Wednesday, June 26, 2019

home(t)raveling: the side projects

#3 - the shoe rack and bench for the lobby

We're back today with a new side project for this never-ending home renovation of ours! Like the previous one and the one before that, it's been bouncing and spinning at the back of our heads for quite a while now (boing boing boooing!)

the lobby, just mopped and clean, waiting for a shoe-lution...
But it never seemed to be important enough for us to dedicate some serious time and availability to it... Apparently, there was always something more urgent to do first. Life's like a gigantic game of Go: you would love to put 3 or 4 (or more!) stones on the goban at the same time (and you desperately need to put at least 2 at once). Yet the rule is clear: you can only put one per turn, so you have to face it and make choices... Life lesson #1, learned.

Now, as you may have noticed already (well actually no: this is a terrible spoiler of a long due post from March... but it'll come. Eventually. And you'll be the first to hear about it!), we repainted the staircase and the ground floor lobby in a colourful way over the winter and spring. We also refreshed the closet under the stair and removed all the stuff that was piled around there (and this, you CAN indeed have a quick look at it here!). This side project was about designing and building a piece of furniture that would be both a shoe rack/chest/storage and a bench to sit on while putting on/taking off one's shoes. We wanted it to invite people to take their shoes off. And of course, we wanted it to be homemade with reclaimed material, to be comfortable and sturdy, as well as - according to our standards - to be good-looking aaaaand... to blend nicely in this little space! Was that too many wishes at the same time? Have a look:

putting the idea into practice: wine-boxing, measuring and cutting, wood-pegging and glueing, clamping and work-in-progressing!
First thing first, we tried something with the compulsory wineboxes. Each standard 6 bottle-case can fit 2 pairs of Wallis' shoes and, well, 2-ish of Futuna's. We decided to go for 3 standard and 1 double (12 bottles) boxes/drawers per raw and a 2 rows structure, so it fitted enough shoes but was still sittable on... All we used were some leftovers of 15mm OSB pannels (from the false ceilings and insulated double-wall of the 1st floor bathroom), some "white" wood glue and a handful of 6mm wood pegs. And quite a few sheets of sand paper too (old school, no powertool involved).

the structure of the shoe bench and chest, raw and ready to be framed.
We designed and built the body of the bench/chest without bothering with feet: just left them for later. Glued and assembled the first floor, then prepared the second and kept working. We decided to add and extra double-winebox drawer on the run, just before cutting and glueing the second side pannel. As always, we were more full of enthousiasm than real skill, we had to deal with small millimetric issues, minimal arguments with orthodox orthogonal-ness (??) and applied concepts of tight fitting-ism (???). Nothing new under the DIY skies. Well, under ours at least. After a few hours, it looked like this, though:

We then started to imagine the feet and had a very intense, nice and vivid dream of a frame with rustic joinery that would embed the whole piece and make a little armchair-like arm on the opposite side of the extra drawer. Sounds terribly vague when said like this, but Wallis understood and she saw the picture and she looked convinced. So we did it... Reclaimed pallet wood from our local seller of new, heavy double-glazed windows and sliding bays: these guys always have so many huge pallets and A-frames for the windows to be shipped safely. They do nothing with those, they have to pay to get rid of them and you get to salvage pieces with nice lenghts and sections, suitable for all kind of super cheap furniture and stuff. Nothing too fancy, just regular untreated pine or fir, but it's free, available and it does the job! So, we cut, sanded, fitted and joined. We tried it, made some adjustments, sanded and finished with a mixture of linseed and turpentine oils. Left some long feet to set the final sitting height at the last minute - and adapt to the tilted floor if needed...

the mortise and tenon frame: drawn, cut and pegged ; then mounted on the chest and ready for a little bit of paint and a proper seat.
Finally, we figured out how to deal with the seat: we'd use a few of the old floor slats we removed from the old water closet on the first floor: before building the (new) bathroom, we replaced the wooden floor from this area by 'hydrofuge' waterproof CTBH (and no Mr. Duck duck Go, CTBH does not stand for "Christian Temperance And Bible Hygiene", it's definitely a type of agglomerate wood pannels). We picked the nicest slats to replace some damaged ones in the two bedrooms, and kept the rest just in case, to be used someday, to burn on a Saint Jean's pyre or who knows... A few pieces were selected, sanded, cut to the desired length, asembled together, sanded again and oiled with the magic mixture before being screwed to the bench. Perfect, smooth fit. And a nice feel to it. We love it! How about you?

old slats sanded, oiled and screwed in place ; close-up ; finished bench with a few wine-cases oiled and a touch of wakame green!

EDITED JULY 7TH: and the last detail that you won't see today: finally, we needed to add some cool knobs/handles so the drawers would open easily. But we were unsure what material to use... A loop of thread or leather? wooden knobs? metal handles? We ended up with 2 nice options we're really happy with, but our camera has been on strike for a few weeks now (which is why the last 2 posts are illustrated with the smartphone's pics and some have low res and others are plain blurry... Sorry for this, btw. We're working on it...).
So, you'll have to wait until next post or until the next sunny day for a quick update on this! we've taken these 3 pics today and are very very pleased to share them: how do you like this touch of I used to rock-climb in the 90's ??

pieces of a retired, super-vintage climbing sling for the handles ; a few Catalan cava corks for the knobs, and voilà!

and that's all folks:
Take care
and enjoy the summer!
many hugs from F, T and W ;)


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