Before & After: Box Spring Turned into Table and Chair

Sun Aug 11, 2013 12:08 pm
Comments: 19

A box spring turned into a chair and a table: this is not quite your regular before and after post where the before resembles the after in any way, shape or form. No, this is much more awesome!

Once the bed was made the need of a boxspring was eliminated. So, we suddenly had a queen sized box spring sitting in the house that we needed to get rid of. First off we tried to list it free on craigslist, but after a couple of days of no takers we just figured we would have to take it to the landfill. But seeing how that would be a bit of a hassle, we thought we might as well take it apart and maybe we could dispose of it easier that way. 

There is a lot of wood in a boxspring, did you know that? I didn't. I mean, it makes sense, but I really had no idea. So, here we are, building all kinds of stuff already, and we open up the boxspring and there we have wood. Sure, it was cheap, basic, light wood, but still wood, unfinished wood. We would be crazy to get rid of it, right?

So, here we start a little game called: "what we can turn an old box spring into." To this point we have not purchased anything for our front porch, so a table and a chair would be nice to have there. Therefore, we decided to give ourselves a challenge and try to create some outdoor furniture out of the wood inside the boxspring.

With a maul and a hammer we dismantled the boxspring so that the only thing we threw away was the fabric cover, which is stapled to the frame, and a layer of cardboard. There are a lot of staples and nails in there, and it does damage much of the wood, but it did not matter too much since it was for outdoor use anyway. Also, people might be interested to know that once the wood is out of the boxspring, there isn't much left, so not much trash at all!

The challenge we set for ourselves was to not use any other wood at all, except for dowels we already had. What could we turn the boxspring into? No cheating! This did present some difficulties since some of the wood was heavily marked from staples and some wood was cracked. But overall it seemed like enough wood to build something!

Another part of the idea was design. Both pieces had to be designed on the fly, so that we could not plan too much and get annoyed with the lack of wood. We were certain a small table could be built given the amount of wood for a table top, but it would be limited by the length of the shortest piece. At this point there was no telling whether a chair could also be made from the pile of wood. It was amazing how much wood was actually in that boxspring though, and to imagine that everyday so many boxsprings are thrown into the landfills! Just imagine how many dining sets could be made with them. 

The Table

The first thing to do was to plane down each of the pieces to make a table top. It is pretty easy to glue each piece and clamp them together. Glue is very much stronger than one would imagine.

We also added some weights so that no part would buckle from the clamp pressure. After drying overnight a light sanding removed any excess glue we missed.

Next we mitre cut some inner supports for the legs, as well as additional support for the top. Using three dowels per piece worked well. Once we added glue we let the underneath rails dry overnight.

We then cleaned up the uneven top with a handsaw and sanded the wood to remove nail and staple marks with 40 grit paper.

Rounding the edges with a palm sander.

For the legs we glued and doweled two pieces for each leg 29 inches long. We did this because we felt the legs would be a bit too thin if we just used one piece of wood for each, and hey - we couldn't exactly go to the lumber store and pick out some nice 2x2s to work with!

We attached the legs to the top with two dowels for each leg into the inner rails.


Once the legs had dried overnight we could do a final sanding and then add three coats of exterior polyurethane. Overall this went pretty quick, mostly because this was not a very complicated design. After we completed the small table destined for the front porch we had some wood left to work with, and we figured it might be enough to build a small chair to match.

The Chair

Basically we used the same top design as the table for the seat of the chair. We glued together a 15 inch wide seat and built onto that a set of small rails to support the legs and a small back. This was the first time we ever made a chair, and it's definitely a bit more complicated than making a table!

For the sake of continuity, we decided to make the front legs just like the table legs.

The front leg horizontial supports were made using a mortise and tenon. Without supports, the chair wouldn't be very strong at all. After all, you do put quite a lot of pressure on a chair when you sit on it...

Cutting and fitting the front leg support.


The seat was the main support in this design so the legs, front and back would be doweled to it. We put dowels in from the top and side for greater strength. We didn't mind the look of the dowels at all, in fact I think they kind of add to the outdoor feel of the pieces.

Here we're getting an idea of what everything will look like. It's kind of exciting putting everything together to see what it will basically look like when it's all one piece.

