Table Leaves and Black Steel Shelves


There was this one space in my living room that was really irritating me. It is that space where the thermostat is placed. We tried hanging pictures in the area and the thermostat threw everything off-balance. I put a small shelf up for our mantel clock and my eye was still being drawn to the thermostat. I couldn’t move it and I couldn’t cover it up so I had to get a little creative. I needed a way to hide it in plain sight.

So the idea was to put up a shelf for knickknacks where the thermostat would look like it was just sitting on the shelf and belonged there. I also had a few other pieces that I wanted to display so this project turned into a series of shelves.

I like a mixture of warm and cold materials. I had success with my Butcher-Block and Black Steel project so I thought I would do something similar. First I had to decide on the piping to use. The last project I used 1” piping because I wanted it to be the main feature. For this one I wanted the knickknacks to stand out so used a smaller diameter. The ¼” pipe is more of a detail than a prominent feature. I also didn’t use as much piping. I just used them as simple support brackets. Next I had to find the wood. We decided that we were looking for an older piece of furniture that just couldn’t be saved or some old table leaves.

Last spring we were at Morningstar Market in Thomasville, PA for the flea market. Almost as soon as we walked in, I found a bundle of old table leaves for $20. They were mismatched, warped, damaged and cracked. Perfect for what I wanted to do with them. To repair the cracks that I could, I filled them with wood glue and clamped them for a day. I then ripped the boards as wide as I could. I only removed what was useless to the project.

Before moving forward with the boards I needed to see what was available to me in the steel piping. A quick internet search showed me what was in stock locally. I accounted for the length of the pipe, the flange, adapter and the end cap. Since there was a large variety to choose from I decided to rip the boards at different widths and lengths. This would give me more of an organic feel and accommodate large and small display pieces.

Once ripped, I routed the edges and started sanding off the old finish. 60 grit to get off the old gunk, 120 to smooth out the gouges, 320 to get it smooth to the touch and then steel wool for a silk feel. With that done I applied a few coats of matt polyurethane. I got the character of the wood that I wanted. You can still see old deep gouges and small cracks and it has a simple finish that brings out the natural color of the wood.

Before mounting the pipe I decided how we wanted to display our pieces. The pipes are mounted on the studs and are not in uniform height. If you remember I had two goals with this project. Hide the thermostat and have a shelf for the mantle clock. First I held the thinnest shelf up to the thermostat so it was resting on it and marked where the pipe needed to be. The center shelf has the tallest items and needs more head space than the others. This really gave me that organic feel I was looking for. With the shelves in place I attached them with copper pipe hangers and brass screws.

I would like to see your similar projects. Put your link in the comments.


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