DIY: Up-cycled wooden side table decorated with chunks of old granite

If, like us, you have a taste for made-to-measure home furnishings, then you will love these up-cycled birch and granite side tables. Made using chunks of spare granite found in a Baltimore dumpster, these unique tables also tell a story of creativity with materials.

Granite side table 5

We liked the photos so much that we tracked down the table’s maker and asked him where he got the inspiration for the idea.

We found out that the maker has his own made-to-measure Etsy shop, so if you want to get your hands on a truly unique piece of furniture then definitely get in touch. Alternatively, if you fancy yourself a handy woodworker, then why not have a go yourself with our brief how-to DIY guide towards the bottom of this page.

As regular visitors to this blog will know, we love to work creatively with granite and other great materials to create truly unique pieces. But even we never would have thought to use chunks of surplus granite like Mr Dan Cohan, 32, from Baltimore.

Dan used his solid set of DIY skills, and bits of leftover granite that he found in a dumpster on a Baltimore industrial estate.

He told us: “I’ve been ‘handy’ for most of my adult life and had a few different contracting jobs in the past, but I’ve only really gotten into woodworking over the past year when I had a space to work in.

“The comments that I’ve had have varied. People who don’t know anything about wood grains, finishes, and joining think I’m a master craftsman, while seasoned pros think I’m a caveman who used too much wood filler.”

Granite side table 4

We asked Dan where his inspiration for the project came from, particularly how he came to choose such great materials.

“The project was all a bit of a happy accident. I have a practice space just outside of Baltimore that is in a light industrial park. We happen to be right next to a granite fabricator that will sometimes have a few dumpsters filled with trash and surplus scraps from granite counter tops,” he said.

“I really liked the idea of common materials and ‘scraps’ being turned into something great. I feel like that ‘up-cycling’ idea is a little played out now, and can often be too literal, but this ended up working for me because it looked intentional, but involved inexpensive plywood, and granite that would have otherwise ended up in a landfill. And hairpin legs, because I think it’s illegal to be on Etsy without having something with hairpin legs on it.”

On the design of the tables, Dan told us: “I’ve always liked the mid-century modern look. I was drawn to imitating it because the clean lines and simple shapes seemed ‘easy’ to recreate, unlike some kind of ornate detail work. But like most things, it’s deceptively complex.

“Sometimes it takes a lot of effort to make something look simple and pleasing to the eye, which I found out after many failed early drafts, and am still working on.”

Dan sells the granite inlaid side tables on his Etsy shop. Each piece is made to order and one of a kind (and we think that they’re quite reasonably priced too).

Granite side table 1

A quick how-to DIY guide

Source your materials

Most importantly you need to source some granite pieces that you can use. Granite workshops like Cheshire Graniteline always have some surplus pieces lying around that get cut off but don’t really have a use. Try asking nicely at your local kitchen worktop centre.

As for the other materials, Dan says that he spends about $50 (£35) on the birch plywood and other miscellaneous materials like varnish and glue.

01 Granite side tableXX

Cut out the pieces

Carefully trace around the granite pieces on your sheet of birch plywood. Then cut around the pieces with a drill and a jigsaw tool. The closer that you get to the shape of the granite at this stage then the less wood filler you will have to use later on in order to get a snug fit.

2 granite side table

Rout your second piece of wood

Once your granite pieces fit nicely in the cut piece of plywood, you need a second sheet of wood to sit underneath and hold the stone in place. Again, trace around your granite pieces and use a routing tool to hollow out a shape in your wood. Then you can use a hammer and chisel on any wood you couldn’t get to with the router.

Fit the wood together and shape

Carefully glue the layers together, clamp them and leave it for 24 hours. Once the wood has been fixed in place you can think about shaping it to your tastes. On this table, Dan has decided to cut the wood at a 30 degree angle to give it an ‘atomic age’ feel.

Finishing touches

Finish off your table by filling in the gaps between the granite with wood filler before getting it stained and lacquered. On this table, Dan used two coats of Danish oil and a few coats of lacquer, applied over a couple of weeks.

Then all you need to do is add your Hairpin legs and you’re done.


All photos courtesy of Dan Cohan

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