One serendipitous day, I found a teetering stack of letterpress job cases in front of one of the local antique and furniture shops at unbelievably low prices. Most of the time, these trays go for anywhere between 30 and 50 dollars, depending on size and condition. But I snagged some large Hamilton-brand California job cases for 18 bucks. Quite a find!
My friend Emma helped me turn one of these into a snazzy, shadow box-style coffee table. We went hardware shopping at Lowe's for some prefab table legs, wood stain, heavy-duty top plates (to brace the legs on the bottom of the job case), a sheet of plexiglass, and bumpers. I also borrowed a power drill and the accompanying bits from my stepfather.
First, I stained the table legs to get them close to the color of the job case. I let them dry completely overnight.
Second, with Emma's assistance, I drilled holes into the bottom of the job case so we could screw the top plates into place. This was probably the most involved part of the process. (Note the gorgeous ring I recently bought for myself from Compass Rose Design--it's made with an antique typewriter key!)
Third, we screwed the top plates into the job case.
Then, we screwed the table legs into the top plates.
And we have a table!
Now just for the finishing touches. We add bumpers to the corners and edges of the plexiglass sheet to keep it from sliding around too much (a necessary precaution when one has a large maniac dog and two nosy cats). Finally, we fill the slots with bits and bobs, then slide the glass into place.
And to think I used to hate when my dad would drag me and my brother to Lowe's for, what felt like, hours. Oh how things change when we grow up. I also like pickles, mustard, and onions now (and sometimes all at once).