I'm not going to call this a tutorial because I know there are better ways of doing this, so today I'm going to show you one way to make a large chicken wire frame (not necessarily the best way).
|Valentine Mantel with Natural Elements|
This project took almost a year to finish, can you believe it took me so long!? I started it the end of May last year and didn't finish it until this last February. Have any projects like this? I had a grand vision of how it was all going to go together so perfectly until I got started on it and it all fell apart--literally!
Here's the story...
I started with 3- 1x3x8's (really measure 5/8" x 2 1/2 x 8). These boards are cheap--like less than $2 each. You could also use 4- 1x3x6 boards. They were cut into four - 4' lengths, and four- 2' lengths. (Lowe's and Home Depot will cut them for you.)
My dad gave me an old piece of chicken wire that he didn't need, so that was free. Sorry, I haven't priced it out so I don't know how much it would cost to buy new.
I first applied glue to the inside edges of the boards and used these little joint brackets (the metal piece in the picture below) to hold the boards together. There were so many joints in the frame, and it was so big, that it wasn't strong at all. The frame wobbled and moved to the point that some of the joint brackets fell right back out, it broke apart in places where it was glued, and the frame pretty much fell apart. It was so frustrating I gave up on it and set it aside.
The pieces of wood sat in my storage room (where I keep my unfinished projects) for 10 months until the day I became determined to use it for my Valentine Mantel and finally figured out a way to fix my problem that didn't involve spending any more money on it--(no big surprise if you're a regular reader) I used paint sticks!
I cut the paint sticks, pre-drilled holes into the wood frame, and then used screws I had on hand to attach the paint sticks and secure the corners of the frame. (Make sure the screws are short enough that they won't go through to the front.) When it actually worked I was so, so happy!
The frame though is still only as strong as the paint sticks so I used a few of the metal joint pieces and glued all of the boards together as well. I think a better solution would have been to cut a thin board out into the shape of the corner and glue and then screw it to the frame. Our jigsaw is a cheap piece of junk though and won't cut even a straight line, so that wasn't an option for me. (A new one is on my wish list!)
I used a staple gun to attach the wire, be sure to wear safety glasses. Staple the centers of the top, bottom, and sides, pulling the wire as tight as you can. Position the staple over the wire so the wire doesn't slip on the staple when you let go of it. Staple around the edges pulling it tight as you go. It would be a good idea to wear some thin gloves to protect your fingers when you are pulling the wire tight. I wish I had, my fingers were pretty sore by the time I was done. It would have been nice to have someone to help with this step too. Use wire cutters to trim off the extra wire.
The painting didn't start out any better than the frame did, but in the end was just what I was going for. I first painted it with Heirloom White spray paint and then stained over the top of it with Minwax dark walnut stain. It wasn't what I was hoping for, so I used a cloth rag and lightly wiped on some Alabaster white paint over it (allowing the other colors to show through in places) followed by some light sanding and more dark walnut stain. I was going for the old weathered look and it was looking a little too brown, so I used a rag again and lightly wiped over it with a dark glaze, applying it thicker to the edges of the wood.
I like to use a rag because it applies the paint unevenly and doesn't cover every bit of the previous colors. I also don't wait for the paint to fully dry before I sand or add another layer of paint or stain. I've found that if the paint is still slightly tacky when I sand, it's easier to get the worn barn wood paint look. Keep layering paint, sanding, and glazing until you get the look you like, it's really quite fun!
You can read more about the metal accents here.
Now that it's all been figured out and I'm done, I don't know why I struggled with it so much at first. It really wasn't that hard to finish in the end. I guess some projects are just like that!