In this Instructable, I show you how to reclaim old oak flooring and turn it into something useful, a trivet! Keep scrolling down to see how I did it and get an idea for your next DIY project!
Step 1: Getting Dirty in the Shop
I came into the shop one day and found about 6 feet of old oak flooring in the scrap bin. Normally I grab these scraps because they can be so useful for small projects such as knife handles or spoons. On this build, I was inspired by the unique colors in the grain so I decided to turn this scrap flooring into a trivet for my wife.
A disclaimer here: I use many advanced tools in the shop because I work out of a makerspace with a large budget for expensive tools. However, this project can be done and has been done for thousands of years using hand tools and basic tools found in nearly any garage. Please do not let the tools distract you from thinking you too can do this project with much less equipment. To begin, I had to make the board the same thickness, remove the finish on the top, and the grooves on the bottom. I did this on the Jet jointer. This tool ensures that the wood is coplanar, or the same all the way across the bottom. Next, I needed to take the board to the Jet thickness planer. This tool ensures the newly flat bottom has a flat top and that the board is the same thickness all the way across the top. Once both the top and bottom matched, I had to cut all the pieces to a similar length. I did this on the table saw to ensure that every cut was accurate.
Step 2: Figuring Out the Design
At this point, I had many similarly sized pieces and I began playing with fun designs. I tried many, as you can see in the pictures until I landed on the final design.
Step 3: There We Go!
And there we go! I love the shape! The ridges will make sure that hot air can escape in all directions.
Step 4: Turning Rectangles Into Squares
Once the final design was chosen, I glued the pieces into small square blocks.
Step 5: Time to Joint the Surfaces
The small squares were then taken to the Jet jointer again to ensure the bottoms were all co-planer.
Step 6: Turning Squares Into More Squares
As soon as the jointer and planer worked their magic and made the squares the same on the bottom, I took the squares over to the SawStop table saw to give them their final uniform size. Be careful when using the table saw and creep up on your final length. You want to make sure all the pieces are uniform and still square so not cutting off to much at a time will guarantee the pieces remain the same. The SawStop table saw is made with special technology that, if you were so unlucky as to touch the spinning blade, it would sense your skin and will not cut your fingers off like a standard table saw. Amazing!
Step 7: Another Glue-up!
Right after all the outside edges are square and cut to final length on the table saw, I glued up the squares into one huge 2×2 block. I used many many clamps to achieve equal clamping pressure. To hold the pieces down properly, I used a scarp piece of plywood under the squares to give it a nice level surface for reference.
Step 8: Final Prep
I had to wait overnight for the glue to dry before working on it more. I use Tightbond 2 and to ensure that the glue has properly cured, it is vital to wait 24 hours before continuing.
At the start of a fresh day and with the glue completely cured, I took the 2×2 square to the bench where I worked it with hand chisels and sandpaper. This step is important because it removes all the dried glue that hardened between the smaller pieces and to get into the gaps to smooth it out, round over edges, and ensure the entire trivet is looking beautiful.
Step 9: The Fun Part- Sanding
To get into all the hard to reach corners, I grabbed a small, square piece of scrap wood to wrap sand paper around. The crisp 90 degree angle of the scrap wood turns it into a sanding block which keeps all the angles accurate during sanding.
Step 10: Making Everything Perfectly Flat
After the inside of the trivet was perfect, I took the piece over to the belt sander where I worked the top and bottom back and forth for many minutes to get the sides perfectly flat and at similar heights. A trivet is only good if it is flat on top. Spills are messy and can be dangerous with hot liquids.
Step 11: Testing, Testing, Testing
I put the trivet on a flat surface to check if it rocked on the bottom and top. Thankfully, it did not. If I had any rocking, I would take it back to the belt sander and keep working the piece back and forth at all angles until it was flat.
Step 12: The Deliciousness of Poly
The project is almost complete at this stage and it is ready for final prep and finish. I gave the entire trivet one final light sanding with 220 grit sandpaper to take the raised grain down and bring out the color of the wood. Finally, I applied several coats of MinWax Wipe On Polyurethane. This finish is water resistant and does well in warm environments such as the bottom of a hot trivet. I keep my poly in a large pickle jar so it is easy to get a foam brush in there.
Step 13: TA-DA!
I was very happy how this project came out. It is always such a joy to take trash like an oak floor board and turn into a useful kitchen gadget. It makes my soul feel good to give life to an otherwise useless piece of trash that was thrown away and going to the dump.
If you liked this project, please consider subscribing to my YouTube channel where you can see the video of this build and many others. I am also on Instagram where you can see behind the builds. Also, please consider supporting me on Patreon so that I can continue to bring these sorts of projects to life and continue to upcycle, reclaim and restore.
Thanks for reading!