Looking for a new adventure in the shop? Give upcycling a try.
I have some furniture for sale at a gallery called Reworx in my hometown (Watertown, CT). Everyone in the gallery uses salvaged items in their furiture. I’ve seen tables made from old industrial gears and patterns, light fixtures made with cool driftwood (more like branches that worm-holed boards), and some great tables made from old doors and bench tops. They’ve taken something old and upcycled it into a piece of funky furniture with new life.
The furniture I have down there has been made in a more traditional fashion and from traditional materials. I find old wood, clean it up and make furniture from it, like this table. But I’ve wanted to use some old industrial components in a piece for a while, and I finally found what I was I was looking for: a nice metal filing cabinet that came out of a tooling factory in a nearby town. This cabinet on stand is what I came up with. The cabinet was missing one of the original drawers, so I took out another five and replaced them with three wooden drawers. I made the pulls with two different sizes of hemp cord, wrapping a 2mm cord around some 4mm cord.
The hardest part of making this piece was designing a base that looks like it belongs with the metal cabinet. The style and the proportions had to be just right. It took a few weeks of kicking ideas around before I settled on something. I know that the base is simple, but it should be. The cabinet has a very clean, modern look to it. I know that others might disagree, but I think I did a pretty good job. To my eye, the base and cabinet look like they were made for each other.
I’ve made a fair amount of furniture with traditional techniques and materials. This project was every bit as challenging and demanding and those projects. There was no complicated joinery or curved panels to make and veneer, but working backward from an already existing compenent to design a complete piece was tough. Nonetheless, I had a lot fun, and I’m already looking for the next bit of salvaged furniture that I can upcycle into a piece of fine furniture.
May-September marriage. The metal filing cabinet cabinet came from an old factory, and the new cherry came from a local lumber yard.
Floating cabinet. There are three stretchers running front to back on the base that raise the cabinet above the base to give a feeling of lightness.
Rope pulls. One piece of 4mm hemp cord is threaded through four holes in the front. I used 2mm waxed cord to wrap the two loops together and to capture the two loose ends of the 4mm cord.
Easiest drawers ever. The cabinet and it's drawers were quite dirty, so I cleaned them with soap and water and then waxed them. It took me less time than I needed to make the wooden drawers.
Pinned rabbets. I thought dovetailed drawers would be out of place here, so I used an old standby that I like. The sides and bottom are white pine.