How to add a walnut live edge to an industrial chest of drawers
October 26, 2016 | 7:49 am CDT
Last summer I purchased this industrial chest of drawers at a garage sale for a sweet $20. My original intent was to put it into the backyard shop at my house, since these cabinets are great for storing a huge amount of stuff. After completing our home remodel this spring, we realized we really needed a small table next to the front door to collect everything that one tends to “drop off” when coming home. I have really been on a re-purposing/industrial design kick lately, so my idea was to use this chest of drawers for storage and incorporate some woodworking to soften up the look a bit.
The cabinet was in great shape when we bought it. Absolutely no dents, dings, scrapes, etc. The prepping process, prior to painting, was as simple as removing the drawers and sanding all the metal surfaces with a medium grit 3″x4″ pneumatic sander.
I wanted to use some live edge material for the woodwork, since the organic nature of the live edge Walnut would juxtapose nicely with the cold, straight, man-made elements of the metal cabinet. Thankfully, we had a bunch of Walnut left over from a custom commission and this ratty end chunk was the perfect size for the top.
I decided to cut the left end off at an angle, following the original cut from the sawyer, cut the back and right faces square, and simply remove the bark from the front edge and lightly sanded the face.
I also had some nice long and narrow pieces left over from the same job, so one of them would work perfectly for a leg. Due to the width of the slab I was using for the top, I only had enough overhang to have one leg run the full height of the cabinet and butt into the underside of the top, and only if it terminated in the back left corner. Once again, constraints of the material were informing the final design of the piece, and I was loving it!
After I flattened the top with the widebelt, I used bar top epoxy to fill the huge crack in the right half. My impatience got the best of me, and I failed to mix the last layer thoroughly enough, and after two days it had still not fully hardened. I had to dig all of it out with a putty knife and repeated the process, this time making sure to mix the two parts well enough.
Using Sherwin William Kemkromic metal primer, I sprayed the exteriors and interiors of all the drawers and cabinet.
Prior to painting the metal or finishing the Walnut, I began to dry fit all the pieces. The right side of the top is parallel to the cabinet box, with just a slight 1/2″ overhang and the left side angles from a 1″ overhang at the front to a 4″ overhang at the back. That increased overhang allowed me to make the left leg full height.
The small right foot is an end cut from the top of the left leg. The cabinet still needed just a bit more stability, so I tucked in a non-descript block of Walnut along to back.
I finished the Walnut with several coats of sanding sealer and catalyzed lacquer, and the metal with some left over PPG automotive enamel.
The cabinet fits perfectly next to our front door, and with the 14 drawers at our disposal, we have no excuse to leave mail, keys, or other odds and end strewn about in the kitchen.
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