Sunday, July 8, 2012

Upcycling an Antique Table Part I

Dear reader, as you know, my interests are wide and varied as evidenced several times previously in this blog.  I have a passion for antiques and I love it when I can bring one back to life. My friend Karen, who is an antique dealer, is the same way.  She knows the trash days in the nicer parts of Dallas and has been known to drive by to see if she spies anything good.

The following is an upcycling tale of one of Karen's rescues.  She found this piece of Victorian table and could not allow it to go to the landfill.   Knowing my love of repurposing/upcycling, Karen showed it to me and asked if there was anything I could do with it.  While I didn't have an exact plan the moment she showed it to me, I knew that I could do something more noble with it than throwing it out.

The first step in repurposing/upcycling (at least for me) is to look at the object to be upcycled and let the ideas come.  Sometimes the ideas come to me immediately.  Sometimes the solution and/or new purpose can take a few months.  In this case, the idea only took a few weeks.  Last week I was potting some succulents and a thought occurred to me: Wouldn't it be nice if I had a small table by the kitchen window to put these plants on?

Side of antique table piece
Top of antique table piece
With some legs and a tile top, this would make the PERFECT plant table.  Adding a tile top to this will be no problem.  It was the legs that had me a little perplexed. There are two holes on the bottom of each side.  I have no idea what the original legs looked like, but I knew replacing them would be tricky.  I wanted something that would curve and flow with the original piece.  Time to put the thinking cap on.  The idea of how to move forward came to me about 1:30 the other morning.  I decided copper legs would be awesome.  I can bend and shape copper to match the curves of the existing piece!  Copper tubing is relatively inexpensive (compared to other metals, like silver) and can be found in the plumbing section of your local hardware store.

The first thing I did was add a copper cross bar where I assume a wood one once was. I am rather proud of myself; I measured the distance and only had to cut once. I was feeling like Bob Vila!

The 1/2 inch copper tubing was a little larger than the original holes.  No problem, I can use wood dowel rods and fix the copper tubing to the dowels.

See? It fits like a glove...well, a glove I will eventually epoxy on.  Now it was time to shape the copper.  I wanted to flatten part of the copper tubing, so that required me cutting the tubing and hammering it flat.

I made my measurements of where I want to cut.  Since I only want to flatten part of the tube, I made myself a line denoting where I need to stop cutting. I used a Sharpie for this, as it makes a nice line, but can be rubbed off (It's not permanent on metal. My jewelry is drawn out on silver sheet using a Sharpie as well).

I also drew on a guide line to cut on. This will help me keep my cut as straight as possible.

I used my jewelers saw to start the cut.  I would like to point out I was taking my own action shots here and I don't actually saw like this.  Sawing like this would be an excellent way to lose a finger.  Always think about safety when working with tools. No trips to the ER are needed.

I used an earring mandrel to help me widen the cut. This helped me with the next step.

After I got the cut started and widened, I used my metal shears to continue the cut.

Then, using my bench block (a flat metal piece I use to hammer against) and my rawhide mallet, I flattened the copper tube.  Unless you want to texture the copper (for the hammered look), you will want to use a rawhide mallet for this job.  The rawhide mallet flattens the metal without marring it.

This is where I will leave you for today, Dear Reader.  I just wanted to give you a peek at my project.  Besides, I have three other legs to cut and hammer...

Until Tomorrow - Melissa


  1. Interesting.

    Have you watched Storage Wars Texas? One of the buyers often takes his finds to a woman who reimagines them into completely new items.

  2. I have not seen Storage Wars Texas. I do think it is interesting when you can find a new purpose for an old item. When I'm done with this table, it will be a one of a kind piece and I'll have about $45 in it. If I had used wood instead of copper, it would have been less.