Upcycling Doors Into Furniture: Step 1 – Planning and Cutting

For those who don’t know, I live with someone who loves to walk through alleys in the hopes of finding treasure. A lot of times what he brings home is trash IMHO, but every once in a while he brings something cool home. Something that sparks an idea.

Like this door!

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Initially we planned on replacing one of the doors in our apartment with this door. However, once we discovered that it was too tall for any of our doorways, we put it on the back porch knowing that someday we’d find a use for it.

Then along came Pinterest with it’s many pictures of re-purposed vintage doors, which sparked the idea of the door couch (our old couch was put out of it’s misery last year after the dogs mangled it). So the hunt for another vintage wooden door began.

These little rascals are why we can’t have anything nice for long.

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Unfortunately or fortunately depending on how you look at it, they’re adorable cuddle bugs that I can’t stay mad at for long.

Anyway…after about a year of searching my local Craigslist and Freecycle off and on for doors, I finally hit the jackpot! Last weekend I bought three solid wooden doors off a girl for $10 a piece. Nick and I lugged them home and spent last weekend cutting them down into various pieces of furniture (a couch, a bench and an end table)!

Our first step before cutting was to draw plans for our various pieces of furniture. Nick measured our futon to get an idea of what measurements we wanted the couch to be and then together we measured and marked the wood before cutting.

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I’m still learning the basics of power tools and I find the table saw incredibly intimidating. I get anxious just by watching Nick cut things with it. So for now I’m content to assist with feeding the wood through and keeping an eye out for things that might possibly get Nick’s arm chopped off, like falling doors or Spike, our neighbor’s cat:

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Things to remember when using a table saw:

1) Measure and plan BEFORE you cut!

2) Make sure there aren’t any nails or other metal bits anywhere in the wood near where you’ll be cutting or you just might see sparks fly and worry about your limbs as the wood bucks. Bucking wood = uneven cuts = wobbly furniture  = FAIL

3) Clear the area of cats, dogs, large pieces of wood that might potentially fall on you and/or the saw if the wind were to pick up, etc.

4) Wear protective eye gear so you don’t get flying wood debris in your eyes, like I did. Note: I have since bought myself a pair of goggles for future projects.

5) A bandana or mask to keep you from inhaling the saw dust isn’t a bad idea either, ’cause pulling your t-shirt up over your mouth and nose isn’t very effective (trust me – I tried).

6) If you’re cutting a large piece of wood make sure to set up a table nearby to help support the wood, so you get an even cut, like you see below. We simply used Nick’s workbench with a couple of bricks and some scraps of wood we had lying around.

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We purposefully designed our door couch (below) to have no arm rests, so there are less places for the dogs to mangle when they get anxious. Two of the doors I got had a neat scallop to them, which gives them a bit of visual interest, which is why we decided to also make a bench and end table out of them. Unfortunately the two scalloped doors I got don’t match, so the ends of our couch won’t look exactly the same, but I think it will still look cool.

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After we cut each piece of wood we measured it again and/or tested our prototype to make sure everything was cut correctly and fit well together.

Here’s our bench prototype before assembly with an anxious, Ian, looking on:

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And here’s the top of our end table:

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I’m excited to see what our finished products looks like!!

Next up – assembly. I get to use a power drill!!

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