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Window Sash Carved Table

Michael Littlewood Biddison carves an artistic design on two panels for his window sash table.

Materials and Tools:

used window sash
1" wood strips
rough cherry wood
pedestal or table base
wood glue
wood filler
lacquer sprays, liquid lacquer, lacquer pigments
synthetic steel wool
plumber's metal strapping
utility knife, chisel, needle-nose pliers
table saw, chop saw
orbital sander
rotary carving tool and bits
power drill
safety glasses, measuring tape, pencil


1. Select a used window sash from salvaged rubbish.

2. Remove the glass panes by cutting and scraping the old glazing putty around the panes with a utility knife, being careful not to break the glass.

3. Remove the glazier's points (small metal triangles driven into the frame beneath the putty that hold the glass in place) with a chisel and needle-nose pliers.

4. Sand the wood in the window frame using grinders and an orbital sander to smooth it. Make any necessary repairs.

5. Cut wood strips for the window frame and screw the strips to the window frame and secure with wood glue to reinforce the frame.

6. Apply red-brown spray lacquer to the frame in a well-ventilated area. Let dry and apply a coat of black spray lacquer. Let dry.

7. Rub the wood with synthetic steel wool to remove some of the black lacquer and let some of the red-brown color underneath show through.

8. To make the wood panels (that replace the panes of glass) and the tabletop, run rough cherry wood boards through a planer to 1/2-inch thickness and to smooth. The wood will sit on the ledge (that used to hold the glass) and will be flush with the frame. Wear safety glasses when working with the planer.

9. Cut the boards to size, first by "ripping" them (cutting in the same direction of the grain of the wood) on the table saw and then by "cross-cutting" (cutting across the woods grain) the boards to the proper length using a miter saw. Six panels were measured and cut 9" x 12" for this window sash. Note: Window sashes may vary in size, so cut the panels to fit snuggly into the selected window frame.

10. Sand the six wood panels smooth.

11. Choose a theme or artistic design for the tabletop focusing on the middle two of the six panels. Biddison used sketches from his sketchbook for ideas and designs.

12. Draw selected designs on the wood panels with pencil.

13. Carve the design using a rotary tool, begin by roughing out the edges of the shapes and changing bits to refine the design.

14. Add color to the wood panels by mixing powdered pigments with "brushing lacquer" (the liquid form). This is a very fast and expressive process since lacquers dry so quickly. Apply the desired colors with a paintbrush. Let dry.

15. For the center panels with the carved design, use a variety of colors. Let dry.

16. Spray red-brown lacquer over the panels and rub with synthetic steel wool for a graduated color surface.

17. Spray a final topcoat or two of lacquer to develop a more durable surface and to deepen the colors. Let dry.

18. Attach the completed panels into the table permanently with short pieces of plumber's metal strapping. The strapping secures the panels firmly but allows some movement so the panels may expand and contract.

19. Attach a beveled plywood panel that has been painted with lacquer to match the window frame to the underside of the sash to create a solid structure for the table using screws.

20. Attach the window sash carved tabletop to a found pedestal table base with screws.

Restoration carpenter Michael Biddison of Glenmoore, Pa., was drawn to the "junk" that wound up in a scrap heap during one of his jobs (he had to move an entire barn). The wood from old barns has such character that Michael didn't want to see it thrown away so he started gathering it up and finding uses for the different pieces. Now, in his spare time he surrounds himself with barn wood. He's taken over a barn that used to be his wife's Pilates studio, so that he can create more projects from the wood he rescues!


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