The chair back design was pretty simple. We didn't have much wood left at this point, so we picked out a few pieces from what we had left, doweled in some rails and added a curved cap piece to tighten everything up.

We cut the curve out with a coping saw and used a plane to smooth it out.

Once we had constructed this design, we also added a curved piece to sit at the base of the back to close the gap between the seat and the chair back.

Just like the table we sanded the whole piece, rubbed it with mineral spirits and then added 3 coats of exterior polyurethane.

I think the chair came out quite nicely. We would have done a few things differently if we had more wood but given that the challenge was to use only what wood we could salvage from the boxspring I think it came out pretty well!

Doesn't it look like dollhouse furniture a little bit? The table and chair fit perfectly, and now we have a small little outdoor set - at last. Now we only need to make another chair!

Now isn't this kind of neat? First we had a boxspring we needed to get rid of. Now, we have a nice little outdoor set. Nothing went into the trash, we didn't actually have to pay to throw anything away! Instead we got to build a little table and a chair, that was absolutely free, and they look great out on our front porch!

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Mon Jun 18, 2012 5:31 am
Name: Jay Comment: Will that chair really be sturdy enough to lean back in?

Mon Jun 18, 2012 6:38 am
Name: Maria Comment: Wow! You are both such creative DIYers! I really wouldn't have been able to tell you made the table out of a box spring. The chair is super cute! A lovely little patio set!

Mon Jun 18, 2012 6:40 amJay, sure, we've sat in it plenty already. And Maria, thanks!

Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:43 pm
Name: pam kueber URL: Comment: woah, that is indeed impressive. but what did you do with the quilted mattress cover haha

Mon Jun 18, 2012 3:50 pmPam, thanks! Sadly (or not!), the quilted mattress cover went into the trash. I'm not exactly sure what that we could have done with that cover, some things are just meant for the trash! :)

Mon Jun 18, 2012 4:49 pm
Name: Michelle Rayburn URL: Comment: I love it. And I love the way you take photos too. Cool angles. Thanks for sharing your creativity.

from Trash to Treasure Decorating

Fri Jun 22, 2012 7:59 am
Name: Splomo Comment: This is terrific! Love your vision, technique, and your visual storytelling. I arrived here from Apartment Therapy ... am looking forward to catching up on your other builds... you have been busy! :)

Fri Jun 22, 2012 8:34 amthat is the best yet

Fri Jun 22, 2012 8:34 amSplomo, welcome & thanks for the kind words! We have indeed been busy, and we have quite a few projects up here on the site!

Fri Jun 22, 2012 8:35 amChris, thanks! Now you just have to come over and try it out!

Mon Jun 25, 2012 8:31 pm
Name: katrina URL: Comment: what an amazing project! so inspiring. good for you.

Tue Jun 26, 2012 6:21 am
Name: Joslin URL: Comment: That is amazing! Your creativity blows my mind.

Tue Jun 26, 2012 6:23 am
Name: Desiree Comment: That is amazing!!!!

Tue Jun 26, 2012 7:13 am
Name: Kim from Milwaukee Comment: I'm loving all those dowels that you used, very old school. I would love to learn how to do that kind of woodworking. You both are so creative to come up with a recycling project from a box spring. Very inspiring!!

Tue Jun 26, 2012 8:57 amThanks guys! And Kim, first of all - welcome! Secondly, using dowels isn't that hard, you just drill a hole and glue the dowel in!

Fri Aug 03, 2012 4:38 pm
Name: JanF Comment: I don't think I have ever seen anything so clever!

Wed Nov 14, 2012 11:19 am
Name: Bridget Comment: Impressive repurposing project. Love it when people find new uses for items bound for some landfill. It is great that you think out of the box, and put your ideas to work. I come up with some cool ideas, but chicken out when it comes to the actual execution. I am curious if someone taught you such incredible woodworking skills or did you simply pick up some tools and learn by trial and error!

Wed Nov 14, 2012 6:59 pmTrail and error....

Fri Mar 08, 2013 9:06 am
Name: Kathy Comment: Terrific idea! You have opened my mind to other ideas - I'm thinking of maybe teepees, cages, etc for my tomato plants - I've seen these boxes sitting on the side of the road for the trash - You are so creative. You are very talented - I love what you did and the outcome is adorable. Great work putting these together!

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