I thought I’d share a project that I have been working over a couple of months now. When I moved into my new apartment we realized there wasn’t room, or a need, to have our desk anymore. This decision was solidified when the desk fell apart while moving which helped make the decision easy for us. This would mean that the chair that went with the desk was obsolete, and was to be thrown out. I thought that it would be cool to try and use the bottom part of the chair for a bonsai turntable.
I went to Lowe’s and found a tabletop made of pine and decided I would finish it, and attach it to the lower part of the chair. You would think that this would be, and it should have been, an inexpensive project. Basically by preserving a piece of the furniture as salvage parts adding a top shouldn’t cost so much. Yes, if you are a carpenter and you have all the tools, equipment, and materials handy, it can be done cheaply. Unfortunately it adds up after you have to buy stain, lacquer, brushes, clothes sandpaper, screws and washers, latex gloves, and the top itself. The top only cost $14 or so, so I would think it could be done for a lot less then what I paid.
I then went ahead and sanded down the top. I used sand blocks and started with a rougher grit, down to a finer finishing grit. I spent a good hour or so I would think sanding the top down. Then I went ahead to the staining.
I went with a darker stain because most of our furniture is dark brown, and I thought I’d get my fiancee’s input. She’s the boss. This is the first time I have ever stained anything so I was a little hesitant, but man the results were great. It felt great to see the wood soak up the stain and really bring out the grains in the wood. I left it on a bit on the longer side so It got as dark as I wanted it too. After two coats I was ready to apply the varnish.
Up to here everything went great. Then when it was time to apply the varnish, I made a bit of a mistake. If you look in the pictures I hadn’t attached the top to the chair part yet, and I was staining both sides. I decided that I would varnish the bottom first, then flip over onto the trash bag that kept the chair from getting stain on it, and then varnish the top. I went ahead and did this and things looked great. The next day when I went to go sand down the first layer of varnish, I realized that I had varnished the top first, then put the top on the trash bag an then went ahead and applied to the bottom. This meant the top’s varnish was all messed up from drying on to the trash bag, and basically the varnish aspect was ruined. I tried sanding the varnish down in the areas that were rippled, and it ended up getting down to the wood and making it an uneven stain. I was really upset but decided that it had to be done again. I got an electric sander, and repeated the steps I had already done. I left the coat of varnish and stain on the bottom part, and attached the bottom to the chair for the first time using shims for adjustments.
I used the new sander and brought everything on the top and sides back to raw wood. I then again, fine sanded by hand. I sanded for about an hour and a half total I would think. I reapplied the stain still frustrated that I had messed up the first time. It took me a few weeks to getting around to doing the varnishing, which was still very new to me. I had a hard time applying the varnish equally. I applied the first coat, then lightly sanded even. Then I applied the second coat and sanded lightly again. I carefully and caustiously put on the third coat of varnish and now I am happy with the results.
I haven’t got to work on any trees on it yet, but I will say I really like the way it turned out. I think it will help when I do get to work on the trees and in the meantime, it looks pretty good in our living room. I am thinking of making or attaching some sort of locking mechanism like you see on most bonsai turntables, but for now I am just enjoying it the way it is.