While shopping with my daughter-in-law, Steph, at a yard sale last summer we spied this great rack. I had no idea what it was, but I saw coffee table!
I didn’t buy it. I was just about to ask the price when Steph tells me that her dad had one just like it in his basement. It was leftover furniture from her grandmother who had used it as a drying rack. At least I think that was the story…all I heard was blah, blah, blah..you can have it.
It’s been 8 months but I finally had my hands on this piece of history. I still see a coffee table, but I didn’t quite remember the support bar in the middle.
The bench, wash stand, drying rack…whatever you want to call it…had a great design. When it was not in use it folds up almost flat.
I had a feeling that there may have been more to this bench than meets the eye. What gave me the first clue was that the writing was cut off and the cut was not quite smooth on the middle support.
After a little research, I found that this wasn’t just a bench, it used to have a wringer attachment in the middle. What I think you did with it is, you would have two buckets, one on either side. One side had wet clothes, send the clothes thru the wringer to another bucket on the other side.
I also found where you can still buy a “modern” wringer washtub stand. Kind of cool, but I’m pretty sure I’m not going to give up my electric washer and dryer.
There wasn’t any varnish left to strip, but the wood on this poor thing was crying out for help. Since I had a container of Restor-a-finish, I thought I would start there. Look how much prettier the wood looked after just rubbing this stuff on with a rag.
In order to make this guy into a coffee table, I needed a flat surface and those brackets in the middle were definitely in the way.
The brackets weren’t just screwed on…are those rivets? Whatever they were they had to be cut off with a metal cutter.
The bracket was finally off. All the rusty looking metal was painted black but I left the galvanized metal corner brackets alone.
A little tall for a coffee table, so all the legs were chopped off 2 inches, the same angle as they were before. The middle support was also cut down to the same level as the new bench. I also cut the side pieces where they met the middle support, so the new coffee table wouldn’t be quite as long as the old bench.
What you don’t see from this picture is a dowel that was on the upper part of the wringer frame was moved to the lower part of the middle support.
For extra support, nailed a couple of brackets to the inside of the frame before screwing back on the outer, more decorative brackets.
Frame is complete, level, and surprisingly sturdy. I did end up staining the inside brackets to more closely match the frame.
Moving onto the top, I started out by cutting a frame out of 1×4 lumber. I cut 2, 43″ and 2, 19″ pieces, mitered at the corners. You could also just make straight cuts, the choice is yours.
Before attaching the frame I beat it up a little. With the base being so old, I wanted the frame to have a little wear and tear too.
The frame was attached with wood glue and finishing nails then stained a dark walnut.
Pallet wood was cut to fit inside the frame. Try to find all the same thickness of pallet wood, though they can be different widths.
The pallet wood was attached with finishing nails from a nail gun.
Sand the top to remove any splinters and uneven wood.
Some blue chalk paint was roughly painted on.
Painted over my blues with black chalk paint.
Sanded, to reveal some of those layers, then waxed.
I wasn’t even gonna finish this side of the top but I really liked the wood so why not give a choice.
For this side, I skipped the blues and went directly to black chalk paint over the 1×4 edge.
The sander came back out to sand this side of the pallets and to give the black painted edge a little worn look.
The pallets were finished with a mixture of clear wax, a little bit of dark wax and a couple dabs of black paint. All were painted on then the excess was rubbed off with a rag.
This is the coffee table as I originally intended the top to sit. A perfect height to put your feet up when sitting on the sofa.
And this is the top upside down. A little bit taller, not quite the feet propping height, but perfect to hold stuff. What I like about the top this way is that the 100 year old brackets are visible.
Since the patent was so visible on the frame I had to look it up.
Even though the patent number is huge it was only referring to the locking brace in the corner of the bench.
If you’re curious and want to look up your own patent, check out my post Vintage Patent Art Work from a couple of months ago.
If she wants it, the table will have to go back to Steph, an heirloom piece that should stay in her family. And if she decides she likes one side of the table more than the other it can be secured with metal straps so it doesn’t slide.
I did a little something else with this coffee table check it out here.
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