Mosin crate coffee table, my version - work in progress

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After seeing a Mosin Nagant crate in the Karma section and seeing this:

Mosin Nagant Rifle Crate Coffee Table « AIM



I knew I had to make one. Long story short, the original winner backed out and I ended up meeting a great member who gave the crate to me. I have done rough and some finish carpentry before and have most of the tools needed for the job (I think) and I figure its an old crate, it isnt going to look worse when I am done with it. The current plan is to copy the basics of the reference link. That is, clean up the outside with a matching paint, seal the inside with polyurethane, add feet, fabricate a glass top and then light the whole thing up. My goal was to spend as little as possible while still producing a good table. IE: I am cheap. Apologies for the crappy cell phone pics, they always look better on a two inch screen than they do on a real monitor.


After getting it home, the dry rot on the bottom was really apparent and more prevalent than I had thought:



However, the rest of the crate was in good shape and the markings, although only on each end were intact.

Anyone have any idea what the markings mean, other than the "20 wt" meaning 20 units I suppose?



The inner braces appeared to be all there with only the smallest one having damage.

There were some other thinner pieces of wood and a few small "filler" pieces still intact but I have no clue where they belong. I figure a little more research on the web and it will all make sense.

First course of order was to remove the back completely as there was not enough salvagable wood, in my opinion, to make a repair. Out comes about 30 rusty screws that use a flat screwdriver tip only slightly wider than a piece of paper..... Seriously, these things had amazingly small slots even after cleaning the junk out of them. After looking at the crate further I am amazed at the way this thing is constructed, it has toungue and groove boards, metal corners that are nailed in, screws everywhere and the cross bars are even dovetailed into the front and backs, making a really stable and tough box.


After realizing how tough this thing really is I have decided to swap out the lid and use it for the back, keeping as much of the original crate as possible. Originally I wanted to cut out the glass area in the original top but I realized that the small ends would not be very stable and I would still need to source out a bottom and I did NOT want to use plywood or some other crap as the edges would be visible from the sides if I copied the original construction. Using the lid for the back would leave it about an eighth of an inch short on both long sides but I judged that acceptable.

Bottom removed, looking in with the crate standing on end gives you an idea of the condition of the rest of the untreated wood, it looks pretty good:


I then removed the lid, flipped the box onto its face and screwed the lid onto the back. I reused most of the old fasteners but had to add a few 3/4 inch long phillips head wood screws to the metal straps as some of the original screws were either junk or missing. I also went to Lowes with a board piece and bought a quart of matching paint in flat and started touching up some of the bare wood areas. The paint matched well enough that the slight difference in shade can be accounted for. I also went through the inside and removed as much of the preservative paper as possible. The pieces of wood on the inside are atttached after the paper is put in, anchoring multiple layers of paper behind every board. Most of it came out completely, with some stuck behind certain boards. I judged it good enough as I wanted the crate to still have some reminder of its former use.

That ended my day yesterday working on the crate. Today my son and I lugged the crate into the sun outside and I dug out an old gallon can of satin polyurethane. Two chip brushes later the inside has a good looking golden color and the entire inside has been given two coats of poly, with another coat added to the inner braces.



The picture is from about halfway through the job and is in direct sunlight. The existing felt looks darker than in the picture and what looks like a crack in one board is not apparent. One thing that is apparrent now that I have had time to look is that the fit between the bottom and sides willneed some light -proofing so that the interior lights will not show from the outside except through the top. I am thinking a strip of felt that looks like the existing felt at the seam, any suggestions?

Thats it for now: Next post will be after sourcing a piece of safety glass for the top as well as deciding what material to use (oak, pine or who knows) plus finish (poly or paint) for the top. Wooden legs are an option but I may try and figure out something more in keeping with the theme.

Thanks for looking.
 
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Next debate is whether to leave the original finish, repaint or flat polyurethane over all of the painted surfaces. I am worried the old paint is fragile enough that normal use will end up damaging it. Figure if I flat poly it, the original finish stays intact under the poly and any moisture or scrapes would be stopped at the poly. I don't want to completely repaint the box as then, in my opinion, I might as well have built the box out of an old pallet.
 

Boris

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that's one coffee table my wife won't let me have.

The more beat up the insides, the more character. It would be kind of cool to encase the whole table in a glass like, so you can see crappy rotted wood, but it would not rub off from use. Probably too hard, but at least the inside is cool.
 
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I have a crate sitting in my basement waiting for some attention.

I was originally going to do a coffee table, but I'm leaning towards doing a stand up cabinet instead. It will take up less space and be different enough.

I'd be interested to know what you do about the glass. I was thinking some decent plexiglass might work as well.

Are you going to store some rifle in it?
 
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Wait, Boris, you can forge an AK out of a shovel in your back yard but a coffee table is a no go?!?!?!

Noxin,
Thought about a stand up cabinet but I was not sure how the rifles would distribute the weight. My worry was it would be front heavy and end up tipping over if a kid bumped into it.

Thought about plexi but it scratches so easily that the table top would be pretty scratched in short order in my opinion. Thought lexan and although it is more durable I am again not sure how it would look in a few years.

Yes, I do plan on putting a couple rifles in it along with some of the ammo pouches and fabricated ammo from fired cases and purchased bullets.

