Once everything was sanded I marked the positions on the legs where the boards will be connected.


Then I began connecting the shelves to the inner and outer legs.



Then I connected the legs to the bottom.


And I flipped it over.


So far it's strong, but I have made the bottom of the vanity a bit too close to the ground.  When I sit in the chair the top of my legs touch the bottom of the vanity.  I will have to fix this later.


The last thing I did for the night was add the 2 supports for the table top.  


These supports will help hold up the Vanity Top.


After that I called it a night, and went to bed.  The next morning I thought of how to raise the desk up higher without many drastic changes.  After much thinking I figured out a way.  First I cut some leftover board to make some new shelves.


Then I assembled those shelves with pocket holes and screws.


Then I unattached the legs/shelves from the table top.


I then attached the new shelves I made where the table top once was.


Then I cut more wood to raise the other side of the inner legs.  Now both sides of each leg are the same height.


Next I reattached the table top using screws (..actually this is the table bottom).


Now the height of the table is perfect.  Plenty of room for my legs underneath.


But it's time to add more.  From here forward everything is being made kind of spur of the moment.  I cut some pieces of wood and added pocket holes in each piece.  These will be supports for the actual table top.


Then I attached them to the table bottom.


Next I added pocket holes to the boards that make up the actual table top.


And I attached the boards with pocket screws.


Once together I trimmed the board with my circular saw.


Then I attached the table top to the supports with screws.


I wanted the sides and back of the table top to have a little wall to keep some of my girlfriend's stuff from falling off the vanity.  I didn't want just a square wall, so I drew a design on some wood...


...and cut it out with the jig saw.


I used the first piece as a template to make a second piece.


I kept the discarded pieces of wood from these cuts.  I'll get back to them later.


Next I sanded the cut pieces of wood.


Before I attach them to the table top, I gave everything another round of sanding.


I focused mostly on the table top so that I can attach these walls.  The 2 cut pieces will go on the sides.


They'll attach to the table top with screws from underneath.


Once both sides were on I cut a piece for the back and attached it with pocket holes/screws.


Remember those scrap pieces of cut wood from before?  I glued and nailed them to the center of the back wall - giving it a nice, decorative look.


Next I wanted to add backs to the leg areas.  To do this I cut some thin plywood to size...


...and nailed them to the backs of each leg.


Now there is a lot of storage space for my girlfriend, and nothing will fall off the table top or the back of each leg.


Then I did a little more sanding.


This thing is looking great!



After admiring my work for a little while, I then added some wood filler to the many spots that needed them.


While the filler dried I started measuring wood for the drawers.  Originally there was to be only 1 drawer in the middle.  With the changes I made I decided to make 2 smaller drawers instead.


I cut the wood with my miter saw.


Then I assembled the frames using glue and brad nails.


I cut some thin plywood down to the size of the frames.


Then I nailed the plywood to the frames...


...making 2 nice drawers.


Next I wanted drawer fronts, so I cut some more wood...


...and sanded/rounded all the edges.


Then I attached the drawers to the fronts using screws.


The fronts are great but need some knobs.


So I drew guides and drilled a hole in the center of the fronts.


Then attached the knobs.


Drawers done!



I still wanted to add a few decorative elements, so I went through my scrap wood.  these rounded pieces are leftover from when I cut the leg shapes.


I sanded each of the rounded shapes...


...and I glued/nailed 2 to the bottom of the shelves...


...and I glued/nailed 2 to the sides.


I still want to add a slight bit of roundness to the front...


So I used more leftover pieces from the leg scraps and sanded.


Then I glued/nailed these pieces to the front corners.


Now there's a bit of shape in this area.


Finally it's time to sand.  This took hours.


For tight spots I stapled sand paper to a wood block.


This made it easy to sand areas that my power sanders couldn't fit in.


After about 2 hours of sanding I think this thing is done!


Next I cleaned and prepped for staining.


Since I only want to stain the drawer fronts and not the drawers themselves, I removed the fronts and put the rest of the drawers aside.


Then staining began.  I started with the tops and sides...


...then worked on the bottoms...


...and drawer fronts.


I decided for this project to use Satin Clear Coat spray enamel.  Since there are so many hard to reach spots I thought spraying would be easier...


...and a lot less messier!  I wound up wearing a lot of stain on my arms.


The only problem is that the spray on clear coat very often leaves fuzzies and attracts dust.


But they easily go away when sanding.  For the rounded edges and tight spots I used some grade 0000 steel wood.


And on the larger surfaces I used very fine sandpaper on my mouse sander...


...and my random orbital sander.


After what felt like an eternity of sanding, I cleaned up the vanity with a damp cloth.


And it's looking great!



Next I decided to apply some furniture wax.


It's been a while since I've used this stuff.  I forgot how nice things look after using it.


Lastly I added some hooks on both sides.


These hooks are ideal for long necklaces that don't fit well in my girlfriend's jewelry boxes or hangers.


Next my girlfriend and I moved out the old vanity and put the new one in place.


Then she set it up with all her stuff.  And we're done!


Thank God the chair slides under the table.  For too long that chair was in the middle of the very important walkway that leads to the bathroom.



I am actually very pleased with how this vanity table turned out.  I admittedly am also a bit jealous...  This table could make a good drawing table or computer table for my office.  The quality of work I am producing is getting much better than stuff I made even a year ago.  I think I will have to remake some of my older stuff.  But for the time being I'll be quite happy that my girlfriend finally has a nice and proper vanity table.


Thanks for reading!

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