When I came across this awesome vintage-inspired trestle desk this week, it struck all my favorite things: warm wood tones, a modern industrial vibe, and nothing extraneous, just a nice big surface and some shelves. It was "inspired by an antique French architect's table," and it's just all kinds of industrial cool.
Except there's one problem...
Editor's Note: This project is an excerpt from the new book The Art and Craft of Wood: A Practical Guide to Harvesting, Choosing, Reclaiming, Preparing, Crafting, and Building with Raw Wood by Silas J Kyler and David Hildren. The book is available now at your favorite local bookstore, Powell's, or Amazon. Thanks to Quarry Books for sharing this project with us.
Building furniture is what first drew me to woodworking. The first coffee table I ever made was for my mom. It was a surprise gift, and I worked tirelessly, hour upon hour, to create something I was proud of. I remember the unveiling well, and the joy it gave her was well worth all the hard work.
The projects to this point have been small and technically much easier than building a piece of fine furniture. Going from making a serving tray or lamp to a coffee table may feel like a big step, and in many ways it is, but practicing with small projects gives you all the skills you need to approach a simple piece of furniture. Remember: with a good dose of patience, you will be well on your way to creating beautiful furniture.
I had a particular set of mesquite slabs in mind when envisioning this coffee table. The tree came from my neighbor’s front yard. When it was removed, they simply asked the crew to leave the trunk behind for me to gather. As I was giving this tree a new life, I could step outside my shop, look across the alley, and see where it lived and died. I could also see where the logs sat and seasoned for two years, driving my wife crazy.
On the side, my wife and I sell some of our handiwork at craft fairs, barn sales and vintage markets. When we got started, we had mostly folding plastic tables and white table cloths. And as you know, nothing, except maybe a grilled hot dog on a paper plate on the Fourth of July, looks its best on a folding plastic table and white table cloth.
What started as a backyard space-saving idea became a beautiful and versatile piece of furniture that's sure to inspire other convertible furniture ideas. Instructables.com user jordi D started with a couple of similar design ideas he'd seen online and then adapted them to fit his own specific aesthetic.
I don't think I've mentioned this on ManMade, but earlier this year, my wife and I bought our first (and hopefully last) home. It was a big deal, both emotionally and financially, and looking in one of the wildest and fastest changing real estate climates in the country, we got pretty lucky that our first offer was accepted. It's a solid home that we can afford, and it sits in a close-in neighborhood that's super liveable and great for walking, commuting by bike, and public transit. I totally love it.
And...of course, when you own your own home, you get to mess with it. No more landlords to tell you what to do, no more wasting time and money investing in customizing a place that you'll only be in for a little while. And of course, as a DIY blogger, I had my sights set on the two most important spaces in the house: the garage and the basement.
Ah....the 4x8' sheet of birch plywood. A timeless DIY material, strong, dimensionally stable, and full of crisp lines and repeated grain patterns. It's great for everything from workshop jigs to cabinet carcasses to casework to... a full sized dining table?
When I stumbled onto this excellent coffee table project, it completely inspired me to think about all the items I pass up. An only WWII Ship Hatch needed a second life and with a bit of creative making, it was transformed into a seriously awesome coffee table.
Head to any discount store or the cookware section of a higher-end grocery store, and you'll all kinds of cool acacia and olive wood and walnut cutting boards and serving strays with rich, striking grain patterns.
The DIYer will, of course, then say: we should totally make something out of those.
I'm always looking for a place to set my glass when I'm sitting at the couch. Build this simple table with outlets that fits between the wall and the sofa so you can keep your drink close, and no more digging around behind the couch to plug in your laptop.
Sometimes we just love to see a craftsman have some fun with a design. Most of the time all we see people make on the beach is a sagging sand castle. A designer decided to take some time to craft a pewter desk using sand on the beach as the mold and it turned out amazing.
"There's a lot of wood out in the world free for the taking," says Will Holman. So much, in fact, he was able to cobble together a wide variety of materials found "in dumpsters, back alleys, vacant lots, abandoned buildings, recycling yards, and architectural salvage centers." The results? A 10'x30" dining/work table constructed entirely from the free, repurposed lumber, and a little elbow grease and ingenuity.
If you drink coffee as much as I think you might, chances are you're in need of a good coffee table. Or could use a coffee table upgrade. Or just need a little design inspiration.