Friday, February 1, 2013

card catalog display coffee table

Click here for a full tutorial and materials list

Let's start at the very beginning. I'm not a hoarder, but I do have a few . . . collections. An art school dilettante, I took classes from every possible area of interest. Printmaking had a hold of me for awhile, and spinning. A couple of courses in letterpress printing inspired my collection of vintage wooden type. The Mister and I even built a little printing press awhile back, but it's been untouched since the birth of my kiddo. But that's not where this project started. The wood block top was an afterthought.

This particular upcycling project (a card catalog coffee table that displays my collection of wooden type in the top) started with a row of card catalog drawers I picked up at Goodwill awhile back. I like Goodwill. Among thrift stores they're organized, clean, and priced right (locally, anyway). And once in awhile, they have things that jump out of nowhere and surprise you, like a row of card catalog drawers hidden among busted wicker furniture.

I spied the antique wooden bobbins (legs) at the Pendleton Woolen Mill Store in Portland. They're retired from the mill and are 80+ years old, their solid wood soaked through with lanolin from the wool. I didn't bring home enough, so I phoned them up a few weeks back and asked them to ship me some for this project, which they were sweet enough to do. The shipping cost almost as much as the bobbins, but it was totally worth it.

The hardware for attaching the legs to the card catalog came from the rebuilding store. Two were still in their ruined packages, missing only the screws; two were dug out of a bin of other hardware bits, used but useable, like everything there. I had to drill into the metal to attach them to the bobbins, which I'd expected (the center of the bobbins being hollow and all). Once those were sturdily attached, I propped the table base upright and started trying to think of what to put on the top.

After considering several possibilities, I decided to use the table to display my collection of vintage wooden type. The exposed drawer supports allowed me to use some leftover tag board to create an inset space I filled with part of my collection. To protect it, I covered the top with a piece of plexiglass that was leftover from a store I ran for awhile. One of the folks at my local builders' supply store cut it down to size for me when I brought it to them measured and marked. Thank you, guy at the cut table!

I used some old game pieces to support the edge and then rounded up some trim pieces at the (other) rebuilding store (it was 25 cents for a 3-foot length of mill seconds) to trim the edge and hold the plexiglass in place. I attached the trim with silver wire nails and then stained it with a Tee Juice pen to match. 

The final step: I typed up some labels for the drawers on my vintage typewriter.

I've seen some furniture made from card catalogs on Pinterest, and I've seen a couple of coffee tables with wooden type collages set in the top. Because I plan to actually use my wooden type for printing, I notched the trim along the back of the table so that the plexiglass top can be removed easily to access the wood blocks. The rest of the time, this lovely stuff isn't locked up in a bin anymore, and we get to enjoy it! Woohoo!

(Bonus: my collection of old house numbers fits around the edge . . . with room to keep adding.) 

This is one of those projects that makes me happy just looking at it. I hope you like it, too!

Click here for the full tutorial and materials list!

Linking up to:
Young Heart, Old Soul

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