October 5, 2013

Plundering, Thievery, and Other Shenanigans

We have some family members (technically they are distant cousins, but they’re really more of friends to us) who live in Columbus, on a street where there are unfortunately a few homes that have been let go back to the mortgage companies.  It’s a pretty common problem in Central Ohio, and some neighborhoods like up around the Linden, Kenmore Park, and Oakland Park areas have been hit especially hard due to the predatory lenders that handed out loans like candy over the past several years.  

We were visiting at their house over the summer and got to talking about a house that is a few doors down from them that had recently been repossessed by the bank.  The detached garage had a broken down door, so we decided to take a stroll over and see if there was anything worthwhile inside, or if maybe there were some things that needed to be thrown away so they didn't attract pests.  There were so many pieces of garbage inside that garage, including an old wooden cable spool kinda like this one: 

I saw it and thought about swiping it to use for a project, but I didn't want to draw much attention since the residents across the alley were out on their back porch singing Kumbaya or something like that.  Interesting neighbors.   I found some other discarded items in the garage - some vintage Life Magazines (one of which was from June 1969 - the Apollo moon landing); also a neat old Reader’s Digest book.  Those items I was able to remove pretty stealthily, but I left the spool in the garage for fear that someone would call the cops on me for (basically) cleaning out the trash.

About a month and a half later I was back at our cousins' house, this time for their daughter's birthday party.  I took a few minutes to casually stroll down the alley and happened to notice that the spool was still in the garage.. obviously the door was still breached.  A quick removal and a drop over the neighbor’s fence into the back alley was all that was needed, and it was all mine!  Unfortunately I didn't think about spiders or other creepy crawlies until I got this thing hauled into the back of my car... good thing I had some duct tape with me (doesn't everyone carry it around in their car?) so I covered all of the holes in the spool so I could at least get it home without a brown recluse spider crawling out and murdering me.  I was absolutely sure that this would have happened, had I not sealed it inside of the spool with pink duct tape.  Have I ever mentioned that I don't like HATE spiders? 

I got the spool home and dissected it...  the "core" of it was nothing but cardboard, so I had to build a new center for support.  I used some scrap 2x4's and stood them on end in a pattern that kind of resembles something from a quilting class:

Once I had the center built, I added 3/4" hardwood dowels around the perimeter.  Part for decoration, part for stability, and part as book dividers.  The dowels were counter-sunk into the top disc of the spool using a 3/4" spade drill bit, then I ran 1-1/2" wood screws up through the bottom and into the center of each dowel, which I pre-drilled to prevent splitting.  

I put the metal rods back through the spool to hold it all together (there's actually nothing else bonding the top to the bottom, since the dowels are not pinned around the top), then I shot it with a few five coats of spray paint and added four swivel casters to the base so I could roll it around or spin it, if needed.  

I dragged it into my living room and started filling it with books... and more books, and even MORE books - fifty-five in all!!  I was shocked at what fit on this little coffee table! 

I am loving the final result - a perfectly functional and fun table, that I spent only about $15 building (dowels and spray paint).  Added bonus?  It's a movable footstool for my couches, and no one could ever say yell, "Get your feet off the coffee table!" because it's not a coffee table - it's just something I threw together using scrap wood and a spool that was otherwise destined for the landfill. 

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