For years, I have lived with our builder grade cabinets and island in our kitchen. I was totally fine with it until my mind started to wonder. And, you know how that goes. For over a year, I searched Craigslist and antique fairs for the perfect replacement for our kitchen island and nothing tickled my fancy. I had the measurements of my current island memorized and had a tape measure in my car at all times just in case I found something. So, one night I was all cuddled in bed scanning Craigslist for the millionth time when I came across a new listing for a machinist bench. A machinist bench? What the heck was that? Who cares, I loved the sea foam green color and that it had legs that lifted it off the floor. The ad said that it was at least 75 years old and that it was in the house when the owner bought it. He wanted rid of it.
I immediately ran downstairs with my ipad and measured my island against the measurements of the machinist bench and discovered that it was only 1/2 inch off in height and all the other measurements matched perfectly! Say what? I could not believe it! I knew that the 1/2 inch difference in height meant nothing as I was going to add a top anyway. I immediately emailed the owner and sent him the cash via Paypal to insure that the machinist bench was mine! Boom! Buddy and I were off that next weekend for the hour drive to pick up our new kitchen island.
When we got the bench home and I was able to take a closer look at it I discovered that it was soaked in oil spills and had metal shavings in every crack and crevice. I scrubbed, I sanded, I cleaned, and ultimately, it was as good as new. Well, as good as new to me. I painted the interior of the cabinet with a stain blocking primer/paint and sealed the outside with a non-yellowing sealer to trap in all the smells, oils, etc. Prep work was all down, however, there was still something missing. Oh yeah, the top!
Buddy and I put the cabinet in the kitchen and had a month long discussion on what to put on the top. I found old high school chemistry tops. Nope. I found reclaimed barn wood. Nope. Nothing seemed to say to me: “That is it!”. Then, one night as I lay in bed, it came to me!!! Over 15 years ago my dad replaced the basement steps in my grandmother’s house, steps that were original to her house built in 1870. At the time, I decided to keep the intact staircase for shelves in my house. However, they eventually were laid to rest in storage in the barn for over ten years. They were beat up. Chewed by groundhogs. Hit by the tractor. Simply beat. Still, my dad and I looked them over and figured we could make it work. At the time, I didn’t think to snap a picture of the steps before they were torn apart, so these steps I found in an antique shop in Deep Creek will have to do. My grandmother’s steps were almost identical except for the paint. The most wonderful part of my steps were the fact that the sunken treads on my steps were made by my grandfather’s work boots and my grandmother’s shoes. My steps had a connection to my family.
So, dad tore our steps apart and tried to find enough wood to make a table top for my new machinist bench. Needless to say, by the time he sanded everything, threw out the damaged parts and put aside the workable wood, there was not much left. However, there was just enough to make my top!
Dad built the entire top and reinforced it with a plywood base to get the height we needed. We brought it in our house for about a month to let it acclimate to our house humidity and temp and then coated it with epoxy. In case you were looking for a good epoxy, we used http://www.bestbartopepoxy.com. Just follow the instructions as stated. Amazing. Just saying.
After all the searching and stress, the new island turned out better than I thought. The best part is, we made it have a great overhang for the three vintage bar stools that were Buddy’s Grandfather’s. Now, my kids can sit and eat breakfast on a surface that their great grandparents walked on. Insert smile here.