Old futon, new mini workbench

The old wooden futon sat on the curb for weeks this summer. I suspect all of us DIYers were wondering the same thing: How long would it really take to pull all of those nails to reclaim the wood? Would it be worth the work?

Finally, my curiosity got the best of me, and I dragged it home. I’m happy to report that it only took a couple of hours to break it down. And I only stabbed myself a couple times.

But then a new problem arose, and it wasn’t the state of my tetanus vaccination: What was I going to do with all of this wood?

It was December before I developed a solution. I would make a mini workbench for my mom for Christmas.

My mom, Sue Mahaney, is quite the artist. She paints. She sculpts. And she carves. Now that I know a thing or two about woodworking, it’s this carving that really gets to me. Her work features such intricate detail, in solid wood with differing grain, no less. And she’s doing this all by hand. Crazy.

From left: A painted carving; detail of a standing cross; and a processional cross.

The problem is, she has never had a great place to do this work. I remember sitting in the living room as a kid watching TV while she carved on her lap on the couch. Whatever works, but there has to be a better way.

Enter the mini workbench. It can be clamped to a table to lift a workpiece up, making it easier to work on. Or it could be held in a lap as well, with the workpiece clamped in place. YouTubers Laura Kampf and Adrian Preda have built some beautiful examples, which served as inspiration here.

So I set about on making the bench. The build went well, though it came down to the wire. I was still applying finish in the basement while the rest of the family was celebrating Christmas upstairs.

See how the full process went in the video above. But please forgive my wrapping job at the end. I was kind of in a hurry.