There’s something about garage sales that I always find exciting. Other people’s unwanted junk can often yield some pretty awesome treasures… not to mention deals.
Last year, a family friend was selling the house that I had remembered them living in forever. We decided to go to her garage sale to see if there was anything we wanted. We picked up a few underliners for plant pots, admired some furniture that we had no room for, and laughed at some of the things that people were scooping up. My eyes wandered over to a section where she was selling off garden tools. I headed straight over and hesitated for only a second before dumping all the tools and holding up the crate that they were sitting in to Scott.
“Cool crate!” he exclaimed. I agreed. It was stamped as originally containing metal files and coming from Winnipeg. I knew that the dad in this family, who had passed away when I was a child, was from there. Time spent with his family make up some of my happiest childhood memories, and I wanted a little piece of something that I could keep with me to remind me of that.
“Auntie!” I called out to our family friend. “How much for the crate?”
“You want the box?” she exclaimed. “Take it!”
And so we did. Originally I thought we could make it into a cool shelf, but Scott pointed out that that would hide the bottom of the crate that had all the stamps on it. He suggested a table.
We decided we wanted an old Singer sewing machine base for the legs. The hunt was on!
Sometimes the best way to find something is not to look for it. We were walking down to the River Market one day, via Antique Alley, when Scott noticed a very old Singer sewing machine base in front of an antique store. It was in rough shape and the treadle was broken, but otherwise, it was intact and exactly what we wanted. “$50,” the store owner answered our query about price. We hesitated. “$40 if you take it right now.”
Done! We hauled it into a nearby shop while Scott power walked back home to get the car. We didn’t know exact measurements of our crate, but eyeballing it, it looked pretty good. When we got it home, we realized the crate fit nicely between the tops of the legs, but we were going to need a good way to secure it all together and hide that attachment. That’s when we decided to add on to the area of the crate by building a frame around it.
We picked up some lumber, and after some careful measurements, cut the dimensions of what we needed.
We realized that the wood looked too new in comparison to the crate, though, and so I started researching natural staining techniques and found our answer. Using tea, coffee, and charcoal, I stained the wood to better tie in with the crate, and then we sealed it all by adding a urethane varnish to it.
We also needed to spruce up the base. Scott took a wire brush to it to clean off the rust (while wearing a proper ventilation mask, as we didn’t know if the original paint was lead based!)
We then used black Tremclad paint to cover up the old paint and make it look like new again, while protecting it from further rusting.
Using a pocket hole jig in order to hide the screw holes, we connected the four pieces of the frame that the crate would nestle into.
Next, we used l brackets and a power drill (my first experience with a power tool… which I loved!), and attached our stained wood to the crate. It may not seem the prettiest of methods, but we wanted to keep an industrial look.
Finally, we used bolts to attach the crate top to the sewing machine base. Since the base was mounted to wheels, and we didn’t want to wreck our hardwood laminate floor, we found some fancy tiles which we backed with felt, and sat the table on top of those.
Our table was complete. What started as a simple find at a garage sale transformed into a beautiful, purposeful piece for our home.