How to create a stunning, one-off dining table from old, salvaged floorboards., as seen on Cracking Antiques
It’s true what they say – one person’s trash really can be another person’s treasure. Creating beautiful custom pieces from secondhand and recycled materials is becoming more popular than ever. It’s often cheaper than buying new furniture, it helps to ease the demand for new products and it reduces landfill because you are re-using what other people don’t want. If you’re not into carpentry, you can do what Kathryn in the show did and hire a chippy for the day – this can still be cheaper than buying new furniture if you can negotiate a good price on the materials.
How to buy secondhand or recycled building materials
There are actually quite a lot of places that sell salvaged and reclaimed materials to the general public. A new purely online marketplace just for this purpose has been set up called salvagebazaar.com.au and it takes away the geographical difficulty of searching out these items. Ebay and the classifieds are other good options – sometimes you can even get materials for free if you pick them up! If you’re going to the yards, our tips are to bring a tape measure, know what material and size you are after and pay in cash to get the best deal.
5 sites to visit if you’re interested in buying secondhand building materials:
1. Find suitable floorboards for your purpose. Think about the size and material you would like and why. Use a tape measure for accuracy.
2. Decide on how you’re going to treat the wood. If you find some lovely oak boards like Kathryn did, you probably won’t want to paint them because you will want to make a feature of the lovely light coloured wood, however if you’re using something plain like pine, painting is recommended.
3. Get the wood treated for woodworm and sprayed with a special insecticide. This will ensure that you don’t bring any woodworm into your house.
4. Any nails and metallic junk that may have acquired in the wood over the years will need to be removed. Carpenters often use a metal detector to find out where they are and then remove them.
5. Once the nails and metal bits have been removed, the planks are put through a plane. Removing a layer from the wood’s surface reinvigorates the appearance of the wood, revealing the beauty of the grain underneath and lightening the shade of the wood. Be careful not to remove too many layers though as you may lose some of the ‘shabbiness’ you’re after – remember that dips, holes and wear marks often give wood its character.
6. The main focus of shabby chic dining tables is usually the rustic table top. For this reason, Kathryn purposefully designed very plain, modern looking legs.
7. Once the planks are secured to the base, the legs can be painted. Kathryn chose to paint the legs in an off-white matt finish that provided a contrast to the oak table-top.
8. Seal the wood table-top. There are 3 options when it comes to sealing wood – you can varnish it, wax it or use Danish Oil. Kathryn warned against using varnish which she said could be harsh and too shiny, even if you use a matt one and she also cautioned that wax tends to get smudgy and can stain. Her preferred finish is Danish Oil because it protects the wood, smells delicious and brings out all the lovely colours in the wood. Danish Oil is easy to use – simply mix it 50/50 with white spirits so it can really sink into the hard grain.
9. Paint the table-top and leave it for about 20-30 seconds. Then buff it off, rubbing it into the grain.
10. Do as many coats as you can manage, about 6 or 7. To maintain the colour and enhance the patina of the wood, you should repeat this process every 6 months or so.
By Gael Damianakis