August 2, 2013

Locker Console Update: Wood Staining & Sealing

Today we wanted to give an update on the progress of our locker console project before trying to tackle all the finishing touches over the weekend. For those just tuning in, we're trying to make a console table for our kitchen out of an old army locker we picked up at an alley sale almost a year ago. So far, we've stripped the outer layers of paint off of it to expose all the different colors and industrial goodness, and we've also sealed it with several coats of lacquer to help protect the outer surface.

We left off last with our final coats of lacquer being applied to the locker — see how it turned out all shiny and puuurdy above! We've both been eager to move on to the next phases of this console project, so having the locker finished was a big accomplishment for us. I was able to untape the protective bags we'd put on earlier and re-attach the locker door:

It still surprises me how far we've come with this guy since we first picked it up at the alley sale:

Now that the restoration and refinishing of the locker was complete to our liking, we were ready to move on to the actual furniture transformation stage of this project — it was an exciting moment.

Neither of us are trained woodworkers or furniture builders, but thought we'd take a crack at this console from an amateur approach. We drew out this state of the art and highly technical sketch (I did not see the need for AutoCad here) of our plans for how we thought we could construct the console:

Hopefully this little sketch helps show the idea we have in mind for turning the locker on its side to have it function as a storage console with the door opening out and down like a drawer. We want to rest the locker on top of a simple console table we construct from 2 sturdy wood slabs, metal piping and industrial caster wheels.

Sketching it out also gave us a visual idea of all the measurements and calculations we'd need to make in order to get the right pieces of wood and hardware for the console. Since we wanted the wood slabs to be flush with the base of the locker, we took length and width measurements:

And in a perfect world I'd like to make the door open down with a jack chain holding it in place, so took measurements for that while we had the tape out:

Once we knew the exact dimensions we'd need for the wood slabs, it was off to the hardwood store to see what we could find.

Most hardware stores have aisles with pre-cut wood panels in various shapes and sizes ready to work on projects like ours. We were at Lowe's and it turned out there were several precut panels already in the 20 inch width, so we were in luck. We settled on a 20" by 96" panel of solid pine, like this.

Since the length was more than we needed by 20 inches (we only need a 20" by 76"), they were able to cut the wood down to size for us right there in the store for only 25 cents per cut — it was great:

50 cents later, we had our perfectly dimensioned panels of wood along with 2 perfectly 20" square pieces ready to take back home and begin working with:

We thanked our lucky stars as we were able to cram these slabs into the car — they called shotgun before Mary could open her mouth:

Once home, we set aside the extra pieces of wood the guys at the hardware store had cut off to use in future projects and propped these slabs up, one at a time to begin prepping for the console. Even though we knew we'd gotten wood that matched up dimensionally to the locker, it was still such a cool feeling laying the panels down and watching them line up perfectly flush:

To prep the wood, I first sanded down each side to a smooth and clean finish, taking off all the rough edges and any deep ridges:

After a quick dusting, it was time to stain and seal the wood. We went with a classic cherry stain by Rust-Oleum that claimed to only need one coat and dry in one hour:

I simply brushed on a substantial coat across the full front side of one panel:

Then gave the entire thing a good wiping with an old t-shirt:

After wiping with the t-shirt, the grain of the wood really began to shine through:

We let each side fully dry before flipping over and staining the next. We really were happy with the look of how one full coat of stain came out and decided to stop there:

After the staining was complete and dry, it was time to seal the stain and wood for protection and final prepping. We went with a water based polyurethane by Rust-Oleum. The guys at the hardware store explained how water based polyurethanes are suited best for indoor projects since you can wipe them clean with soap and water versus mineral spirits. We decided to go with a satin finish as to let the high gloss of the metal locker really be the star of the final console with the wood as a more rustic compliment:

To apply, we followed the can directions and applied thin and even coats across the surface of each panel, allowing each side to fully dry before moving onto the next:

The polyurethane was a creamy white color straight out of the can and would brush on with a little bit of a purple glossy tint, but it would dry in a clear and smooth finish:

Three thin and even coats later, we think we're looking pretty good!

Now that we've gotten the wood slabs cut to size, stained and sealed, we're just waiting for them to fully dry while we pick out the right hardware to finish making the console. Everything should be pretty quick to finish up at this stage, so it might even be something we can call complete over the weekend. We'll be sure to keep you posted!

P.S. We will have a surprise Saturday post (not like us) for you guys tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Update: We completed the locker console and love using it in our kitchen! See all the final pics in this project post.


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