My mom recently has been working on her beautiful new deck, adding seating and flowers etc. She picked up four red Adirondack chairs and then commented, “I really need just one little end table!” My brain immediately started turning and it didn’t take it long to land on this old milk can. My mom had mentioned a couple of years ago that she really wanted one of the old milk cans she was sure were lying about the farm. I found one out in the woods one day but it was in such bad shape I didn’t even haul it back to the house. Fast forward another year when I went to grab a big screen I had spotted between our wood shed and our completely caved in old granary. (I used the screen to build a screen door for our “wood shed” under our staircase.) I peaked in the old granary for good measure thinking I might be able to salvage a shelf that’s still in there when I saw it: an old milk can! And it looked awesome! So I carefully went in there to grab it (trying not to fall through the floor and also trying really hard not to hit my head on any of the roof that had fallen in!) The minute I got to the milk can I realized that it was (not surprisingly) 1/4 full of some kind of liquid. I eyed it for a minute, gave it a little sniff and realized it must have been anti freeze… or something – YUCK! So, without any thought I just tipped it over and dumped it out. To this day I’m not over the horror that came out of it. Honestly, I’m not squeamish, I have never been squeamish, but I just wasn’t prepared for what gushed to my feet: At least forty very dead, and freakishly well preserved, field mice all tangled together. *shudders….* Eeeeeeeewwwwwwww. I literally proceeded to throw the milk can in the bushes on its top (so it wouldn’t fill with rain water) and ran away from it.
Fast forward over a year later and I went to fetch it, carefully sniffing and trying to decide what to do about getting it rinsed out. I dumped a good portion of mineral spirits in the can and did lots of swishing and then proceeded to hose the whole thing down in the back yard for probably much longer then it needed. Honestly I’m still shuddering, that was SO gross. Anyway, on to creating an end table out of an old milk can. If you do a search on Pinterest I am by far NOT the first person to do this!
I grabbed some leftover plywood for my base and drew a circle to the size I wanted the top to be using a pen and a piece of string. Then I cut that out with my jigsaw. Next step was to cut a much smaller circle that would sit inside the opening of the milk can to help hold the table top in place. I just screwed them together, putting the smaller circle in the center of the larger circle.
Step 1: Adding Barn Wood and Making It Pretty
My mom has always wanted some barn wood from my grandparents’ (her parents) old barn so I thought this would be a perfect project for barn wood. I laid a piece down in the center and screwed it to the table top then cut it off and just kept going until the top was covered. Then I took my jigsaw and cut the barn wood off in a circle around the whole thing, letting it hang over like a lip a little bit. (I did all of this with the mind that it would be rustic and not at all perfect.) I lightly sanded everything (top and bottom and all of the edges) to make sure no one would get splinters. I then grabbed some white outdoor acrylic paint I had on hand and painted all of the raw edges and the edges of the plywood so there was no “new” looking wood showing. I also did just a light white dry brush over all of it so the white edges weren’t so stark. I also did a very heavy coat of outdoor polyurethane over the entire thing.
Step 2: Staging and Setting Up
And that’s it guys! It only took me about an hour and a half to put together, an easy project that I think really added some character to her deck! The 555 is my Grandparents’ old milk number so this was once a working milk can as they owned a dairy farm throughout my mom’s childhood. She still talks about her dad getting up at 4:30 every morning to milk the cows.