Monday, February 17, 2014

Lath Table and Upgraded Kitchen Nook

A few years ago, Willi and I purchased a hacked together kitchen island that had a coat of white primer on it and a partially fitted Corian top. It was very function and sturdy but hardly easy on the eyes. Eventually it was going to have to go or be upgraded.

Since we moved to Oakland, I've lusted after Ariel Alasko's tables but they are sadly not in our budget. After a while of lusting and studying her tables, I set out to make our own lath top to upgrade the old kitchen island. We went at to the Heritage Salvage in Pataluma (one of my favorite places to go for any wood project!) and got a bunch of old lath, looking for any pieces with interesting milling, paint, and weathering. Measuring the top of the kitchen island, I bought a piece of plywood on which to affix the lath pattern.

As I don't have the fancy woodworking tools that Ariel (or most experienced wood workers likely have) I bought this miter box, which worked but was a lot of work to make each cut. Eventually, we used the box to line up lath, clamped several at a time, removed the lath from the box, and used the circular saw to make the cut--much faster and about as accurate at the miter box. To those of you who might think to attempt this at home, there will be a difference between the cuts of a professional woodworker (like Ariel) using his/her tools and those made by you using this miter box. I decided to call the small fractional degree differences "rustic" and lending to the charm of the final result. 

Here's the design as I'm laying down the wood, sketching the design, and starting to glue the pieces down. 

One of the challenges I had was the lath wasn't all cut the same width and height so sometimes it felt a bit like fitting a square peg into a round hole. Again, I decided to believe the resulting spaces between pieces and uneven surfaces created a "rustic" look. 

I also sanded down the kitchen island base to show off some of the wood underneath. I left some of the white paint on the table knowing that once I put the poly on, it would like quite nice...and well, rustic. Sadly, I didn't take pictures of this in between state, but image: sander, table, and Jacky with lots of sawdust all over her. 

Once the bottom table had been sanded and the top had been covered in it's lath pattern, I placed the lath covered plywood on top only to realize that the board had warped every so slightly--the top was no longer a perfect fit! You can just see the slight overhang in the photo below. 

Willi, aka the best person ever, devised a plan to cut a small section out of thicker lath pieces by making two careful cuts. These cut pieces of lath would then sit on the extra top bits like a little shelf. Phew! I didn't want to have to go back to the miter box again...

Which brings us to this weekend: finishing time! My first step was to lightly sand the table top and clean off the rest of the table with a damp cloth to prep for the first poly coat. Thankfully, I used quick drying Minwax, water based spray and only had to wait 30 minutes between each coat. Three coats later, the table was looking mighty fine!  

In the end, I decided the top could use one more coat (the wood was a bit rougher to begin with and was going to be the most used surface). 

 And today, I set up the table in the breakfast nook.

And see those chairs? The breakfast nook can finally be, well, a breakfast nook!

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