The cottage life is an obsession for many Canadians. We are fortunate here to have zillions of lakes and rivers, and the especially lucky have waterfront properties that range from glorified shipping crates to palatial estates comprised of several multi story buildings (and that's just where the servants sleep). Regardless of the level of cottage luxury, we all love to get in or on that water and float about for as long as we can.
Alas, summer is short. So, to enhance and elongate the hours spent happily in your favorite floatie chair or inner tube, you need a floatie side table. Where else can you keep close-to-hand all the dire necessities required to go to sea (well, lake, actually) and not come back until the frogs go to sleep for the winter?
Love me some frogs!!
So, rifle through your neighbours' trash or your own for some handy sheets and chunks of packing foam, and save all those off cuts from your building and reno projects and away you go.
Do it now so you are ready for when the warm weather begins.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
- one or two sheets of Styrofoam or whatever off brand stuff used to pack things for overseas journeys, larger sized pieces at least 25cm x 55cm (10" x 21") 2.5cm (1") to 5cm (2") thick.
- strips of scrap wood of similar thickness, 30 to 60 pieces, whatever you need to cover your foam sheets
- other wood scraps to the sides and a little wall around your final sheet
- fabric, 2 pieces about 35cm x 20cm (14" x 8")
- foam block about 10cm (4") thick, 10cm (4") x 20cm (8")
- wood glue
- Gorilla Glue (or whatever sticks foam together)
- spar varnish or rust resistant paint
- marine quality silicone caulking/sealant
- saw (best to use a table saw or band saw)
- clamps (lots) (in a pinch, use vinyl tape or heavy objects, such as a bag of potatoes)
- needle and thread
- handy, but not necessary, a drill, staple gun
Step 2: Floatie Table Base and Cup Holders
Line up all your scrap strips and glue them together so that you have two long pieces of joined up strips large enough to cover the top and bottom of your floatie tray table.
Lay the piece of foam on top, mark the edges, and trim the cover sheets to fit the foam sheet(s). I used two sheets, to get a sturdier and deeper table top, because my sheets were only about 2.5cm 1" thick.
Use Gorilla Glue to glue the foam sheets together and more to glue the wood strip sheets on the top and bottom. Sandwich it all together in one tidy rectangle, matching corners and edges, and clamp in as many places as possible because Gorilla Glue expands a bit as it cures and could creep through the layers and dislodge the wood glue joints if its not all clamped down tight.
While you are waiting for that to set, trim two blocks of foam to about 10cm x 10 cm x 10 cm (4"x 4" x4"). Cut a hole in each about 7.5cm (3") diameter, or whatever you need to hold your favourite beverage. I used a heated palate knife for this, because I HATE the creepy sound and feel of cutting foam with a knife. You get a bit of burnt foam stink with the hot knife method. Chose your own poison here.
Let the new cat play with the cut out bit of foam, because you will not get rid of him otherwise and he will start licking the Gorilla Glue or something, which is not good for him.
Step 3: Cup Holder Upholstery
Wrap each cup holder in fabric and secure snugly. You might be able to glue it, but I have no patience, so I just sewed it on. Tuck the fabric into the centre hole from both ends. Fold and tack down the corners neatly and sew in place. Again, you can glue it, but you have to let the glue dry and clamp it some how and the cat will get into it and all heck will break lose..... Trim and fold the fabric on the bottom, sewing it in place. It doesn't have to look nice. This will be hidden against the table top, so don't fret. Just try to make it tidy and flat.
Step 4: Railing and Assembly
Use Gorilla Glue to stick your cup holders on your table top. Rather than risking squishing the foam with a clamp, I rested a box of tiles on top until the glue was cured, thus squishing them evenly, I suppose. But it worked nicely. You could use the sack of potatoes here if you don't have a box of tiles handy.
I used a bunch of small end cuts of "2x4"s and cut them in half into triangles. To make a nice little wave-like railing around the floatie table top, I used 12 pieces of triangle, incorporating the sides of the upholstered cup holders. Depending on what wood scraps you have to work with, you may do something different. But you want some sort of edge to keep things on the table or the next time Buddy goes by in his obnoxious jet ski and creates a wave you will lose all your small treasures. Glue on your railing pieces. Clamp or use tape to hold in place.
Cover the sides of your floatie table with strips of wood similar to the ones you used to make the top and bottom covers. If you have slightly thicker wood on the sides if you have it.
Seal the edges, top, bottom, and corners with marine grade silicone. Its very smelly. Try to do this out doors or in a well ventilated space.
Decorate with acrylic paints, if you like.
Apply spar varnish or rust resistant paint. Many layers. Many many many layers. G'head -- add one more layer even though you think you have enough. Don't be skimpy. Let it dry between each coat. ALL OVER, including the upholstered cup holders.
Step 5: Lock and Load
After all your layers of spar varnish are dry, just add am eye hook and a little rope and you are ready to ease into your favourite floatie chair, tie one your floatie side table and float away. You have room for a book (maybe put it in a big baggie), a little cloth to dry your hands, sunscreen, your beverage of choice and whatever else you want to take along.
Shameless Self Promotion for recommended reading: Go Home Lake (publisher Second Story Press, available on Amazon and Chapters Indigo and in fine book stores ) by me, Megs Beach, is a dark and humorous anti-nostalgia tale about the trials and tribulations of child in a toxic family.
Apologies for not taking the photo in the lake, but its February in Canada and there is not a lot of open water available. Its mostly frozen.