Monday, November 21, 2011

One Night Stand

Today I am celebrating.  I have a new nightstand!  That may not sound very exciting, but what I was using before was pretty shady (and that one's not a pun).  A few years ago I found a very small table that I loved, but had no use for and it became my nightstand.  I think plant stand might be a better name for it.  Are you getting how small it actually was?  Well, after not having enough room for the lamp and a book for a while I found a solution.  I decided that the glass from a large picture frame found at the GoodWill would suffice as a table topper and add several inches of space to every side.  The size was fine, but that's when the abusive relationship with the table began.  I cannot even tell you how many times I sliced my finger on the glass top.  (Like I said, shady.)  The photo is from our last house as I do not have any pictures of it in the new house, but it was the same setup; cute, but dusty and unsafe.

Well, after several years of that nonsense I finally decided to take matters into my own hands and build myself a new nightstand.  I know I could have bought one that looked exactly like it for cheaper than I made it, but making things is so much more fun!  I started by measuring out the space I wanted it to fill and then I put pencil to paper and drew up a quick plan.  Then it sat.  And sat and sat and sat, until one weekend I decided to pull the trigger and build the sucker.  I knew I wanted a bookshelf and nightstand combo and I had found this inspiration photo on Pinterest while the building plans sat and I knew precisely the colors I wanted to use for it.  Everything was ready to go.

Building it took very little time and Aaron and I had all the cutting and construction done the same afternoon we started.  We had some of the cutting done at the Home Depot so the materials would actually fit into the car and when we got home we just needed to measure to make sure it all had been cut properly.  Once we had the remainder of the cuts made, we pre-drilled some holes in the wood where the screws would go so the wood wouldn't split.  Aaron went the extra step and drilled some larger holes around the smaller holes so we could countersink the screws for a more seamless look.  Once that was done I screwed the sides together.  We should have used wood glue in the seams, but we thought we were going to take it apart at some point during the project so we skipped it.  (We never did take it apart so we didn't end up using any wood glue after all.)
Next we notched out the middle shelves with the jigsaw so we could slide the two together in a cross pattern.  We figured this would probably be the strongest way to deal with the middle shelves without adding too much unsightly hardware to the shelf.  Then we just slid the shelves into the sides and set up for some more drilling and screwing in order to secure the middle shelves in place.

Again, we drilled shallow large holes with deeper, smaller holes in the middle so we could countersink the screws.  Aaron has a great trick for drilling to specific depths.  He simply puts a piece of tape around the drill bit at the depth he wants to stop drilling so when the tape gets to the surface you are drilling, you know to stop.  Brilliant!  Since the wood shelves were not exactly straight we had to use the rubber mallet to bang things into place to line up the screws.  Aaron had to hold the shelves in place while I put the final screws in.
 The next step was adding some plugs where we had countersunk the screws for that seamless look.  Aaron simply cut some small pieces off of a dowel that matched the size of the hole and we used wood glue to secure those in place.  We purposely left the dowel pieces a bit taller than the surface of the shelf so I could come in after the glue dried to sand it all to a smooth finish. (That came later though.)  Finally, I stapled some 3/4" trim on the front and a large piece of very thin plywood on the back to finish up construction.

The last step of the day was to fill in all the holes and any seams that weren't a perfect fit with wood putty.  It had to dry overnight in preparation for a final sanding so we retired for the night.  That's when the rain set in.  The next morning when I got up it was raining and the forecast showed that the cool, damp weather was likely going to hang around the remainder of the week.  So I did what I could and got everything sanded.

My plans for painting went out the window at that point.  The humidity was too high for the paint to cure properly and I did not want a sticky and peeling paint job.  So again, it sat.  We finally had a few dry days last week and I got it all primed.  After that dried for a day or so I was able to move on with the project.

At some point during the planning process I had sourced and priced gold leaf and found that it was prohibitively expensive so I formulated (and moved on to) Plan B.  The knobs on my dresser are partially made from antiqued brass so I decided to go the metallic spray paint route and I chose a color called Burnished Brass from the Rustoleum Metallic Collection.  The first can ran out mysteriously fast so I took it back to the HD and explained the situation.  They allowed me to switch it out with a new can, no questions asked, and I was on my merry way.  I wanted to take advantage of the dry weather so I laid on a light and then a wet coat, as directed by the manufacturer, with horrible results.  I thought maybe once dry it would look better.  I was wrong.

I went out the next day to find a splotchy, uneven paint job.  I looked online to see if anyone else had had similar problems with this particular paint and found that for some a third coat did the trick.  I sprayed on my third coat and hoped for the best.  It was not better.  The metallic bits had a shiny finish in some place and a matte finish in others.  I was pretty upset at this point so there is a lack of photos for this part of the project.  Since the brass paint was only for the inside of the shelf I decided to put my frustration aside and move on to the front edges, top and sides of the shelf.

The previous owners left around 30 cans of paint in the garage when they left; however, many of the cans had never been resealed after use and were completely ruined and rotten.  One of the few remaining cans was a quart of dark teal paint in a satin finish that I have used for a few other projects around the house already.  The color is Dark Fern by Behr.  I think it was left by the owners before our previous owners as nothing in the house was painted that color and it was actually sealed up properly before it was stored.  Fortunately, Behr never lets me down and the first coat went on flawlessly.  I waited the proper amount of dry time in between coats and got a second coat on that evening, finishing up that portion of the project.

There was one more tool in my arsenal I had yet to try for the inside of the shelves.  Once again, I went to the menagerie of things left by the old owners and came up with a can of gold spray paint.  With a last ditch effort I sprayed on a coat over the failed attempt at brass spray paint and to my surprise it didn't look completely horrible.  It had covered a lot of the splotchiness, but the weird sheen dilemma remained.  I let that dry and sprayed one more coat.  Again, more splotchiness gone, but still the shiny/matte sheen problem.  After some strong reasoning with myself,  I came to the conclusion that no one would notice the sheen problem since it was on the inside of the shelves, which I would eventually fill with book and such.  Plus, it would be in the far corner of the bedroom so many people would never even see it anyway.

I am happy to report that it is dry and inside, functioning wonderfully!  It came out pretty close to what I had envisioned so I'm calling it a success.  To be honest I actually prefer the light look of the other table to the heaviness of the new shelves, but this new nightstand is so much more functional (and less abusive) than the original.  I also found a new lamp in September so the purple lamp was passed to Aaron's side of the bed and I got the more girly of the two.  I'm sure you can also see that two of the four shelves are empty, but that won't last long as we almost always have more books than shelf space.  They will be full before you know it. 
I will forever be on the lookout for cheap gold leaf.  Some day I know I'm going to come across a sale rack and spot it, gleaming out at me from under a pile of scrapbook stickers.  I will bring it home and finish this project once and for all.  But until then, I have a new nightstand!

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