I had a bunch of old useless things laying around, and I recently had an idea to put them all together and make them useful again. I had about 35 old wrenches in various conditions that I bought as part of a lot at an estate sale 5+ years ago and also, I had 4 54" lengths of 1"x 3" lumber that I had for about 6 months from a resale shop. The lumber wasn't in terrible condition, but it did have minor damage on the ends of each board. I suspect they might have been used as slats for a bed in their previous life. With these materials, I had an idea to create a piece of wall art for the garage that depicts who I am and my love for cars and just doing it myself in general. So with my idea in mind, I went out and bought the remaining materials I would need: a sheet of pegboard, a 250' spool of galvanized wire, and 5/16" hardware to put it all together (6 x 2" bolts, 8 x 2.5" bolts, 28 x cut washers, 14 x nuts).
Next, I laid out the wrenches on the pegboard until I was satisfied, and I fastened them in place by wrapping wire around both ends of each wrench, running the wire ends through the pegboard, and twisting them in the back.
I used the unfinished back of the pegboard as the front of my project, instead of the white laminated side, for reasons that will become apparent later. Then I cut the pegboard off, leaving a good margin for a frame. After that, I designed my frame using these measurements: Pegboard - 20"x34" Frame - 24.25"x39.25". I designed the frame so that there are 6 boards: 2x17" for the sides on the front, 2x39.25" for the top and bottom on the front, and 2x24.25" for the sides on the back to hold it all together. This picture shows the back of the project and how there are 3 layers - the front frame, the pegboard, and the back frame:
I wanted the project to have a worn and rustic look to match the 10 to 60 year old wrenches, so I sanded the frame pieces with some 60 grit and stained them with a stain that I cooked up. First I used a rag to stain the boards with a concentrated tea brew (4 tea bags of the cheapest brand I could find with ~1.5 cups of water). This picture shows a cut and sanded board (bottom) and one still wet after tea staining (top):
This picture shows a raw board (top), a sanded board (middle), and dry tea stained board (bottom):
After that coat dried, I cooked up the second part that really produces and locks in the color I was looking for. To do this, I used a process called ebonizing, which chemically causes the xylem and phloem tissues in the wood to absorb the stain in the same way they operate in living plants. This process literally alters the color of the cells of the wood instead of sitting on top of them like conventional stains or paints. To initiate this process, I used the chemical Iron(II)Acetate. I formed this chemical by dissolving steel wool in vinegar. I separated the steel wool as best I could to create greater surface area and I heated the mixture while stirring it, all to increase the reaction rate.
I then left the steel wool in the vinegar for ~24 hours until I was ready to use it. Because steel is an iron/carbon alloy, there will be a carbon wool left in the mixture. Be careful with the liquid Iron(II)Acetate as it is a skin irritant and will cause a burning or stinging feeling. I then stained the wood pieces with the Iron(II)Acetate using the carbon wool rather than a rag to get better penetration and absorption. The stain will lighten as it dries. Because I used a highly concentrated tea stain and a nearly complete reaction for the ebonizing, the color I got was a weathered dark gray-brown. It looks almost like the wood was soaked in used motor oil, which fits my theme. This image shows the dried frame after tea staining and ebonizing:
This picture shows the current product laid out:
Next, I needed to get the hardware to match everything else since I bought it new and was bright and shiny.
To do this, I made a pan out of aluminum foil, put the hardware in it, and built a charcoal/wood fire on top of it to burn off the zinc coating. I then let them soak for ~12 hours in a saltwater solution so that the natural oxidation and corrosion processes would be quickened. This image shows the finished weathered hardware:
I used the leftover tea to stain the pegboard and I ebonized it with the leftover ferrous acetate. I didn't want the same uniform look as the frame, which would have been impossible with the wrenches already in place, so I broke up the colors by spattering the chemical all over the pegboard and pouring it on in a few places. Doing this also helped to break up and weather the shinier look in the faster wire and some of the newer wrenches. This whole process gave the pegboard an authentic weathered and heavily used appearance so that the subject of the "art" had an old, messy, utilitarian feel contained by the uniform look of the frame, which also kept the weathered feel constant. This photo shows the product after staining and ebonizing:
After that, I laid everything out with the pegboard sandwiched between the front and back frame pieces and I measured and drilled the holes for the hardware. I then started the final assembly by using the 6 2" bolts where the thickness was only 1 board plus the pegboard and using the 8 2.5" bolts where the thickness was 2 boards plus the pegboard. After putting the bolts through the holes and washers on the front and back with the nuts on the back side, I tightened everything up.
The finished project had a little mass to it, but it wasn't too much to hang, so I drilled a hole 4" from the top in the middle of each back board on the sides to attach a hanger. Because of the weight, I decided to use 2 5' lengths of galvanized wire twisted together to create 1 wire. I then ran each end of the wire through the holes on each side and then back around the back boards and twisted the ends around the wire on the inside. This image shows how I constructed the hanging system:
That finished up the project, so I found a spot in the garage and hung it on a large picture hook.
I could have used a less concentrated tea stain to make a lighter brown color or a partially reacted iron/acetic acid/ferrous acetate solution for a lighter gray hue, and I probably should have left a larger margin on the pegboard to allow me to center the bolts on the frame, but I am extremely happy with the way it all turned out and the "message" the finished product conveys, if you're into that kind of thing. The work pretty accurately explains who I am by using old worn out materials for another purpose, incorporating automotive aspects, and doing it all on my own - even making my own stain. Thanks for checking out my project and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did making it.This message has been edited. Last edited by: kstrayhorn,
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