Monday, March 19, 2012

DIY: cable spool coffee table


I'm the last person that should be writing this post. I have almost no innate creativity and no experience working with power tools. But in week, I completed a home project I'd found on Pinterest (sadly, with no original photo source) and in the Design*Sponge book, that has been on my wishlist for a couple years.

I'm going to include a light tutorial, but please feel free to ask questions if you have them, and I'll do my best to answer! A friend (you just saw her beautiful wedding) and I worked on this project together. I had the inspiration/motivation to get it started, and she had the space, experience and power tools.

Here's what you'll need (I didn't have ANY of these tools or supplies before I got started. Most of you probably have some tools on hand already, but I'll include everything I used)
  • Electrical cable reel (or spool). We picked up these spools at a local electrical supply company that literally had piles of them lying behind their warehouse. We were permitted to pick them up for free. (total score!)
  • A power sander (like this, or a smaller version here)
  • Cordless drill with screw-driving and drilling bit sets
  • 1 inch spade drill bit
  • Wood stain
  • 2.5 inch screws
  • Compass, or soft measuring tape
  • 8 feet of 1 inch dowel rods (I used 5 pieces cut at 18" each and trimmed them up as needed)
  • level
  • wrench
  • hammer
Ok! here we go.

This is what the spool looked like when I got started.  

(I had already removed a metal plate from the top)

First, hammer down the nails sticking out to make a smooth surface.
Then sand, sand, sand. My goal was to get rid of most of the stamped letters and paint on top and any other imperfections in the wood. I used the electric sander on the surface for probably an hour before it looked and felt like what I wanted. I lightly sanded the sides, the center cylinder, and the bottom up-facing surface, to protect from splinters. Then I took a piece of sand paper and hit some spots around the center hole by hand. 

Once it was completely sanded, I wiped it gently with a damp washcloth, then brushed one layer of Ikea's Behandla wood stain on it. I stained the dowels as well and left both to dry. (Because I was working on this project at my friend's, I came back about 5 days later, but an overnight dry would have been enough.)


When the stain was dry I started marking out where I would install the dowels. This would have been much easier with a compass, so that's what I included above. I marked out 5 places where I wanted the dowels, about 18" apart and measured them halfway in from the edge, which was 2.5". I marked them on the inside of the top, and on the bottom.


I drilled a 1 inch bevel for the dowel to sit in on the underside of the top (the table was upside down here).  I measured the space carefully and added about 1/8" for the dowel length, and cut it. Placing one side of the dowel in the groove, I used a rubber mallet to hammer the dowel until it leveled evenly. Then I drilled a small hole for a screw through the bottom of the table and into the dowel, and screwed the flat end of the dowel to the bottom.

I did this around each point and then wiped the whole thing clean.

After getting it home, I decided I wanted another layer of stain on the top so I applied that, and then sprayed it with an indoor wood sealant to protect from water stains. 4 coats and 3 hours later, it was finished. (I was ready to bring it inside, but it smelled pretty strongly for 2 days afterwards so it should have probably be left out in a garage for a few days to air out.)

Total cost (to me): $40
Total time: 8 hours

before and after

and then - ta da! We put some of our favorite books on display and I topped it temporarily with this decorative plate and bark balls from Ikea.



spool final


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