Homeschooling,  Projects

A Big Table And Another Room Makeover In The Making

What do you do when your husband comes home with a huge slab of bowling alley lane?  Build a table, of course!  The table was Scott’s idea, and the efforts to build it have been combined.  It has taken about 15 months for us to finally get it assembled (not that it was hard to assemble, but it was hard to find the time to work on it), and it will probably take another month or two until we get it completely finished, but today I’m just happy to share this progress with you!  BTW, don’t mind the mess…we have kids 🙂

Scott was given a 9ft.+ slab of bowling alley from his brother shortly after we moved here.  Imagine my surprise when he showed me.  “Oh honey!  That’s…so…great(?)!  What are we going to do with it?”  He already had a response lined up.  “I was thinking we could build a cool table out of this for the classroom.”  I was figuring it would maybe work if we cut about 3 feet off, but Scott said he didn’t want to do that.  I admit that I wasn’t convinced it was a great idea.

Well, I went where I always go when I need to problem solve a design issue…Pinterest.  I started to look up tables built of bowling alley, and I was really surprised at how many I found.  It helped me to be able to see the potential of the look he was going for.  Lots of pins later, we found one that we both liked.  We settled on a leg design from Ana White, though I knew we would have to make some adjustments.  Scott wanted a slightly beefier table…we had beams from the barn that he wanted to use for the legs, and he wanted to make it counter height.  The idea was to have a large table in the classroom that the kids could not move around (they have a thing about pushing the furniture around), and where they can work and leave out a project when it’s mealtime or to be able to lay out maps or books for working with.

With a design in mind, Scott took some of the beams from the barn and brought them to the garage to await cutting.  I convinced him to cut about 10″ off of the length of the table for the sake of making it fit better into the room, and we cut the corners at a deep 45 degree angles so that it would be less likely for a little kid to smack there head and end up with stitches. and so there would be a little more door clearance around the table.  After he cut it down, he started to sand the top to remove the old finish and remove some of the shallow scratches.

It sat like that since late last winter because we had other more pressing projects to complete.  We wanted to work on it a few times over the past year, but it was just never in the cards.  Finally, in December, I started to cut and assemble the legs.  We purchased large screws to give us a nice, sturdy build for the weight and size of the table, and we bought a few drill bits and driver bits, along with a forstner bit for giving us the ability to have a deeper, stronger joins.

The top pieces of the legs are just square cuts on the ends, but the actual legs and the lower cross piece have 35 degree cuts to get the angle of the pieces the way we wanted.

After the legs were assembled, they were joined by a long beam that runs from one pair of legs to the other.  Finally, this week, I added in the cross supports for the legs that connect to the beam at a 45 degree angle to make sure the table can’t shift from side to side.

We decided to attach the table top with just some hardwood dowels into the top of the legs and a well-placed hole into the underside of the tabletop.  The table top is so heavy that it took 4 people to safely bring it into the house, so the single dowel on each set of legs is enough to make sure that the tabletop cannot slide from side to side.  The legs are spaced so that there is no chance that a child or adult could tip it over by leaning onto an edge.

I can’t tell you how much the table weighs, but it is a bit ridiculous 🙂  It cannot be shoved around.  At all.  In fact, I think it might take two full-grown adults to be able to move it fully into position once it is completely finished.  There are still finishing touches that the table requires.  I have to sand the whole thing well, especially the table top.  We are going to be laminating a border around the table that will cover the metal supports on the underside of the table.  They are metal and pointed…hard on a knee or a child’s head, so we want to cover that so people don’t get injured on it.  After the border is added and everything is sanded, we’ll stain and then finish the table.  We are planning to get some of the bar-top finish for this because it will give us a strong, smooth finish, and we want the smoothest finish possible since the kids will be writing and drawing on this (well, on paper on it…I hope).  I’m not sure when all of that will get completed because we either need to purchase or mill some boards for the border, the sanding will take time, and the varnish is pricey for the amount we need.  I’m hoping to have it done by the end of February though.

We will still need to either purchase or build stools to use with the table.  We are thinking stools with backs, probably something that swivels…if you are getting rid of some or know somebody who is, let us know!  But the classroom itself is far from being complete.  The room doesn’t get much natural light.  It’s on the north side of the house which is lined by large pine trees.  It was the second room that was painted after we moved, mostly because I had extra paint from the living room, and it needed a fresh coat of paint pretty badly.

The color I went with works great in the living room, but not so much in the already dark classroom.  I think I’m going to repaint it something light but brighter, and though I love the color of the trim in that room, I may need to paint it to optimize the natural lighting that comes into there.  I’ll definitely paint the walls, bookshelf and potentially the desk that is in there, and that should help.  Painting the trim will be a last resort.  Once I get that room all complete, I’ll share the changes with you, but who knows how long it will be before I can get it all done.

The classroom has been a bit of a mental block for me in terms of figuring out how to rework it.  What colors of paint, furniture arrangement, storage setup for supplies…I have a vague idea of what I want, and now I have to try to iron out the kinks before I really begin to dig in.  However, with the table finally set up in the room, I think I can get a better mental image of what it is we would like for that room.  The table is not in the final position in these pictures, so it looks even bigger for the room than it is, and getting the right seating around it will help as well.  We’ll share pictures of the set up once we get it all finished.

And for those of you wondering, I haven’t forgotten about the black walnut post or the bedroom post…I still have to finish those projects as well.  I’ve been working towards better organization around the house, so some of the stuff I want to write about is a little slower in coming than I had originally anticipated.  I’m also hoping to share an update on the laundry post and a follow up post to my last one asking for your thoughts.  Expect at least two posts next week as I finish some of these things up!

What do you think of the table?  Any decorating suggestions or ideas for the classroom… color scheme or otherwise?  Let me know what you think in the comments 🙂





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