Category Archives: Furniture Building

Removing Wood Glue: Testing a Non-Toxic Solution

I tested out a trick for easily removing wood glue with a non-toxic solution on a vintage dresser, using something I already had in the house.  Here’s how it turned out!

This summer we added a new dresser to our master bedroom.  It’s a gorgeous vintage piece that I fell in love with a year ago, when I spied it in our favorite vintage shop in New Hampshire.Vintage Dresser Bedroom Printer Tray

Ryan and I actually purchased it then, intending to put it in Maple’s nursery.  But back pain and pregnancy complications meant we couldn’t return to pick it up until this summer.  In the mean time we found a cheaper vintage dresser for her room.

The good dresser was perfect for our master bedroom, since I’d had to move all my clothes into the master when I created the nursery.

When one of the glide rails for a drawer broke on my new dresser, I glued it back in place with lots of wood glue.  After it dried, I found that I couldn’t close the drawer because I’d glued the rail at an angle.

Removing wood glue seemed scary and nearly impossible without breaking the dresser.  The glue forms a really, really strong bond.  I searched online for ways to remove it, and was skeptical when I read that white vinegar would soften the glue.  Removing Wood Glue Easy Non Toxic Solution

But vinegar sounded better than removing wood glue with a toxic solvent, so I soaked some paper towels in vinegar and smooshed them around the rail, letting the liquid sit for a few hours.
Removing Wood Glue Easy Non Toxic Solution

Then I took a spackling scraper and slowly wedged it under the rail, loosening it bit by bit.  The vinegar had succeeded in softening the wood glue.  I had to add a little more vinegar to reach the middle of the rail where there was a lot of dried glue, but with patience I succeeded in removing the rail without damaging the wood.   Removing Wood Glue Easy Non Toxic Solution

*The wood didn’t sustain any lasting damage from all the vinegar soaking into it, but keep in mind that it was unfinished wood inside the dresser.  If you’re removing wood glue on the outside (finished) part of furniture, I think vinegar or any solvent would harm the finish.

easy and non-toxic wood glue removal trick

6-Foot Long DIY Hairpin Leg Desk

Wide Hairpin Leg Desk Title Image

This weekend I finished building a 6-foot modern hairpin leg desk for my office, and I have some tips on how to build it and prevent sagging across the long table top. This isn’t an official tutorial because there are so many good ones out there already.

The desk turned out great, and the long design gives me plenty of space to spread out my papers when I’m working.

If you’re interested in the construction details of the desk, read on. If not, just enjoy the photos!

My Trick for Preventing Sagging:

To prevent the 6-foot length of the desk top from sagging, I put a leg in the middle, by the back. I also framed the underside of the desk top to add a little more strength and stability, sort of like a torsion box. A torsion box is built like a grid of tiny squares to keep large flat surfaces from sagging or warping. It’s what Ikea uses in a lot of their furniture! It’s really cool, so if you’re interested in woodworking, read more about it here.

Modern Hairpin Leg Desk DIY Sag Support

Building the frame:

I used 2” x 2” boards and my Kreg Pocket Hole Jig and wood glue to build the frame that would bet attached to the underside of the desk.

Hairpin Leg Desk Frame Pocket Hole

After the frame was built I attached it to the underside of the desk using the Kreg. If you don’t have a pocket hole jig, you could just screw everything together from the outside.

*The Kreg Jig works on boards up to 1 ¾” in width, so I had to improvise to make it work. I could (and should) have used thinner boards.

I designed the frame to fit right inside the table legs, so it’s about 3 inches in from the edge. I didn’t want the frame starting at the edges of the desk top because I wanted the desk to have clean, simple lines – like a simple board on legs.

Hairpin Leg Desk Leg Detail

Finishing:

The desk top is a ¾” birch veneer plywood. I trimmed the edges of the plywood with Band-It wood veneer edging. It’s so easy to use – you iron it on, and if your placement is off, you can reheat it with the iron and try again.

I sanded the table lightly because the top is only a thin layer of veneer. I sanded the edges more heavily to even out where the top of the edge trim met the table top and bottom. The result is an almost flawless look of real wood edges.

