The Custom Furniture Process

I mentioned back in June for the first time that my brother, husband, and I opened an Etsy shop and are selling our custom furniture pieces. Well F2 Furniture got it's official first order about two weeks ago! A friend of a friend ordered one of our dining benches, along with a coffee and side table and we have been working on those orders for the past few weeks. The bench is my brother's design so he built that in his garage then drove it up to Austin this past weekend. The coffee and side tables are based off a pallet desk we built a few months ago, and since I'm trying to take on more of the building process, I've spent many evenings in the garage with the miter saw, belt sander and cordless screwdriver putting those pieces together. They aren't 100% complete yet, and I want the buyer to see the finished piece first, but I thought it'd be fun to share some of my progress photos here.

The coffee and side table design were loosely based off this pallet desk we built a few months ago and sell in our Etsy shop. The buyer sent me dimensions for a coffee and side table, and asked for a shelf to be added to each for storage purposes.

The desk is a pretty simple design and a great price because the top is made of locally found pallet wood (free!). Pallets can sometimes be difficult to track down, especially because it's important to know where they came from and what they were transporting (no toxins or pesticides!). Thankfully, a small computer company across the street from my office had several pretty attractive pallets outside their office and were happy for me to take them off their hands. I spent several hours two weekends ago taking them apart which is a very slow, tedious process involving a crowbar and hammer.

Once I had all the new pallet wood taken apart, I picked out the best quality pieces then cut each to size, glued the pieces together and clamped overnight.

Next comes all of the most intricate parts of the building process and where a second person really comes in handy! I like a sturdier wood for the edging of pallet pieces, so we cut a 1 x 3 select pine to size and secured to the sides of each table. Then we added another piece on the backside of each top as extra support for the legs (picture two parallel pieces of wood on the inside).

Once we had the sides and inside frame attached, then comes the long sanding process! This is the next part where working with pallet wood is a bit tricky. Pallet wood tends to curve slightly and rarely fits together seamlessly. This look definitely works with some pieces but for desks and tables, you need drinks and food to sit at an even level, which means a lot of sanding to get a smooth, clean look! Also, I'm a bit of a perfectionist, especially when building for someone else, so I may have obsessed and spent even more time than usual on the sanding process. I start with a belt sander with a coarser grit paper for the large curves, then move onto an orbital sander with a medium grit to smooth everything out, and I finish with a palm sander and very fine grit paper on all the edges.

Once both pieces were smooth as butter, we added the legs and shelf braces. Since we used 2 x 2s as the legs for the pallet desk, we decided to use the same style on these and cut those based on the buyer's request. Once we added the legs, I cut a 1 x 2 to size as a support beam for the shelves on each table. The shelves were made out of the same pallet wood as the tops, cut to size, glued and clamped. The coffee table was completed this past weekend and I literally danced around the garage out of excitement (ignore the un-puttied holes and naked wood).

I finished the construction of the side table on Sunday and puttied all the holes in preparation for staining. I got the first coat of stain on all three pieces last night and am planning to finish the rest of the staining process right after work. The buyer and I exchanged a few emails and texts in advance of the building process and she requested a customized paint application like these photos.

The bench is (hopefully!) going to look similar to the one in the photo directly above and then the tables will have white bases with stained tops, like the first photo, which is why you stain the entire piece first then paint on top of the stain (so you see the stain when the paint is slightly chipped). I have never used milk paint before so I'm following instructions I found on Ana White. I ordered the same Milk Paint brand she uses in her tutorial since it's based out of the states and we're trying be as local as possible. The polyurethane I'll be using needs 48 - 72 hours to fully dry so I'm hopeful I can get that on tonight since the buyer is picking up Friday.

I promise final photos once the buyer has picked up the finished pieces, and I'll definitely let you know if the milk painting process is as simple as Ana White makes it look!