Reclaimed Fir Coffee Table and Footstool

A few years back, we received several fir floorboards recovered from demolition at the Riverview Hospital site. The institution was constructed around 1913 and the boards looked worn, scratched, and were full of old square head nails. The tongue and groove planks were in different thicknesses, but we were able to pair up some matching sizes.

In order to focus on the floorboards, we tried several table designs including wood frames and legs. In the end, we settled on steel hairpin legs from Rusty Garden (on Amazon) in 2 sizes: 12″ and 16″. The footstool would fit underneath the coffee table. Minimal sanding of the boards removed any burrs or slivers. A mix of 30% thinner plus 70% polyurethane was used to seal the wood in a thin layer without gloss, giving it a light sheen and a handworn look. The fitted boards were glued with PL polyurethane.

The sizes are: table, 40″x 20″x 18″tall; footstool, 22″x14″x14″tall.

Numbered 06-06-19 as a set. Check back, we have used the ends of the reclaimed boards from this project to make a small end table … reclaimed-reclaimed wood!

Baby Squirrels Our Guests

We live and work on an ecological reserve. Animals wander about as they please. We work around bears, deer, ducks, geese, owls, eagles, songbirds, beaver, river otters, raccoons, and squirrels. Recently, we heard the distinct call of a young animal in distress. It was a baby squirrel. We left it with some vegetable pablum and water and waited for the parent to return. At the end of the second day with no momma squirrel in sight, we decided to capture it and give it some proper nutrition. That’s when a second baby squirrel appeared, then another, and another.

They were quite emaciated and weak. A diet of vegetable protien mix, mushed peas and sweet potatoes, and almond milk did the trick. They gained weight over the next week as we watched out for the mother. Unfortunately, she did not reappear. We constructed a 7′ x 4′ x 4′ enclosure complete with glass roof, branches, hoops, ropes, and baskets for a play area and set them up in a secure cage with warm hammocks to sleep in. We kept warm water bottles in their covers to keep up their temperature. They survived and grew.

They are like little food pirates and will try to steal each others food even though there is plenty. They are now on baby rat pellets, sunflower seeds, fresh cut peppers, broccoli, spinach, lettuce, grated carrots, apple sauce, and sliced bananas. Food had to be cut fine or puréed to prevent choking – they will try to stuff themselves when learning about solid food. Also each squirrel had to be hydrated by hand to ensure their water intake was constant. Each had to learn how to drink from a hamster bottle.

The two small pictures above show how small the first found squirrel was in he folds of a jacket. Later, a squirrel enjoys sweet potato and carrot baby food. They are much cleaner eaters now, and cooperate sharing their food.

Three brothers and a sister. The sister is the smallest, but the bravest, and would approach if food was offered. The boys wait until she checks out any new feature in the enclosure. She is the tamest of the pack and will come when called.

They will soon be able to explore the trees onsite and take their role in the wild. This was a fun and challenging opportunity to learn about squirrel behavior and help some young ones get a start in life. We at Prairiebench.com are proud to have received a commendation from the City of Port Coquitlam for our efforts in animal rescue over the years.

For fun, watch “Brunch with Baby Squirrels” on YouTube to see these darlings have a polite snack for the camera…

From right to left: little sister, big brother (first one found), grey (second one found), charcoal (last one found and the shy one). The little sister approached for food after two brothers were discovered.

Ragged Edge Cedar Counter

The ragged edge cedar counter was a project to use up some leftover barn wood found in an old shed. The slats are trimmed to approx. 5″ wide. Then the boards were glued and clamped together side by side, while staggering the length of each. Then the end of the glued material was trimmed at 45° and glued to form a square edge. The matching wood grain aligns to give the appearance of wood folded to make a counter.

Clamping was a trick and several spring clamps were used to maintain an even line at the join. Vertical slat cedar with angle supports complete the farm look. No nails or screws are used. The piece is unfinshed, with only a light sand to remove slivers.

The ragged edge cedar counter is unnumbered and designed as an experiment to highlight the rustic appeal of an old fence or barn wall, knot holes included.

Gold Pocket Watch Found

Metal detecting near an old farmhouse revealed several treasures including a tractor part, an old bent nail, two cabinet hinges, a tin can lid, some foil, and… a Gold Pocket Watch!

Ever seeking fun old things, one of our carvers discovered this cache near the remains of an old farmhouse in an abandoned site. The watch was located within 5 minutes approx. 6″ below the surface. The tractor part was beneath a tree root and had to be extracted to avoid damaging the tree.

The tractor part could be a hitch or a cleat to steady a backhoe.

The watch appears to be gold plated, with corrosion now appearing from beneath the plating. It looks to be a member of the Waltham product line, a US manufacturer, circa 1925. No restoration plans are in order, the find was fun enough, and the tractor part now rests in a place of prominence in a small garden.

A small glass goblet was also found. Unfortunately, it was cracked. It would have been fun to use it to toast the find.

The metal was detected with a Radio Shack Discovery 1000 on the high setting.

Rusty Door Lock and Knob

This was a little treasure found in a wayward door beyond repair. The hardware was extracted carefully and the wood was so rotted, compressed air and a brush did most of the work.

One half was installed on a faux door with a trinket ledge. This false door is made of “cherry preserves”, left over hardwood bits from an import pallet. It measures approx. 36″x12″ The ledge is about 8″ wide and the planks are 3″ wide. The knob and keyhole plate was unaltered to keep the layers of old paint with glints of metal coming through corrosion. A thin, clear layer of polyurethane encases the relic—kind of like plastic wrap.

The lock, plate, and remaining door knob were presented to a student locksmith as a gift. No key was recovered, but markings on the lock indicate a stamp: CORBIN. Have fun picking it. If a key can be made, the components will be put back together again.