Creative Coffee Tables with a Past

[buy a similar piece of vintage furniture now in my shop!]

I love rescuing old, “junky” boxes from vintage stores! This one was no exception. I found this in my home state, specifically Catlett, VA. Although at first glance it was pretty sad looking. Which is why most people in the store probably passed it by!

But the patina spoke to me, especially because this one had words on it! A very old shipping container with an address on it! I knew from the start I wanted to preserve the history, patina and weathered nature of the box, so I turned to my trusty clear lacquer to “fossilize it in time”!

Whenever there is writing on a piece, I try to research its history and where it came from and try to figure out its age. The container itself could be as old as the late 1800s or early 1900s. It appears by the different paint on it that it has had quite a few uses in its lifetime. The address seems to have been added later.

The address on the box belongs to a home built in 1928. The lovely woman whose name is on this container (her maiden name) appears to have passed away in 1988, possibly in her early 60s. Since it’s her maiden name and people got married pretty young in those days, I am guessing the container was mailed sometime between 1940-1950… This is a lot of guessing; but it certainly makes the piece a lot more special when you know its history.

I wanted to give it a little more height and character, so I added some steel hairpin legs. You can get metal hairpin legs at the craft store in limited lengths. These are steel (and better in my opinion, but I’ve used both kinds!) and I found them on Etsy from Odaat Customs. 

I started by cleaning it with a damp rag. And vacuuming out all the dust and (dead) spiders! Next, a pre-stain conditioner. This helps create an even layer on the wood before applying the final step, the clear lacquer. Especially when you’re working with old, dried out wood.

Be sure to apply lacquer outside. Of all the smelly stains, polyurethanes, enamels, etc., lacquer is by far the smelliest! But also the best at finishing a project like this! Several coats were needed, and some extra touch ups on the rough wood parts.

This piece has the original hinges, which I love. Unfortunately the front lock is not original.

I love how this turned out! I am so tempted to keep it, (like almost all the pieces I make) but I’m glad its gone on to its forever home. See other similar vintage furniture pieces for sale now in my shop!

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