When we moved into our current home, it came with a few little extras that we didn’t ask for. One was an old Coca Cola cooler that had been sitting in the yard, full of weeds and rust. We gave that away to whoever would carry it off. Kind of regretting that now.
One of the more useful things that came with the house was this solid wood door. It stayed outside for at least several decades, and is in remarkably great shape considering all the beat-downs it received from the elements. It was occasionally useful as a table when we’d have a yard sale, but it was far too heavy to make a habit out of carting it around.
As you can see in the photo, the bottom of the door was beginning to fall apart. I decided that this door could be given new life as a few small tables. We were needing something to put our snacks on while gathered around the fire pit, and this could be a fun and useful project.
Old heavy door
4) 4x4x18″ treated (legs)
11) 1x2x13″ (slats for shelf)
2×4 (126″ total, framework)
Titebond II glue
Pocket hole screws
Water based white paint
Valspar Limewash Glaze
Minwax Spar Urethane
Since the bottom part of the door was beginning to split apart, it was easy to begin sliding out each of the door panels. I used two thick panels and one thin panel for the table, and trimmed the tongue from the outer edge of the two thick panels (the room got strangely quiet after that).
I measured the overall width of the three combined panels and cut two side pieces to match. I cleaned out the debris from the grooves on all the panels that were, well, groovy. Then I test fit the pieces and glued and clamped it all together. I assumed that the glue wasn’t going to totally keep everything solid due to the very small surface area available for the glue to hold, but with some careful handling it will be solid enough to hold together until I make the legs and framework. (I discovered I was wrong about the glue after several days. When I removed the clamps it was solid as a single board! This glue is awesome stuff.)
While the glue dries on the door pieces I got to work on the legs. I am using pressure treated 4×4’s, but ripping them down to actual 3×3’s and slightly rounded off the corners. I thought 4×4’s would be too bulky. Nobody wants bulky legs.
Pressure treated wood is not very receptive to stain or paint, but giving it time to dry out will help. You can check to see if the wood is dry enough by dripping a few drops of water on the surface and seeing how the wood reacts. If the water doesn’t soak into the wood after 5-10 minutes, then the wood needs more time to dry out. Once dry, it will accept the paint. I will leave the posts out to dry while I work on this door hardware and other things (2 weeks seems to have been sufficient time to allow them to dry).
I removed the old keyhole from the door (sadly, no doorknob) and used a wire brush to clean off the old paint and corrosion. It was reattached with fancy new brass screws.
The frame was assembled out of the 3×3 posts. 2×4’s were attached with pocket screws using a Kreg jig (great tool). Then I used 1×2’s arranged as slats along the bottom, glued and pin nailed to the lower 2×4 to create the lower shelf.
After the base was completely assembled I sanded it a bit more, dusted it off, and then decided on a white wash rather than paint or stain. My friend Lori has written a great tutorial on various methods of creating paint from simple ingredients, rather than buying a ready-made product. Many of the methods she listed involve some sort of kitchen preparation shenanigans, which I briefly considered until I remembered that I was on “kitchen probation” due to an incident involving a microwave oven and popcorn (okay, two microwave ovens). Not wanting to have my kitchen privileges permanently revoked, I decided on using some water-based paint I already had on the shelf, but thinned it out 1:3 with water.
This being the first time I’ve used white wash, I incorrectly assumed that it would be like paint. White washing is a bit like trying to take a sip from a fire hose. It’s not a question of “will you splatter paint”, It’s a question of how much and how far. My phone, which was (I assumed) a safe distance away, ended up being peppered with white paint splatters. After this is dry I’ll give it a very light sanding (the table, not the phone) with 220 grit sandpaper, just to remove some of the brush strokes. When the white wash had dried, I gave it a few coats of Valspar Limewash Glaze, which I think turned out really great.
I sampled a bit of the limewash on a discarded piece of the door and let it dry, but I didn’t like how it looked. I was aiming to see more of the original browns that it had earned over the many years.
I finished the table top with 3 coats of Minwax Spar Urethane, since it was planning to spend a lot of time in the elements. The door has lasted at least 60 years, so I am hoping to get another couple decades out of the table as well.
I have enough materials left over to create two more of these tables, and I will probably do a few things differently. I used some nice spruce pine 2×4’s for part of the framework, and for the next table I think I will rip two sides to make them slightly smaller and lighter weight. This table is hefty, even after trimming down the 4×4 legs. I was showing Barb how solid this table is, so I sat on it. Turns out that it’s a perfect height to be used as a small bench.
Next thing I need to try is to have a clean shop with better ventilation! For the final finishing, I propped it up on a couple saw horses under a maple tree. This little dude decided to drop in as I was putting on the second coat. I helped him find the earth and then quit for the day. I didn’t want to keep working while trying to not step in the wrong place.