Crafts Crafts

Arched Shutter Side Table

I saw this article in a magazine about a year ago (I think it was Southern Living) with a project of converting old gothic windows into a large side table. I loved the idea and have had it in the back of my mind every since.

Not too long ago while hunting through a salvage yard I came across this pair of old arched shutters. I loved the faded red paint and thought with just one I could make the perfect side table or sofa table. Into the car it went.

I wanted to top the shutter with an old rectangular shutter. I few hunts on eBay and I found the perfect sized shutter, won the auction and when it arrived it was perfect. I would top this shutter with glass I’d have cut to fit to make a smooth tabletop surface.

I sat down and drew a rough concept drawing. I planned on working on this mostly at the Woodworkers Shop in Norwalk which I am a member of. Not only because of it’s size, but because I knew it would require tools that I didn’t own. Having the shop expert to advise me sounded like a pretty good idea too.

The first thing I had to do was glue the whole shutter together. It was quite old and a lot of the old joints were loose and it was completely separated from the frame that it fit into. A lot of wood glue, a lot of clamps and a night to dry and it was all ready to start working on.

My intitial idea was that I would need to cut off the peak of the shutter in order to get a flat surface to set the “top” shutter on. However, when I consulted with Dan at the Woodworkers Shop he thought we could cut out the center piece of the arch and wedge a piece into it that we’d custom design and cut that would allow us to use the entire arch. So, that’s what set out to do. It was hard work. Not in the physical sense, but there were tons of old nails embedded in the old wood so there was lots of digging with chisels and pliers before we could actually saw anything. Then I leveled off the cuts so the piece I made would sit evenly in the arch.

Then Dan helped me design the insert that would become the support for the shutter tabletop. The piece of wood we had was a little thick for the width of the mid-section we removed, so I ran the wood through the planer a few times to bring the thickness down a little. We eyeballed a pleasing curve for one side and then mirrored that design on the other side. I cut it out on a jigsaw and then sanded it with the oscillating sander they have which is so cool. Then I got to take it home and beat the crap out of it! I took length of chains and hammers and files and tried to get it to look as distressed as possible, trying to get this new piece to more closely match the look of the original shutter. Then I used red milk paint to paint it.

I didn’t love the way the red’s were so different, so I sanded it some more and just “lived with it” for awhile. Milk paint’s color does change a bit as it ages. I thought I would mix up a bunch of red, brown and orange milk paint together and throw a light wash over the red, but in the end I ended up just leaving it the original red I painted it.

To make the shutter lay flat like a tabletop instead of bend on it’s hinges I probably should have put some dominos into the seam where the hinges were, but in the interest of saving time (read: cutting corners) I just screwed some short pieces of oak along the hinge seam for stability. Then I screwed the shutter top into the base, filled the screw holes with wood filler, and sanded it clean. As you can see in the second photo below, At first I didn’t use enough braces on the tabletop shutter and the glass didn’t lay flat. I fixed that now and the tabletop shutter is flat and the glass lays properly on it.

I love the way it came out. It is exactly as I envisioned it. Now if I only had a good place to put it…

The finished Table

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