So the sun came out again this weekend which mean ottoman building was the order of the day. If you caught our previous post, you’ll realise that weather good enough for ottoman construction has been a little bit of a rarity of late so we woke up this weekend raring to go.
To recap on our ottoman master plan; we really wanted to build something to replace our coffee table which recently got re-homed to become stand for our new TV, and lovely it is too! (the old coffee table that is, although I guess the TV is nice in its own way :D). We spied quite a few we liked. My favorite was this one we spied at ANTA:
Sadly we didn’t have £875 down the back of the couch so decided to try our hand at making one for ourselves for a fraction of the price. The specs said this ottoman was “Made in the Highlands with solid oak legs and finished by hand” impressive huh? By my reckoning, handmade by Sam and I in Edinburgh sounded pretty close to this description, however, solid oak legs we’re always going to be a little tricky as anyone who has tried to find timber on a budget in the UK will tell you.
So where had we got to? Well, after shipping in our foam back with us from our holiday in New England, thanks to a massive Memorial Day Weekend sale at JoAnn Fabrics, we set to work building the frame from 2″ x 4″ timber. The frame will all be hidden under upholstery eventually, so there wasn’t really a need for it to be particularly pretty, just very solid and strong.
For those of you doing the sums, the foam, frame and screws brought our grand total spend to £50.
We left off last time humming and haring about whether we would sit the foam over upholstery tape or a piece of board. After pondering the likelihood of someone over zealously bounding over the ottoman (it can happen) and the risk of said person putting their foot right through the upholstery tape, we opted to use a board. So first order of the day was to go get a piece of board to fit.
Fortunately for the power-tool-less DIY enthusiasts like us, our local hardware store are happy enough to cut board to size for you and so without all that much effort on my part we had a piece of 1/2″ MDF cut exactly to size (24″ x 35″). This added another £12 to the bill, but definitely money well spent if it avoids any foot-through-the-ottoman disasters (Sam won’t mind me telling you, she’s occasionally a little accident prone) :D.
So onto the much more tricky, especially on a tight budget, business of finding oak to make the ottoman legs. Bearing in mind we were looking at £15 for enough generic planed timber from the hardware store to do the job, I was a little concerned this was going to be the point we abandoned our brief and had to make something “oak-effect” instead (which wouldn’t be a disaster, but a bit less ideal).
Before giving in and making our own , I suggested to Sam that we try going to a thrift store to see if we could find anything which might have legs we could steal. A quick Google search pointed us in the direction of the Edinburgh Furniture Initiative. I’m not sure how we hadn’t found this place before, but it turned out to be a bit of an Aladdin’s cave of unwanted furniture!! The extra icing on the cake is that all the proceeds go to a local Edinburgh homeless charity. So, we decided to pop in.
Whilst places like this are always fun to have a nosy around, I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t really expect to find anything which totally matched up with what we were looking for. We wandered through rows and rows of wardrobes, dining tables, side boards, couches and saw lots of things which would make fun restoration projects, but drew a bit of a blank on the legs front.
On our way out of the store we spotted a collection of coffee tables we had missed, and sitting proudly stacked table on table, was a rather sad looking wooden coffee table which had chunky legs pretty much exactly as I planned for our ottoman! It was, however, glowing a somewhat orange colour from years of varnish and lacquer build up, usually the tell-tale sign of 70’s pine furniture :S I had a look at the price tag, £15. It wasn’t necessarily the steal of the century but I figured maybe it would work, if nothing else it would save us heading back to the hardware store for the second time that day.
I grabbed the table down from the stack, or at least tried to before realising the thing weighed an absolute tonne! I flipped it upside down to have a peek and low and behold the reason it was so darned heavy was that it was actually made from solid oak – JACKPOT! (picture us doing a little happy dance, right there in the shop!)
From nowhere we had found the perfect solid oak legs we had set out to find and for only £15. 5 minutes later the coffee table was ours, so we hopped back in the car and back to ottoman central. And isn’t she perfect (well if you look beyond the totally gross finish and years of grime build up obviously!):
So first things first we whipped the legs off the table and got our first glimpse of some of the untreated wood. Each leg was bolted to the old table with, well a big old bolt, and after A LOT of encouragement with some pliers, they finally separated company to leave us with 4 lengths of oak and 4 bolts. Whilst fighting with the bolts it occurred to me we might be able to reuse them to bolt the legs to the ottoman and save a few pennies on extra hardware. Screwing the bolt through my frame and the legs would make for a pretty secure joint, but fear not, more on that in a bit.
This is definitely the moment in the day when the real work began. It was time to sand years of varnish of my beautiful oak. We started out with some fairly fine grain sandpaper and soon realised it was definitely not going to cut it, as the old lacquer was quickly clumping up on the paper; so a quick detour to the local hardware store for some rougher grain sandpaper to take off the thickest of the varnish and we were well on our way. It definitely took a bit of hard graft but the end product was totally worth it!
Once the wood was all sanded and good to go, it was finally time to chop it up into legs for the ottoman (I wasn’t quite picturing it being 2 ft tall, like the coffee table was :)).
We seem to have managed not to take any pictures of me sawing the wood to length, which is probably a bit of a blessing since it was seriously hot, by Scottish standards at least and I wasn’t exactly a pretty sight at the end of it! For those lucky people out there with an electric mitre saw this will take 2 minutes, for other poor souls like myself cutting perfectly flat straight cuts by hand was a little tiring and time consuming but fairly straightforward. We marked out and cut each leg 5″ in length. We did some sums to add up what the total height of the final ottoman would be with the frame and foam and decided that seemed about right as it made it 2 ” shorter than our couch seats.
So now we got to the important business of attaching the legs to the frame. As I mentioned before, we saved the bolts that had originally attached the old coffee table legs to the top. So we drilled a hole into the top of each of my freshly cut oak legs. I then glued and hammered the bolts into the top of the legs.
In much the same way I then drilled a hole into each corner of the ottoman frame. It is super important to double check the holes line up with where the bolts are placed in the oak legs or your ottoman will be all a bit squiffy.
A decent helping of wood glue and the legs were ready to be screwed in.
It’s fair to say that the legs were pretty solidly fixed at this point, but knowing that our ottoman would probably end up being used as a chair/table/stepping stool/trampoline in its lifetime I wanted to make doubly sure everything was secure so I added a small bracket to the top of each leg to secure things a little more.
It wasn’t long until all 4 legs were attached and ta-dah we had something which is slowly taking shape:
The last job of the day was to fix the mdf board to the ottoman (I figure it’s beginning to look ottoman-y enough to start calling it an ottoman). This was super simple, we just glued and screwed it down and hey presto all the woodwork was done!:
Next step is adding the foam and upholstering the whole lot!
I don’t know about you, but that felt like quite a lot for one day to me, so adding in the foam and upholstering the ottoman we will cover in a whole post of it’s own.