A couple years ago we replaced our old heavy wooden garage door with a lightweight aluminum door. I hung onto the panels since they were made with high quality pine wood and marine grade plywood. I turned one of the panels into a workbench in my garage, and 2 others were reserved for a new dining room table. Thanks to the furniture contest, I finally took the time to make the table.
I tossed around several ideas on how to fill the recessed pockets of the door sections. The first thought was to fill them with concrete and grind and polish the surface much like a concrete countertop. However, if I did that, it would cover up most of the beautiful wood grain. So I decided on a clear epoxy. Because of this decision, I found out HOW MUCH epoxy is required to fill the recesses and cover an entire 48" x 83" table top, and also just how expensive it is! Sometimes, finding the right solution to upcycle materials will cost you more money than just buying new ones, but where is the fun in that!? I don't think you could ever buy a table made from a garage door at the mega furniture stores.
Step 1: Getting started and planning
LET'S GET STARTED
Because this is such a specialized project and I highly doubt many people have old wooden garage door sections lying around, please look at this instructable more as an inspiration for other possibilities of making custom furniture. My approach to this project was to try to plan as much as possible, but the majority of the work was trial and error. I want to share lessons learned and ideas to make your own furniture as painlessly as possible.
I laid out the general idea of the table in CATIA - yes I know a little bit of overkill on the CAD software, but hey, it's what I do for a living so why not!? I actually used the CAD model to calculate the exact amount of Epoxy I would need. I had the option of just leaving both sections at their length (8') and using them side by side, OR I could cut the sections in half and butt them up against one another. Leaving them long and side by side made for a really long skinny table whereas cutting them and stacking them end to end made for a semi-really-long and wide table. Stacking them also allowed for more symmetry due to how these garage doors were made. - see pictures for explanation.
I started by attempting to scrape the peeling paint off the doors. This proved to be very difficult as there were approximately 60 years worth of paint stuck to the door. Since I wasn't using the painted side of the door for the top, I didn't spend a lot of time trying to remove paint. I basically wanted to make sure I didn't have loose paint chips coming off the bottom of the table. (Note* - I want to point out that I have no idea if the paint on these doors was lead based. I made sure that any paint that could be peeled, picked, or knocked off was removed and sanded smooth. Any unsealed painted surface would not be exposed to food and would be out of reach of prying hands. Please keep this in mind when working with older painted materials.)