Since my last post about the new subfloor, the weather in MT has made working on Eisley (the name of my Airstream) less desireable. Over the last month we've had 29 inches of new snow. The temperature has dipped below -20°F for multiple days; today's balmy high was 5°F. So this post is off-topic, as my work has been off-topic.
My extended family was planning on coming to town over Christmas and our guest room lacked a bed. So I went out to my stack of pallets (which were a lot more snowy than this!) and made them into a bed.
First I ripped the pallets apart with a table saw. The bulk of the lumber, headboard slats and the 2x4s for the bedframe, came from the pallets. It was pretty easy using my circular saw.
Once the pallets were torn apart, I got help with color from our resident artist. My daughter and I made one of the broken pallet pieces into our test board. We used regular acrylic-latex paint (your typical indoor wall paint and/craft paint) and painted it on thick. The trick is to really get the paint into the low spots on the rough wood. You can even thin the paint a little, if needed. (I only ended up thinning a few colors that I didn't quite have enough of for the whole project.)
After the paint dried, I sanded the board with 60-grit sandpaper and my orbital sander. This removes the paint from the high spots and exposes bare wood for staining. Along the length of the board, so that it overlapped each paint color, we tested two different stains and left the center natural.
The homemade stain was our favorite of the three treatments. It is really easy to make and totally wild to use. Take a glass ball jar (or whatever) and put in one piece of fine steel wool (I used 0000). I pulled it apart and covered it with two cups-ish of white vinegar. The crazy part of this stain is that its darkness totally depends on how long you leave the steel wool in the vinegar. I left it in for about 4 hours for this bed, which is really light. From 4-12 hours the stain ends up being shades of grey, beyond that the stain becomes shades of brown. Here's a great youtube video about it. In case you don't watch the video, just know that the stain takes time to develop after you wet the wood with it. Come back a day later and it looks totally different.
Next I bought the few pieces of lumber that the pallets could not provide. (However, I spent less than $50 and the bulk of the lumber came from the pallets!! Just sayin.) I bought 2x6s for the bedframe support, cheap furring strips for trim, and some molding. The two peices of molding were, by far, the most expensive lumber. I should have gone to the Habitat restore for it, but I was cruched for time. I bet I could have halved this lumber cost, if I had.
The problem with new wood is that it has no character compared to the rugged pallets. So I took matters into my own hands. I used my angle grinder with a wire attachment and sanded (ground?) out the soft wood. It left those awesome ridges in the middle pic above. Then I imagined a story for each piece of wood, some spots got banged up with a hammer, some got extra nail holes or deep scratches. Every new piece got this treatment, even the trim. I really thought I was going too far, but in the end it was just enough. I think it would be hard to add too much texture.
Next I painted my boards. The headboard pieces each got a color and the frame/trim got white.
From here, it was really basic carpentry. I put the headboard together, stained it as a unit with the vinegar/steel wool mixture and finally sealed it with several coats of polycrylic. I did stain/seal the frame pieces separately before assembling them. Also, I used a matt finish because I wanted it to look weathered, not shiny.
If you'd like plans and dimension for the bed, you can find them at www.ana-white.com. It is a great site for free woodworking plans.
I have not been totally idle in my Airstream work. Next time I'll update you on the new progress there. Yellow snakes are invading!
I'm not an Airstream Jedi, yet. Airstream Jedi would have sounded presumptuous, like I know what I'm doing. That couldn't be further from the truth. Padawan is a title I can hope to live up to.
Knots Per Hour
My friend Mike is building an airplane. Check it out.