[Buy this fabulous vintage coffee table – available now in my shop!]
These single row 5 drawer card catalog configurations make amazing coffee tables!
Often these card catalogs were part of a bigger system and therefore don’t have a top or a finished top. I recently found another (they are hard to find!) – this particular one also is a “newer” one with some lovely, groovy 70s yellow varnish, wooden drawer fronts, amazing hardware and plastic drawers.
I decided to paint it black (I almost never paint anything!) but this groovy yellow was only groovy 50 years ago! Since the finish was so shiny, I sanded it first so the paint would adhere better.
I also decided to paint the plastic drawers black – I’m not a fan of plastic and generally would not refinish such a “new” library card catalog, but since these 5 drawer horizonal configurations are so hard to find, I made an exception!
I chose some old barn wood to create the table top.
I planed the wood to matching thickness and left some of the roughness on the boards. (if you don’t have a planer, sanding works just as well – this is how I got by until I could buy a planer)
I love the slight live edge of this wood and also decided to leave a small gap to fill with black resin to mirror the black on the card catalog. I screwed some mending plates (and 2 wood braces to the back temporarily) to hold it together and make the pieces level before pouring the resin.
Pouring resin into an open crack is tricky and I don’t claim to have it perfected yet! I use a form building tape and silicon to contain the resin while curing. I have noticed that if I attach a piece of tape horizontally and then also vertical strips across the same space, somehow the crisscross pattern of the tape prevents excessive leaking. I start with a shallow layer and let it cure first so that the subsequent layers are less likely to leak.
Once the resin is cured, I use a heat gun on the back with a scraper to get rid of the tape and excess resin and complete it with sanding. 40 grit is best to most quickly remove resin. I follow up with sanding in finer grits up to 220 – the sanding/appearance on the underside of this project is not as important since it will be screwed into the top of the card catalog and not be seen. As you can see in the picture below, I didn’t do enough vertical strips, and there was a lot of resin under that tape to sand!
For the top, once excess resin is removed with 40 grit, I gradually sanded incrementally through 1000 (you can do up to 3000!) grit to get the smoothest finish. I finished this table top with a “Natural” shade, which is basically almost clear and just brings out the natural wood grain.
I attached the table top using screws by carefully inserting my drill through the openings in the top, but also used 4 right angle brackets on the 2 shorter outer sides. Right angle brackets are easiest to attach a stop like this but I didn’t make my top long enough to use sturdy/big enough brackets, so I also screwed the top on through those openings. (Lesson learned!)
The underside of this card catalog was sufficient to screw the steel hairpin legs into (but always check the underside of any project like this to make sure it’s level and can support long enough screws!)
I love the original hardware and reattached those to the drawer fronts and the drawer fronts to the newly painted plastic drawers.
I love how this vintage coffee table turned out! This fabulous library card catalog is available now in my shop!