This is the story of how I built a glow in the dark Xbox table for my son, made from 100 year old reclaimed wood.
My oldest son, Kyle, requested that I build him a side table to go between his couch and loveseat. It couldn’t be too wide, and it should be about the height of the armrests for easy drink access. I measured the space, and the dimensions came out 12″ wide x 24″ deep x 24″ high. I didn’t have any really straight boards at the time that fit this build, so I decided to mill my own from boards I had – and put my recently purchased jointer and planers to good use.
This was the beginning. Last Fall I purchased some 2″ x 6″ oak boards (top) from a farmer who had part of his barn fall down. He sold me some 100 year old barn wood, and these oak planks (which were nailed to the wall for saddles and tools to hang on). The smaller 2″ x 2″ (bottom) I bought from a sawmill as “grey wood” (which sits outside after it is milled). It usually has some type of defect, as you can see from the knot/crotch in the middle. As bad as it looks, these usually mill down to become some beautiful wood. Top plank I believe is oak, bottom I believe is maple.
You can see from the side view the big oak plank had a bunch of nails in it (which I pulled out).
First step was to cut down the plank to the usable table length I wanted.
Next we stopped by the jointer for bunch of passes to make this thing flat. You can start to see the real beauty of the wood coming out here for the first time.
Looking pretty good after the planer, now it’s time to saw this thing in half.
Using the table saw and side fence, in 2 passes I cut this plank pretty similar sized pieces. As close as I could get them anyway.
Next step was to glue the 2 pieces together to make 1 piece wide enough for the table top. I believe this is the first time I’ve ever glued a table top together like this before.
I did the exact same thing to create a shelf table, milled another piece from the same oak plank, ran it through the jointer, cut in half, then planed it out and glued it up.
So we’ve skipped a few steps here (of course), but the right is the glued up table top with rounded ends (cut on the band saw), and the left is the shelf table, with notches cut (on the scroll saw) to align with the shelf brackets. Inside are the 2 front and back leg supports. Table top will be glued on top, shelf will rest on shelf supports. After I glued up the legs, the next day I went back through and drilled three 4″ holes on each side for dowel rod plugs (for added strength).
Here’s a picture of the first glue up with the shelf added.
Another shot with the shelf without as much sun. You can see the dowel rod plugs better here.
Here’s a final pic of what it looked like once I rubbed the bottom assembly down with some Danish oil. Danish oil is part varnish and part Linseed oil, so it really enhanced the natural color of the wood (without adding too much color to it). It’s enough to protect the wood for many years, but I’ll be adding shellac to make sure that it’s more durable.
So I hadn’t glued the top yet because I needed to carve out the xbox logo in the table top. I printed it out and glued to the top with some spray adhesive. Then I carefully carved it out with the router. This was the first time I’ve used a full sized router to carve something out of wood.
If you’re interested in carving a design in wood, this is how I did it:
- Print out the image you want to carve (usually in black and white). Spray the back of the paper with 3M Super 45 Spray Adhesive and adhere it to the wood (smoothing it out as you do).
- The Whiteside SC50 Carving Liner Bit was what I used to do the carving at about a 1/8″ depth. You could use either a palm or normal sized router.
- Once you’re done with the carving, rub mineral spirits liberally on the remaining paper, and remove. I keep a paint scraper handy to get the last remaining bits off.
I purchased some epoxy on Amazon, as well as some glow in the dark powder to mix in it. Expoxy was about $16, and the glow in the dark powder was $8.
This is what I purchased if you want to try it for yourself:
- I mixed up some Loctite Heavy Duty Epoxy for this project. I chose it because I like this brand, but also because it was a smaller amount. Many of the epoxies you have to buy as much as $30 or $40 worth at a time.
- I mixed 1/4 Ounce Neon Green Glow in the dark Powder in the epoxy, but you could use any color. Once you click the link look at the related items, or click the seller link – they have lots of other colors.
This was the first time using epoxy, and I had never done anything glow in the dark before. I mixed about 1/2 bottle of resin and 1/2 bottle hardener, as well as 1/2 of the pack of glow in the dark powder. You have to work pretty quickly, it’s only about 5 minutes before the epoxy sets and gets hard. I also heard that it was really hard to get the bubbles out, and to use a hair dryer to help them rise to the top. You might be interested in seeing what I did with the other half of the glow in the dark powder I had left over.
First issue, turns out the amount of epoxy I mixed was probably 2x more than I needed. Also, hair dryer helped get most of the bubbles out – but not all. Next time I will be using a torch for sure (as I’ve seen some other people do online). Another lesson learned is that epoxy is HARD. VERY hard. To give you some idea, I had to sand this for about 2 hours on 80 grit, and an additional 30 minutes on 120 grit just to get the it back down to the design and wood again.
So this was the result of that 2 1/2 hours of sanding. You can see the (white) areas where I couldn’t fully get all of the bubbles out. I’ve read this is the hardest part of working with epoxy. It will definitely take some trial and error in the future if I work with it again. All in all for the first time, I think it worked out pretty good.
After I rubbed the top with Danish oil and let it dry, it was time to glue the top onto the base.
Using the reclaimed wood, I think that the natural defects (that don’t completely sand out) give the piece some added character.
This picture was taken after the glue dried for 1 day, and 3 really heavy coats of shellac. I softened out the rough edges and did the final smoothing with some fine steel wool, then polished it with some Formby’s furniture polish. I like the different colors and textures of the wood that really stand out.
Here’s a picture of the xbox table at it’s final resting place at Kyle’s house.
And here is a shot of the glow in the dark feature. If the table gets enough light during the day it charges the logo to make it glow in the dark at night or anytime there is low light. I tried to get the glow in the dark powder color to match the Xbox logo as closely as I could. This project was about 5 weeks (working part time), and I think it was well worth it. This table should not only last for years, but be something cool for my son to show people when they come over for years to come.