WORKING WITH MICHAEL'S HUTCHES
by: Wanna in El Paso
Wanna has recently put up a webpage with lots of pictures. You can find it by going to; http://www.geocities.com/jayceenep/michaels_hutches.htm
1) Collect pictures of hutches, cupboards, kitchen islands, work tables, etc., that appeal to you. Look at them closely to see how the hutches' sections might be used to duplicate the various components.
2) Since they're so inexpensive, buy several of each style of hutch. Some of the projects include gluing duplicate parts together.
3) GENERAL SUPPLIES:
- matboard and cardboard
- small mirrors, as from old compacts, etc.
- clear plastic for window glass
- stain for finishing (I use clear matte) and antiquing purposes (I use MinWax® Golden Pecan mostly)
- 1 inch or smaller disposable foam brushes, if possible, for applying stain; others will do
- sea sponge or old soft sponge of some type
- old underwear or t-shirt or something similar for wiping off stain
- long nose pliers; I use needle-nose
- craft knife; extra blades
- sandpaper; brown paper bags work well for finishing
- glue; I use Tacky or Sobo or Elmer's wood glue
- spray paint
- acrylic paints; I use the type in the small bottles from the craft store
- paper towels
- wax paper
- plastic wrap
4) If you're into stenciling, gather what you need. I find that stickers, paper doilies and paper lace are very useful, too.
5) Gather up small beads or whatevers that could be used for feet, and jewelry findings that might be suitable for handles or drawer pulls. Decorative toothpicks are good for various purposes, too, as are decorative moldings and laser trims.
6) Put all these items in a box.
7) Gather up plates, teapots (bet you have some of those little resin veggie ones, too), Chrsynbon dishes, foods, books and small do-dads that you like, for possible display. Paper plates with a coating applied work nicely in these hutches.
8) Look through your stash to see what collections you may have that you could display. Baby things? Toys? Holiday items? One of my hutches was used for a small assortment of chicken-related items; another showcases rabbits for my sister who collects rabbits; another is a gardening hutch, etc. Of course, a miscellany is good, too.
9) Trial fit the pieces in some of the cupboards to get an idea of what will go where.
10) Look through your plant collection. Almost any of these projects looks better with a plant on it or by it.
11) If you have a fabric you want to use as curtains inside an open door hutch, or to cover an open section below, pleat it in advance, if possible. I use the medium pleater, but any size will do. if you don't have a pleater, just do it the way you usually do. If you're not sure what you want to use, just gather up whatever you like in the colors you like; you can decide later.
12) Put everything from 7-11 above into a separate box; add things as you come across them. You can always put it all back in your old shoebox if you don't need it lol.
I will give more detailed descriptions with each project.
SEPARATING PIECES FOR RECOMBINING
Look at the back of the hutch where the upper and lower parts are glued together. Place this seam at the edge of a table so that one part hangs out in space. Press the upper half firmly down on the table and pull down hard on the extending part. If you are lucky, the two halves will break apart. If you are not, use your knife blade to gently poke all along the seam line, wiggling it back and forth gently, and then break the pieces apart. If this doesn't work, use your ingenuity!
REMOVING UNWANTED DOORS, KNOBS, FEET, TRIMS
Doors will often just pop out if you open them and press them backwards. Otherwise, use your pliers and gently push and pull until you have them out. Pull out any hinge pins. Do not throw away these doors; they can always be used for something later on.
Remove knobs and unwanted feet with pliers; set aside for re-use or for some other project if you are providing new ones.
If you wish, remove any existing trim at top by clasping it with long-nosed pliers and snapping it off. If all of it doesn't come off use the knife blade to slide along the seam and pry it away.
Do not despair if individual elements break apart. Remember, we did not pay much for these. Just glue them back together (be sparing with the glue if you are staining) or save all the pieces and you'll probably find another use for them later.
If your hutches have already been painted or stained, at this point touch up any skinned places with matching paint or stain.
Use sandpaper to smooth any roughness at seam separations. Use a finer grade of sandpaper or an emery board to smooth off the sharpest edges of the wood. Lightly sand all surfaces if you want a smoother finish. If you want a more rustic look, wait until after painting or staining to sand. Wipe surfaces with a soft cloth to remove sanding dust.
If you are going to paint, a light coat of white spray paint works as a general sealer and background, no matter what color your finish will be, or of course you can use a regular sealer. If you're staining, you can spray or brush on a coat of sealer first. I use MinWax clear matte finish and apply with a sponge brush, although this isn't necessary for most purposes. However, a coat of sealer on the edges of the wood prevents it from absorbing too much stain. Even a very thin coat of glue allowed to dry serves the same purpose.
I like to line up several hutches and spray or brush on the sealer all at the same time. My first efforts were all sprayed a butter yellow by my husband for a garden hutch club workshop; he sprayed a whole slew of them before I realized how bright the color was. I used the extras for other purposes, which explains why there's more than one yellow one!
If you are the type who can visualize a completed project before you even begin, you may wish to glue on new feet and extra trims before further finishing. I happen to be a person who sort of fiddles around until it looks okay, then I stop. You can always add some trims and feet later as you get further along.
With all your separate elements separated and the priming and sanding done, you have a collection of bases and shelf units. Place these together in various configurations to see what furniture pieces they represent. For example, two open shelf units glued open ends together become a tall bookcase; two bases glued together back to back with a new top can make a kitchen island or a large worktable; one base with a new top can become a smaller workbench or a dressing table. Another base with a new top and a back piece added can become a sea chest or a blanket chest; with a cushion on top you have a window seat. Upper sections can be glued side by side with a new top to form kitchen cabinets, etc.
TABLE TOPS AND CABINET BACKINGS
Look for photos of tile or marble to find patterns you like to make a tiled or marble top table or make the real thing; advertising pages for cosmetics and such in magazines like Victoria often have pieces big enough for our purposes. A piece of heavy duty foil, dull side out, can be wrapped, trimmed and glued around a piece of balsa or matboard to make an old-fashioned tin-topped table.
Look through your stash of decorative papers or tiny print fabrics to see what might suggest interesting backings inside your hutches.