Hairpin Leg Desk Edge Trim on Plywood

Finally, I stained and sealed the table using my process of wood conditioner, then stain, then polyurethane sealant (done outside because of fumes). You can read all about my wood finishing process here.

Don’t skip the step of sanding in between coats of poly sealant. I used extra-fine grit sandpaper, and the result is a sleek, smooth surface.

Hairpin Leg Desk Wide DIY No Sagging

Now that I finally have a nice, big workspace, the next step in the office is underway. I’m making my own wooden shelves to hack the Elfa wall unit behind the desk, just like I did in the nursery.

Looking for good building tutorials? My favorite resources are Ana White, Sawdust Girl, Pretty Handy Girl , Fine Woodworking, and Popular Woodworking.

Studio Update, Part 14: Converting My Sewing Table to Drop-Leaf

For months I’ve wanted to convert my handmade 7 x 4 foot sewing table into a drop-leaf table, simply because its massive size is sometimes more than I need in my 10 x 10 sewing studio.

Convert Table to Drop Leaf

Because the table was built from a thick sheet of plywood, trim molding, and screw-on Ikea desk legs, it was easy to modify.

Supplies needed:

  • 4 packs of Narrow Utility Hinges
  • 8 table legs

Process:

  1. I measured the height between the table top and the floor, because the two drop-leaves needed to be shorter than that distance so that they did not bump the floor when folded down.
  2. I used painter’s tape and a ruler to mark the cut lines.  Make the leaves at least 2″ shorter than the height of the table. IMG_0669
  3. Ryan made the two cuts using a circular saw while I held the table.  (His arms were longer.)IMG_0678
  4. I flipped the pieces upside-down when we were done, and then joined the pieces back together with hinges.  IMG_0679

    Attach Hinges to Drop Leaf Table

    Above you see one table leaf attached with two hinges. I decided to add 2 more, for a total of 4, just for better stability.

  5. I had to get Ryan’s help again to flip the table right-side up because it was super awkward now that the leaves were attached by hinges.

Voila! With one leaf extended and one leaf dropped down, the table is the right size for my large cutting mat but small enough that I have a lot more room in the sewing studio.

DSC_0051

In the spirit of total transparency, I will admit my frustration that the veneer top layer of the table splintered so much along each cut line.

DSC_0055

I sanded the rough edges, and I need to stain them to match.  The only problem? I mixed two stain colors when I made the table, and I have no idea what they were.  This weekend I’ll play around with stains and hopefully find a good match.

For now, however, I’m happy with the result.  The table is sturdy, functional, and most importantly – flexible!

DSC_0083

In case you missed it:

Janery Studio Makeover Part 10: Perfecting the Faux Built-Ins

The last glimpse I shared into the Janery Sewing Studio may have looked pretty decent, but there was a detail to the rental-friendly faux built-in shelving that needed to be addressed.  Since January is a quiet time for the shop, I decided to pull everything off the shelves and finally really finish the faux built-ins.

Ta-dah!

Janery Studio Faux Built In Shelves in a Rental

Here’s what was lacking: I originally had cobbled together a wide shelf with a lip to sit across my bottom IKEA cabinets.  I didn’t remove that before building the top shelving unit, but I should have.  When I finally removed it, I was left with an unfinished area between the shelves on the top and the cabinets on the bottom, which you can see here:

Janery Studo White Besta Doors-1

Here’s how I finished it off:

I joined a narrow board to the bottom of the shelving unit using my new Kreg jig, and thank goodness I had it, because it made it so easy.

Janery Stuio Shelves Process

 

The middle cabinet was actually a tall IKEA cabinet that we cut in half, so the top was unfinished. I cut a thin piece of trim to fit that little gap above the top drawer, and used clamps to carefully glue it in place.

Janery Stuio Shelves Process 2

Then I completed multiple rounds of sanding and painting and sealing.  When I was done, there was still a visible seam where the new board joined to the existing shelving, but I’m ok with that.

It doesn’t have to be perfect. 

Janery Studio Shelves Detail

I’m just satisfied that the shelves are truly done now.

Janery Studio Shelves

Next week: How I created my gold drawer handles to kick things up a notch.

PS: The Janery Winter Clearance sale is still going strong – save 50% on all the handmade pillows, pet beds, and accessories in my shop with the code CRAZY50.

In case you missed it: