Spool School

I’ve sat on this blog for a few months now with a million entry ideas in my head, so many things I have been aching to share, but with one looming dilemma… where the hell do I begin? Where do I even start? So, here I am, at long last, ready to begin with something that I think gives a little insight into one of the things I love most in this world – furniture. I intend for this blog to mainly focus on all things HOME. This includes, design, decor, architecture, food porn, trend forecasts, a little shameless self promotion and some good old-fashioned DIYs. And that is what I begin with here today, a DIY tutorial on how to make an Industrial-Modern Spool Table.

Spool tables have become pretty popular, to the point where Restoration Hardware has included versions of them in their children’s furniture collections. Also, the industrial modern trend is still going strong and since I have recently moved into a converted mill, welcoming that trend with open arms seemed like the right thing to do. What led me to creating this table was an apartment photo contest my building was having. I was one of a few winners and we were to, at our leisure, go downstairs and collect our small cable spools, which I had already made space for as a nice side table. What I hadn’t realized was that not ALL the spools were the small ones we had believed them to be. No, one of those spools was a HUGE mega-industrial cable spool. Since I was somehow the last person to mosey on down to the lobby, I was greeted with this wooden monstrosity that may have very well just swallowed the smaller tables and the people there to claim them. Not one to turn down something interesting and free, I tipped that sucker over and rolled it into the elevator and into our loft where I stared at it for a few days wondering what I was going to do with it and how I was going to take it apart.

Don't let it's peaceful look fool you

Don’t let it’s peaceful look fool you

My photo is so deceiving. Had I not already had the dining table of my dreams, I would have easily been able to clean this up, throw 4 chairs around it and call it a day. But that was not an option… and I REALLY needed a new coffee table. So the wheels began turning in my head and soon a game plan was formulated.

Home Depot is like being a kid in a toy store

Home Depot is like being a kid in a toy store

I needed quite a few “extra” supplies that other people may normally have on hand, like a socket set, which was the key tool in disassembling the cable spool. The bolts were tight and rusty, but with a little oomph it came apart, though the clean up was miserable. Wood scraps, dust, rust and all that fun stuff you don’t want all over your floors. With the spool in pieces, I chose which circular piece  I wanted to run with and took a measurement of it’s diameter. This allowed me to figure out how long I wanted the base to be. I knew I’d have a center piece joining pipe together and that would account for a good two inches in each direction, as well as an extra inch from the elbow joints that I would need to connect to the actual legs. Your options are seemingly endless, so once you have an idea of how high you want it to be, you can play around with it from there. I wanted my table to be roughly 18″ high and the wood was 2″ of that height already. I accounted for the thickness of the elbows, flanges and also I wanted to use two shorter pipes with a connector in between, more for aesthetics than an actual purpose. So I basically picked my height and worked backwards until I new how long I needed my pipe to be.

Uh-oh, someone made a boo-boo

Uh-oh, someone made a boo-boo

I was ready to hit the ground running. Everything was going so quickly and so well… until I got to the fourth leg and realized I didn’t have the same type of elbow. So, back to Home Depot I went for more supplies…

Coffee is a supply, right?

Coffee is a supply, right?

And a slight detour. Back at home, I finally finished the base and laid a level from end to end, adjusting as needed until all were precisely the same height.

A simple ruler will get you through this part

A simple ruler will get you through this part

With the base level, I set it on the underside of my table-top. I used a simple ruler to measure from leg to edge to make sure that the base was perfectly centered. Then using galvanized wood screws I secured it in place.

So far, so good

So far, so good

I was already pretty happy with the result, but I knew I wanted to stain it to give it a more aged look. First I sanded the top and sides of the table to smooth out any really rough or splintered areas. While you could REALLY sand these smooth, I decided to keep some texture to it because I didn’t want it to look “new”, I wanted that weathered, aged look. And the wood has this great stamping on the top that I didn’t want to sand away, as well as a red discoloration that I thought gave it some extra character. I used a gritty paper to level it out and rid it of any splintered pieces, then went over it with a fine grit to smooth out any rough spots. Finally, I simply wiped it down to get rid of any wood dust before staining.

I used a Minwax stain called Early American. I also bought wipe-on Poly but didn’t end up using it. I decided against the shine that Poly would have given it. The stain was very easy to use. The wood was thirsty and sucked it right up. I did two coats. It was dry to the touch in about an hour, but I waited until the next morning to give it coat number two, just to play it safe.

I must admit I was nervous at how dark it went on.

I must admit I was nervous at how dark it went on.

The stain was a bit deceiving in its wet state, but once it dried, I got exactly the color I was hoping for.

Dry stain is good stain.

Dry stain is good stain.

I was left with a cross between walnut and weather oak. The red discolorations still showed through, as did the stamp marks. The surface scratches that I decided not to sand are big enough to add character but small enough not to be a pain when cleaning. All in all, I am very happy with the simple approach I took by not altering the piece too much. Overall, the project cost me around $120 with the bulk of the cost coming from the pipes. The socket set I bought was only about $25. A cheaper alternative would have been to not use two pipes for the legs and not to make a base. You could very well just use four 10″ pipes and eight flanges for a simple four-legged table, but I wanted something a little different. And, even going with a more expensive option, this table still comes in hundreds of dollars cheaper than a store bought one. Hell, it’s even cheaper than buying a veneered MDF table from IKEA. And now I’ve got something so solid and sturdy it could be used as a stage.

That's one sexy table.

That’s one sexy table.

Let me know what you think in the comments below!