We recently moved and my wife had a request. She wanted something tall to change the visual weight of the room. I agreed with her (she has a vision and who am I to stand in her way?) and she sent me this: image alt text

It’s a nice piece of furniture and solid wood. The only problem is that it’s 200$ USD and backordered for 4 months. This article was written in early 2022 if you can’t tell (hopefully you’re reading this and supply chain issues are less of a worry).

I thought, how hard could that be to make myself? Rockler sells some nice 1" (25mm) rods that I could buy and cut. Except they only had one 1" rod but plenty of 3/4" (19mm) rods. So 3/4" it was. Looking back, I wish I had ordered/waited for the 1" ones as they would have looked better. Strength wise, the 3/4" ones are just fine.

I found some old wood in the garage that was nice and long but only 3/4" thick. I face jointed them and planed them until they were smooth enough to glue together. After clamping them up, I ripped it down the middle to form two squares, each a little under 1.5" (38mm) thick.

Since my garage woodworking setup doesn’t have a drill press (yet) I got out my square and did my best to just drill with my 3/4" bit with a piece of tape to mark the depth. The holes weren’t perfect but they worked alright. If I were to do this again, I’d invest in a drill press.

Cutting the rods involved a little math. Using paint.net I was able to guess that the angle was around 2 degrees, so that’s what I went for. I measured the holes I drilled and then did some geometry. Out of all the high school subjects I hated, geometry has been the most useful. Though I hated the geometric proofs and have never needed them.

Since I wanted the outside rails to be round, I rounded the edges that the holes in them as I wouldn’t be able to round them once it was glued up. A massive 3/4" roundover bit did the trick but made a huge mess. I left the outside edges not round as I wanted to have two nice flat surfaces for glue up.

Image not found rounding_test.jpg : image alt text

Then it was time for glue up. I cut little blocks at 2 degrees to make sure the angles were correct. Getting it straight was also a challenge and I feel like it has a slight tilt to it Next time I’ll cut a 2 degree angle in a long piece of wood and have that as a reference edge in clamping on both sides. I was adjusting as the glue dried and ran out of time as it got hard and harder to make small adjustments. image alt text ß After it dried it was time to test it against the wall.

image alt text

The final step was rounding the two outside edges and finishing. Since it was poplar on the outside, I wasn’t sure how well it would take the stain. I grabbed my test piece from earlier and wiped some stain on to see what it would look like. I was debating painting it, but wanted to see what it would look it.

Ultimately I didn’t love the look of the stained poplar and oak together, so I decided to go for a two toned approach with paint.

Image not found stain_test.jpg : image alt text


I first sprayed it with some primer to get good adhesion.

tape up spray painted

Then I painted several coats on the outside with some enamel paint I had laying around for a nice hard finish. I sealed the rungs with some general purpose sealer.

Overall I think it turned out really good.