I get an urgent call one afternoon from my dad telling me I needed to come immediately and rescue a china cabinet set out for bulk pickup. Little did I know at the time, this china cabinet would evolve into THREE rescue and restyle projects. More on that later.
Although it wasn't much to look at, the cabinet was in perfect condition and built from two-inch solid oak. They definitely don't make them like that anymore. The oak alone would cost a fortune if bought today!
As soon as I saw the hutch, I knew the design was perfect to convert to a barrister-style bookcase.
My dad doesn't get excited at much but from the beginning it held an attachment for him. He couldn't get over someone discarding such a high-quality piece of furniture. I was elated because it was free and a valuable opportunity to create a special surprise gift for my dad.
The hutch was missing a top and bottom so we needed to build both in order to use as a bookcase.
We decided on a plank-style top so Triple Threat got to work. The top only had a 1/4" thin wood panel covering the opening, hardly enough to support a heavy oak top. So the first step was to build a base to support the top. He used some common 2 x 4's and attached them to the sides and front of the case. None of the weight is sitting on that thin panel.
Next, he took a massive 10 foot x 8 inch piece of oak and cut it into 3.5" strips. He planed them to the perfect thickness to match the existing rails and stiles for a completely flat surface. Then he used a router to put a 45 degree edge along the length of each board. This produces the plank look when the boards are laid next to each other. The boards were then attached by gluing them to the base he created. Once the top was built, I stained it with General Finishes One Coat Wonder, Java gel stain.
Next up was building a new bottom to match the top.
The bottom was even worse than the top as it was completely missing. It was just a hole! So Triple Threat decided to cut a plywood base to fill the hole. He created several more planks exactly like the top and attached them to the plywood base using wood screws. He screwed from the plywood side up into the oak board so the screws wouldn't be visible. He purposely made the length of the panel a little long so the whole panel could be trimmed to fit as one piece.
The size of the panel had to be the exact size of the opening so there would be no gap when put into place. This cut had to be perfect. They say measure twice and cut once, but he measured three times before he cut. He lined up the cut, and clamped his aluminum level in place to use as a saw guide. Using his Ryobi jigsaw, he made the cut. It cuts straight and true and with zero mess with the vacuum hose attached.
When the bottom was finished, I got a brilliant idea to let my son create a special drawing on the underside for his grandpa. It would be hidden but just knowing it was there would be meaningful for the whole family.
I loved that our whole family contributed to making this bookcase a special gift for my dad.
Triple Threat then attached the base. He used pocket screws all the way around the panel to attach it to the case. The outdated golden oak color of the bookcase desperately needed a makeover. Luckily, there's salvation in can known as Java gel stain. Seriously, I don't think there's anything it can't fix.
One of the best things about Java gel is not being forced to sand to bare wood for fantastic results. It is a dream y'all!
I cleaned the entire bookcase first with a 50/50 mixture of denatured alcohol and water. I simply mixed in a spray bottle, spritzed on and wiped clean.
Next, I lightly sanded with 320# sandpaper to give the gel stain better adhesion and then it was prepped and ready for its javalicious makeover.
Changing the outdated oak to warm and wonderful truly makes it looks like a fine piece of furniture now.
Meet my dad. Can you tell he's thrilled that he gets to keep this beauty?
One of my favorite parts is this plank top. The grain of the slats perfectly matches the existing frame. It is so seamless, you'd never know it wasn't original.
Now that project #1 of this china cabinet restyle is finished, stay tuned to see how we make TWO more pieces come alive out of the base. It's gonna be awesome, I promise!