Creating my vintage tabletop!

My vision for this journal is that it is packed full of artifacts, maps, reports.  This means not only will I be photographing pages in the journal, but I will be unfolding and photographing larger exhibits as well.  To do that the copy stand surface has to be large and the table top becomes as important of an element as the journal or the pen.  I have been building the large copy stand but was really unsure what material to use for the top.  I toyed with using black epoxy or some kind of fancy wood veneer but did not want to spend a fortune. I was digging through our garage when it dawned on me that our old butcher block kitchen table from years back was buried in the garage somewhere and being used to store gardening supplies.  I started researching “do it yourself” websites for aging butcher block and found some great videos that convinced me I could come up with something convincing by carefully beating the crap out of the old table top. I was on my way to creating a vintage table top!

This first set of images shows the table itself cut down to size and placed on the copy stand.  I sanded it many times with a vibration sander with sandpaper from 120 to 220 grit to get it as smooth as possible.  Once that was done, it was time for the fun part.  The last picture in the lower right hand corner are my “implements of destruction”.. Chain link, bolts and nails in a sock, various pieces of metal that I could indent the surface by wacking it with a hammer to make it look old.  The trick was to be random but with an eye for composition.  Hard to explain, but you did have to think about it so that the markings feel random and are not a distraction in the final picture


This series of pictures shows the finishing of the butcher block.  I used about three coats of an oil based walnut colored stain.  Brushed it on and wiped it off with a towel.  I did do a test sample first on one of the scraps.  One of the random discoveries was that if I scored the butcher block joints with a nail the stain sticks in the groove and gave it a plank board look.  By doing this at every other block it simulated larger planks than the narrow butcher block pieces.  Somehow this felt more like an old table you might find in the squad meeting room to me.   I finished it off with about four coats of a hand rubbed polyeurathane finish, sanding with very fine steel wool in the end.  Likely it is too shiny right now, may have to use the steel wool to dull it some.


Here are some test pictures of the finished table top with the journal on top of it.  Almost looks like a 1900’s era table from an old school building.  Ton’s of room for larger exhibits to be composed if needed.


Here it is with the journal open.  My camera has very limited f-stop control so it is not possible to get the table and journal in full focus.  Santa is bringing me a better camera so I expect the photo quality to be much better on the final.


And so you get a sense of where I am going with this, here is the same picture after adding a sketch and some text in photoshop.  The sketch is a scan of a hand sketch where the backround color has been made clear so the paper shows thru.  That means things like shadows from the pen actually show up.   Once you place the layer over the photograph you erase the lines that overlap the pen so it looks like it goes under the pen.  I also made the layers slightly tranparent so that it receeds.  Still some white hot spots showing and I am not happy with the resolution of the sketch especially if you zoom in, but overall I am pleased with the quality and feel.


More adventures to come, need to see if I can age the journal itself so that it looks as old as the table next.

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