Ivarr, thanks for the info.
On the fir, I don't know if anyone has fir, but it is a close visual match to pine when covered in poly. I think I am going with oak on the top as it will not dent as easily if people put their feet on the edge of the crate. Gotta see if any lumber yard around has fir and how ward it is in reality.

Ben,
Good idea on trying the clears. I would think a flat would be best as the crate has almost no sheen. Even the satin poly I used on the inside is much shinier than than the paint.
 
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Wait, Boris, you can forge an AK out of a shovel in your back yard but a coffee table is a no go?!?!?!

Noxin,
Thought about a stand up cabinet but I was not sure how the rifles would distribute the weight. My worry was it would be front heavy and end up tipping over if a kid bumped into it.

Thought about plexi but it scratches so easily that the table top would be pretty scratched in short order in my opinion. Thought lexan and although it is more durable I am again not sure how it would look in a few years.

Yes, I do plan on putting a couple rifles in it along with some of the ammo pouches and fabricated ammo from fired cases and purchased bullets.

Ivarr, thanks for the info.
On the fir, I don't know if anyone has fir, but it is a close visual match to pine when covered in poly. I think I am going with oak on the top as it will not dent as easily if people put their feet on the edge of the crate. Gotta see if any lumber yard around has fir and how ward it is in reality.

Ben,
Good idea on trying the clears. I would think a flat would be best as the crate has almost no sheen. Even the satin poly I used on the inside is much shinier than than the paint.

red oak will be the closest match to grain pattern,pine will look nothing like fir. the color will be close enough if you put on a coat of clear ( natural ) danish oil before you hard coat it.

i know you've already used the poly ( which i personally think is a HORRIBLE product ) but you would get a better color with tung oil
 

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Wait, Boris, you can forge an AK out of a shovel in your back yard but a coffee table is a no go?!?!?!

Noxin,
Thought about a stand up cabinet but I was not sure how the rifles would distribute the weight. My worry was it would be front heavy and end up tipping over if a kid bumped into it.

Thought about plexi but it scratches so easily that the table top would be pretty scratched in short order in my opinion. Thought lexan and although it is more durable I am again not sure how it would look in a few years.

Yes, I do plan on putting a couple rifles in it along with some of the ammo pouches and fabricated ammo from fired cases and purchased bullets.

Ivarr, thanks for the info.
On the fir, I don't know if anyone has fir, but it is a close visual match to pine when covered in poly. I think I am going with oak on the top as it will not dent as easily if people put their feet on the edge of the crate. Gotta see if any lumber yard around has fir and how ward it is in reality.

Ben,
Good idea on trying the clears. I would think a flat would be best as the crate has almost no sheen. Even the satin poly I used on the inside is much shinier than than the paint.

I'm not sure if that's Fir or not, most lumberyards stock some amount of Fir. It would be CVG ( Clear Vertical Grain ) or CMG ( Clear Mixed Grain ) Douglas Fir. Most places stock 1x4 & 2x4 for deck boards and railings.
I stock 1x4, 1x6, 1x8, 1x12, 2x2, 2x4, 2x6, 2x12 & 4x4.

However the crate is aged, changing the color, I don't think the Fir would match. I'd say SYP ( Southern Yellow Pine ) would be a closer match, which I don't stock. There's a place in Fresh Pond that sells reclaimed would from old barns and mill buildings. Lot's of Longleaf & Loblolly Pine which are SYP Sub-species. That might be your best bet. Longleaf Lumber
 

warwickben

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Use clear coats then hit it with a fine fine steel wool. That will get rid if the shine to it. Or Matt finish for last layer.

If you used a bunch of layers of Matt it might become cloudy .
 
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I have used tung oil in the past and with the rough finish on these boards I don't see how it would work. This wasn't about trying to get a piece of perfectly finished furniture but more about keeping some of the character of the beat up crate. After looking at the poly, I am going to overcoat it with a matte or flat coat, the semi gloss looks like crap IMO on a crate with a flat exterior. My concern was to make the crate as sealed as possible on the inside as I expect this to be long term storage for a couple rifles at the minimum.

I originally thought the minor reflectivity would look good in the crate once full and lit but it is obviously inconsistent due to the finish cuts on the parts. Who knows. I am going to make that decision after the crate is complete and filled, judging on the finished product. Also, the interior of the crate has surprisingly Un-oxidized wood, with no graying and a bright color to the wood.

I finished a set of AK wood with tongue oil as well as a folding rifle rack. I also have an AK with a beech stock that was finished in tongue oil so I know it can look great but wanting the inside as sealed as possible was the priority, as well as Having the product on hand.

Final debate was about replacing the felt. It is in OK shape but nothing special and is beat up. I decided It is staying, I hope that the overall look of the crate stays in keeping with something over 50 years old.

Thanks for looking everyone
 
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SalemCat

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1: Think about making the Top LOCKABLE. Then if you live in MA you won't have to have a lock on anything inside. And I'd go with Tempered Glass. Any plastic is going to look cheap in short order.

2: Industrial Casters might work for feet. You can even paint them to match. The versions with Black Rubber Wheels are ok, but the ones with Cast Iron Wheels would be much cooler.

3: Linseed Oil (and perhaps Tung Oil) rags can set themselves ON FIRE without any source of ignition. Try this : Rub some wood with Linseed Oil and Paper Towels, then place the Towels outside in a Metal Can. I tried this a few years ago, and within half an hour the whole thing was in flames.
 
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