Monday, 19 August 2013

Botched carpentry and a plate rack makeover...

I've been tinkering with my new plate rack and I figured it might be time for another carpentry masterclass. Or, how not to do things as the case may be...

This was my inspiration:

Found on Pinterest (Vintage House blog)
 Whaddya know? It's a Swedish blog! No wonder it's so gorgeous.

What I loved about the first plate rack I found on eBay is the wooden rails to keep the plates from falling off, for example if your dining room is small and your guests leap up in a hurry, forgetting what's behind them on the wall. To spare those guests from the embarrassment of smashing all the china, a rail is a good idea.

The too small plate rack.

But nothing fit on this one. So onto the next plate rack, very much larger but without the clever rail.

 It's a disaster just waiting to happen.

So... here's how I added a rail to the new plate rack. I bought some wooden dowel. I winged it on the size but it would look good to have the dowel the same thickness as your shelves. Luckily mine was.

I measured (VERY carefully this time) and made sure my things would squeeze behind the rail. I used a Spade bit which has a nice pointy middle so you can be spot on with your hole drilling.

As my dowel was 18mm wide, I went for the 18mm spade bit. I asked the man in the DIY shop if that was right.
Well it wasn't right. I had to spend 15 minutes sanding the inside of each hole so that the damn dowel would go in.

When you use a spade bit the top side of the wood is lovely.

The bottom side gets all splintered. I don't care. This is being painted and that's what wood filler is for.

bottom side

 Hooray, the dowel fits! Eventually.
I cut the dowel 5mm shorter than it needed to be so that I didn't have bits poking out due to inaccurate measuring/rubbish sawing. The recess was filled so it would be smooth.

I also needed to add a small lip to the shelf to prevent plates from slipping through. Oh yeah. My plates aren't going anywhere! There's a groove for plates to sit in but it's in the wrong place for really fat plates. And I'm thinking of displaying something other than plates on this. And they are fat.

 So I took a piece of moulding. It's a bit of pine glass beading. So I popped this on with wood glue and thin panel pins. When using thin beading, the thinnest panel pins are the best. The thicker ones can split the beading. I've made this mistake before with my panelled doors.

old plate groove and new pine lip in front

Caulking the joins is the most important next step. If you don't do this you'll get cracks in your paint along every join. I've made this mistake too.

I'm a firm believer in just doing things and learning along the way! I think you remember by making mistakes.  I do anyway!

Speaking of mistakes, I also treated this plate rack for woodworm. Often if you buy things with evidence of woodworm, the seller will tell you they have been treated. Never take their word for it. I bought my reproduction French bed from a 'reputable dealer' ( let's just say they are a French furniture dealer in York with a showroom in London also) who assured me it was treated. Well, it certainly wasn't! You need to sort this sort of thing out well before you paint a piece.

I treated this one, went away for a week, and painted it with chalk paint. Grease marks from the oily woodworm treatment showed through the paint. It takes a long time for that woodworm killer to dry out! As I was in a hurry, I just went over it all in a stain stopping paint. Not ideal.


I used Polycell Stain Stop

and it was awesome. Just one coat and no more oil marks. (This is not a sponsored post.)

So, FINALLY time to paint!

I did a bog standard two colours of emulsion, sanding one back so the underneath colour showed through. And I thought I should perhaps try some Swedish embellishment. I turned to my furniture painting books and realised I'd made a bit of a booboo.

You know I like everything as pale as can be? Well it seems that in Sweden, this look is to be found in the 'fancy furniture.'

Posh stuff

I can't do 'posh' in this house as the ceilings are too low. So what I had to work with was more 'chunky country pine', more of a 'folk' vibe.

But all the pictures I found of that kind of thing are incredibly colourfull!

Oh dear, we can't have that!
Fortunately my Swedish dining room is a 'fantasy' Swedish dining room so I'm allowed to break the rules.
I've gone for a hybrid version.
Folky painting with pale colours.

I turned once again to the best painted furniture book ever written...

and found a design I liked.

I was worried it was a bit twee but now it's up, it's so small that I don't think it matters...

The problem I have now, is what to display on here. Are you ready for the big reveal?

The before:


The ironstone plates? (Yes I need another...)


Blue and white?

Or the reason I did this in the first place?

To display my beloved vintage bread boards...

And that 'belt and braces' rail and lip?


