Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Trash (and Dirt) to Treasure

So when we moved to Corvallis we had not a stick of furniture. In our last place we picked up some cheap stuff at WabiSabi, but we decided from the get go here that anything we could build we were going to try a hand at it. Of course that went out the window once we realized it would mean we had to sit and sleep on the floor for a looooong time. Not to mention that the last place we were in was maybe 400 square feet. Now our place is 1100 - so big that to this day we have not even started to use one of the bedrooms.

So after a project where we made a bookcase by building a series of differently-sized boxes and stacking them, we decided to take on what Jason thought to be a nice, simple endeavor. Making a coffee table.

Yeah - not so easy!

The materials were mostly reclaimed. The top an old cupboard door, and legs old newel posts from The ReBuilding Center. Some of the other pieces were bought new. The plan was to build the table, and then put a cob mosaic in the top where the cupboard door is recessed.

Jason definitely struggled with putting it all together. A novice carpenter with poor tools, he came pretty close on a couple of occasions to pitching one part or another into the street. In a Facebook posting of the final product he stated "I am pretty proud of the final product. It came out quite well. I must say thanks again to Clare from preventing me from setting fire to the early process and they guy at Home Depot for the pointers."

The design is pretty basic, and he would be happy to send it to you if you were interested. Here's a pic of what it looked like after sanding, cutting, and assembling.

The next step was staining the wood. The making of the stains is in another blog posting. One thing I was surprised by was how pale the stain became once it dried.

The cob mosaic was the next step. We played with a bunch of ideas initially including broken pottery and recycled tiles, but eventually decided on river rock. Jason got the rocks while on a hike, and we set them on the table loose for day playing with design ideas until Jason came up with this one.

The cob was simple though we had to purchase the sand to make it. For those of you who don't know, cob is a mixture of clay, sand, and straw. The straw provides tensile strength, sand is used for an aggregate, and clay serves to bind it all together. It has been used to build homes and other structures for centuries. When Jason does natural building, he is most often using cob. Though the cob is poured around the stones, I will say that they were first glued down with wood glue.

Finally, I completed the project (Jason headed off to his new internship) by painting the whole thing with linseed oil to seal it. I did one coat on the wood, and two on the cob. The linseed oil strengthens and seals the cob. It also brought out the color of the stain again!

All in all it is a beautiful project!!!

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