Friday, November 28, 2014

The Elusive Card Catalogs and How I Repurposed Mine!

Ah the rare and oh-so-hard-to-come-by card catalog! Even when you can find them, they will cost you a pretty penny! I did manage to score these two (they actually fit on top of one another) for what I thought was a pretty good deal. Almost two for the price of one! These came from Los Angeles Trade Tech College and are made of solid oak.  Stick with me as I give you a little tutorial on how I turned one of these into something very unique and one-of-a-kind finish! 
Since my plan was to redo them and sell them, I would make more money by splitting them up and selling as two separate pieces. I thought about putting them side by side, like a buffet, but that would have been a pretty hefty price. Not sure I would have been able to unload it. 
I decided to do the one above and make a custom top using oak strips in a herringbone pattern.
Yes, very labor intensive. I've documented the process in the following pics, but I can tell you it was about two weeks worth of work. 
First up is to take this beauty apart and strip her down! 
I had to use a razor to get off the taped numbers. 
Soy Gel stripper took care of the old finish which was then scraped off with a plastic putty knife. (In my joy of doing this process, I guess I forgot to snap pics  ;) 
I found an extra board that was the right size to fit in the middle while the stain on the body was drying.  I used some sort of walnut shade. I also had the other half make a frame to go around the top out of the same oak I was going to use for the pieces. 
The frame has to be square! I'm not the best at that so had him help out! Use a finishing nail gun to attach it to the body.  Fill in the holes, sand and stain.  Before you start with your Jenga pieces, find your center up and across and start your first piece there. Make sure you come up even on both sides. I should have started a little more to the left.
 I went to the lumberyard and bought some white oak planks and ripped them down into 1" widths. Then I determined what size I wanted the herringbone and cut them into 5" lengths. If you missed my post on my sons headboard/art wood piece where I did pretty much the same thing, you can see that HERE.  As for the herringbone pattern, the process is the same that we did for the herringbone ceiling in my living room,,,,HERE.  So, first thing to remember is all of your pieces have to be identical. Make a jig when you cut these. If not, it will throw off your pattern! As it was, these boards are not perfectly straight. Some were bowed and it does cause  some problems when lining up your pieces.

You will get some gaps. I take care of this later. 
               Math is important here! For some reason my ends came out differently even though
               I started dead center and worked outward. It was probably because when I laid my
                                                         first piece, I was over the line. 
 Not a huge deal. It just made cutting those little triangle pieces a little more challenging.
Thanks dear. (didn't want to lose a finger. I let him do the small ones.) 
 After everything was laid, I went over it with the sander a few times. Save your sawdust from the cuttings! They come in handy to fill those gaps I was talking about. I brushed them in and made sure they were filled as best as I could. I also used wood filler. Then I sanded very lightly by hand.
Up close you can see the shavings embedded in the gaps. Don't use wood glue to make them stick! Wood glue does not like stain and you will get uneven white spots! I used about 2 cups of shavings. press them in the gaps and use wood filler here and there. Be careful when using a sander after you do this as it will suck out most of your shavings! Just do a finishing sanding after the shavings.
 Voila! Wiped it down with mineral spirits to clean up everything prior to staining. 
The wood grain really pops after the stain! 
 Couple of coats of GF Urethane and brass polish and elbow grease on the hardware!  

 And properly staged after adding some hairpin legs:

 Wine bar anyone???! 
An old friend of mine saw this and immediately wanted to buy it.
However, she is tiny! Only 4'11. Barely ;)   So I traded in the legs above and
 exchanged them for the 20" hairpins below. Now she can gaze down upon the beautiful top!
Sorry for the garage photo. Wasn't lugging this inside to stage again!
 And I fixed that middle-right drawer. The other pictures highlighted a staining/sanding flaw that just drove me crazy! So I stripped off the finish and redid it. Much better!

Domestically Speaking - The Power of Paint Party   DIY Vintage Chic-Friday


  1. Lovely, Beth! That hard work paid off. Fun seeing this one come together, and you're right, it's a perfect wine bar! :)

  2. Beth, this is soooooo great! I went out to your Etsy shop to see if it was anywhere in the neighborhood of something I could afford to buy, but I didn't see it out there yet. Meanwhile, I'll continue my own elusive hunt for a card catalog. I think the tall hairpin legs are the perfect pairing for this beauty. Beautiful work, as always. Christina

  3. Hi, Just came over from Funky junk interiors.. Your card catalog transformation is incredible.. I LOVE LOVE the top!! Great job!


  4. Incredible! I love everything about this! Fabulous job!

  5. Beth, you are so incredibly talented. I love the modern touch you added to this vintage piece. Thanks for putting together this awesome tutorial. I will certainly try this myself when the right piece of furniture comes around. Great job!