Unlike the rest of the room...

Ah well, you can't have everything.

Knick of Time

Family Home and Life
Funky Junk
Furniture Feature Fridays


  1. Mistakes, I've made a few....(in fact I can't seem to do anything right at the moment, my latest is a knitting balls-up) There's nothing 'botched' looking about this gorgeous plate rack! You are clever to wield a power tool with such confidence and to paint such a delighful design too. For me it's plates over bread boards every time.

    1. Give me a drill over knitting needles any day! You're a braver woman than I am Fiona!
      Plates over bread boards, really? They do look pretty but no one has bread boards all over their walls. (Perhaps there is a reason for this!) xx

  2. gorgeous! loving those bread boards. I just dragged the other half over to look at that top one from vintage house blog....make me one of them please......I`ll get back to you next decade with the results!
    Al x

    1. They look so simple don't they? Or you could always customise your own. Much simpler! x

  3. Fantastic makeover Emma Kate as always. You always get some fabulous finds but I'm afraid I wouldnt be seen anywhere near drills/screwdrivers/ get my drift! I let Tony do that! I used to have a dresser top many years ago and found that bluetack helped steady any thicker than normal plates in the grooves and it wasnt visible.I bet your house is gorgeous, such an inspiration to us all!

    1. Thanks Anne, my house is a wreck but we are getting there one room at a time! My husband isn't allowed to play with the power tools. Or even the paint brushes. Not that I'm a control freak or anything...;)

  4. that looks utterly fabulous, unique and I must pin it... Well done ♥

  5. Great rack, Emma Kate! Sorry, someone had to say it, and of course it had to be me....
    It really does look fabulous though - you are so gung ho about your carpentry, I am seriously impressed, I would be wobbling and wibbling and scare myself off before I even started.
    I like it with the blue and white plates, I'd probably do a mishmash of all sorts of colours but I suspect that wouldn't fit well with your aesthetic. And the bread boards are a great collection. xxxxx

    1. There's a compliment I'll never recieve again! Grr, I think you're right about the plates. It's funny, when it was in my head the breadboards looked ace. It's not really working is it? xxxxx

    2. it's the gaps between, not the bread boards that aren't working for me. There is only one thing for it...FIND MORE!!! (and overlap them, I think).

      You have done such a beautiful job with the plate rack, and OH MY GOD those bread boards are utterly divine, what a fantastic thing to collect. and heck yeah you need to treat woodworm you don't want the little buggers munching on those beauties!

      the blue and white stuff looks fantastic in there too. seriously thinking of getting into collecting blue and white for everyday use, it's so crisp and classic x

    3. Bugger. I just sold my fabulous blue and white tablecloth as I was painting over the blue walls. That would've worked!
      I do have a few more (ahem...) so I'll see how that looks... x

  6. Your skillz are seriously impressive, I wouldn't have a clue - damned all-girls' school and useless lessons in Latin and ancient Greek.
    I'm all about colour, as you well know, my car booted plate rack has a mish mash of psychedelic 1960s and Conran ceramics. I like the blue and white best! x

    1. My nephew does Latin. I can't imagine it being useful unless you're in medecine. I made a wooden tortoise at school and it was displayed in the trophy cabinet! :) I'd forgotten all about that.
      I'd love to see your plate rack! Do show! xxx

  7. Wow that looks fabulous, what a great makeover. You are clever, dee x

  8. Wow Emma, It is absolutely gorgeous and I love the faint colour in the design, it makes it pop out of the wall.. and my favourite is the vintage bread boards, I bet they could tell some interesting stories if they could talk of course xx

    1. Thanks Mrs C! One vote for the bread boards. I've taken Max's advice and squeezed two more on now! Hope it doesn't fall off the wall! xx

  9. It's fantastic! Well done you :)

    LOVE the blue and white plates, the platters and the chopping boards. How will you ever choose which to display first?! xxx

  10. Your plate rack turned out great! Thanx for partying at THT.

  11. What a marvelous job -- well done! I would like the ironstone platters best if you could find one more. I do like your breadboard collection but somehow in the rack they look just a bit too regular for me. But what I like best of all is the photo of your cluttered table! Made me feel enormously better about the state of my own. Cheers -- Min

  12. Just Beautiful! I have always wanted a plate rack:)Yours looks Great!


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