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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

The Old Bench

Sometimes you find the coolest treasures where you're not looking.  Just as when you ARE looking for something, you won't find it.

Last week, during our impending ice storm, I realized that I was completely, and totally out of one of THE most important boredom busters if/when power is lost.  I was out of yarn.  YARN!  I don't even know how that is possible.  Not one skein, not one ball, no bits or bobs, my basket was completely empty.  I think I heard crickets in the basket when I opened the lid.

Luckily, we didn't lose power and I wasn't forced to harvest yarn from another project, shave and spin Doc's leg hair, or worse, figure out if you could knit with chicken feathers.  All I wanted to do was sit down and play with a new (to me), more hand friendly method of knitting.

A few days later the roads were finally ice free, and everyone was ready to get out and about.  I knew I was heading to the yarn shop, but not any yarn shop.  I'm tired at looking at the same old shops, and the same inventory locally.  My favorite shop, Spindle Shuttle and Needle, is just too far of a drive in the winter.  I thought there certainly had to be a small shop in the city that I had missed.  Google to the rescue.  Nope.  But as I scrolled the map out, I was surprised to see a pin in Seward.  Seward?  But I'm there all the time and I've never noticed a yard shop.  Never.  But there it was, right off the main square.  Dare I hope that it really existed?  How could I have missed it for three years?  My finger hovered over the mouse button.  Should I click on it?  Sure, why not. 


It exists!  In my defense, it is on a road in Seward that I've only been down twice in three years, and it's a road that you must pay attention to the road while traveling, not looking up and down at store signage.  Weedy Creek yarn company is a tiny shop that actually shares the front half of an historic long narrow storefront.  The front third of the store is the yarn shop, and the back 2/3rd is a quilting/fabric shop called The Udder Store.  The Udder Store is the little sister satellite shop of the Cosmic Cow fabric store down in Lincoln. 

The quilt store, while small, has some lovely fabrics, especially historic reproduction fabrics.  The yarn shop is very small, but does have enough to keep you sane for the winter, or until you can get your internet order in.  Both are a far better choice than a LONG drive into the city.  I looked around found a couple of great yarns, made my purchase and was looking forward to delving into Portuguese knitting.

As long as I was in town though, I had to stop by and see Pat at Liberty house.  I hadn't been since the start of the New Year. After a whole lot of yackity-yack, I told her that I was going to take a quick spin through the shop and see what she had in that was new before I raced home to let the birds out. (It was after all 52 degrees out!)

There in the summer kitchen I saw it. Actually I saw all the stuff ON it first, then I saw what was hidden underneath.  A wonderfully interesting, paint splotched, crooked legged table sat in the middle of the room where a 1950s kitchen table USED to be.  She looked hearty, and was sturdy, and the price was good, but I really didn't have a place or and idea for her.  That was until I got half way home.  I would, of course, have to hope she wouldn't be sold for the rest of the day, until I could call Pat at 10am to put a hold on it.

While she was too tall, and the legs were wobbly and too small, the bench would make a fabulous coffee table!  I didn't think I would ever bother with a coffee table again.  They always seem to be in the way, cut a room in half, and seemed to accumulate stuff - as any horizontal surface does.  But this table was too good to pass up.  I put a hold on it on Thursday, and picked it up on Friday afternoon. 

We plopped her on the work table in the workshop and on Saturday, in the bright light of day, I took a good look at what all needed done.  OAK.  She is SOLID OAK! Every board is a solid inch thick.  The top is not only an inch thick, but also 24 inches WIDE! Wrap your head around the size of that tree!  The legs were oak as well, but were only 2x3 inches and were far too long and small to support not only the size and weight of the table, but also the aesthetics.  They would have to go.

From Pat I learned that an old man, a very old man, had built this table for his bride as a stand for her wash tubs so that she wouldn't have to move and tote them.  She could just line them up and work from one to the next to the next and then off to the line.  There was even a small hole in one end for the drain on the mangler tub. It is long enough for three large square wash tubs in a row.    Over the years it became a project table, as the many paint drips and splotches can attest to. 

He used nails, many rounds of nails, to not only build, but to repair the joints and secure, and re-secure, the legs.  There was no way those were coming out, so the legs had to be cut off. I then reset all the nails and drilled screw holes to add counter-sunk deck screws to pull it all together as tightly as I could. I filled the holes with putty and walked away so they could dry to their full depth.

While putty dried, I took one of the old legs to the hardware store to have custom paint mixed to match the peeling paint on the table top, and braces to hold the new legs on.  And wood, I needed a 2x4 to make the new legs.  I planned to abut two pieces and keep with the cobbled look of the table instead of using a solid 4x4 post for the legs.

I attached the mountings to the table, and built the legs.  I then spray painted the legs in a blotchy manner with green, tan, brown, and black spray paints and let them dry.  They then were given a solid coat of the custom brown of the table top, and again allowed to dry.

I then roughly rubbed the legs to knock some of the new paint off, revealing the wood grain and other colors underneath.  They look ancient, like they should.  I also painted over the filled screws with the red brown paint, making them look like the peeling stripped paint surrounding them.

When it was all reassembled, I started with layer after layer of water based, satin, polycoat.  I put on a total of 6 layers.  By Tuesday evening, the coffee table was sitting in front of the sofa where it belongs.  I think the old guy would be proud :D


  1. Haha, and here's me thinking you woukd strip it down to reveal the oak wood grain!

  2. How wonderful. What a find. You did do good, and yes I am sure the old man is smiling down at his bench/coffee table and is very proud indeed. xx