Too Cool For School (Part 2)

After soooo many coats of polyurethane, the tops of the desks were ready to be attached to the bases. The original desk tops were a bit thicker than the birch wood I used for the new tops. I figured since the thickness wasn’t too different, we could use the same length of screw (1/2″). After double checking, it seemed like the half inch screw might pop right through the top and ruin the whole thing. So off to Lowe’s we went.

Since the holes in the desk base were kind of big, we thought we would need a #8 3/8″ screw. It turns out this is really difficult to find because whoever is making the screws decided that if you want the #8 thickness, you probably want a long screw right? No, screw company, I have needs and they are tiny thick screws for desk renovation projects! Finally, hidden behind some stuff in the wrong place, we found them.

After flipping the desk upside down and tracing the holes onto the wood and then measuring obsessively until it was even, they were ready for assembly. We started by making a little indention for the screw to sit in. On a couple of them we drilled small pilot holes, but this wasn’t necessary for all of them. Then we screwed everything in by hand.

Once everything was attached, we had to adjust the leg height. My futon has a seat height of 15 5/8″ which is a little low, so we dropped the legs on the desks as low as they would go. After busting out the level and making sure each leg was the proper length, these end tables are ready for action!

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Perfect for storing my growing collection of coloring books and pencils!

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Don’t be afraid to get wood with knots! It adds depth and character and looks great after layering on the polyurethane.

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Too Cool For School (Part 1)

As I finish up my last semester of college and prepare to graduate, I’m starting to think about moving out and having my own apartment. Honestly, it’s a little stressful. I want to move to New York City and, ideally, I want to have an apartment that looks like…well, like a designer lives there.

So I’ve been scouring LetGo and VarageSale and Craigslist for gently used furniture pieces that I can fix up and use. It’s way cheaper than buying all new since I’m on a budget and some of the things I’ve found have been really good quality at a price I (almost) felt I should be paying more for. And I’ll be able to point to stuff and say “look, I made that!” which is pretty cool.

When we found these old school desks (like the kind I remember from elementary school), I had to get them. Not only are they sturdy and metal (they’ve got to hold up to years of rowdy kids) but they have storage space and, with a little fixing, they’ll make great end tables.

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Since they have been used and they were kind of old, they did need to be hosed down and cleaned up. The tops were removed and spots on the inside had to be scrubbed down with steel wool to remove rust then sprayed with some clear coat to prevent further rusting. Then it was time to tape off the legs and start painting!

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So far, so good! I chose a lighter blue spray paint to give these a fresh look.

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Ah, yes. Much better. Now for the tops. The ones they came with are obviously durable, but they’re not the most aesthetically pleasing. I would need epoxy paint in order to get a strong finish, so instead I went with maple plywood, sanded down smooth and sealed with polyurethane to keep it looking nice and to bring out the colors of the wood.

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Before and after: it definitely enhances the wood grain and gives it a nice shine.

Now all I’ve got to do is polish the legs up and screw the new tops on and these tables will be ready to go! Stay tuned for part 2 where I’ll show the finished project!