Bedside table with vintage iron grate

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Project by Andy Panko posted 03-15-2012 09:03 PM 1666 views 4 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Our previous house was an 1894 colonial. When I remodeled it and took up the carpets the previous folk put in, I found that a few of the floors had large iron grates in them. The grates are decorative and have mechanical louvres on the underside. From what I gather, this was a way to get heat from the basement to the upper floors. There was a little coal closet in the basement. So I guess they made a coal fire and let the heat rise up through the levels via grates in the floors. Anyway, when we moved to our current house five years ago, I took a grate with us. My wife planned on me doing some sort of woodworking project to incorporate the grate as a decorative element. I just recently got around to doing said project…

I made a bedside table for our spare room. I didn’t want to spend too much time or money on it, so I did it all out of pre-milled 3/4” select pine from Home Depot. The only jointing or planing I did was to laminate three pieces together to make the legs. And I didn’t want to overdo it time-wise making lots of mortis and tenon joints. Everything is just pocket screwed together, which is plenty strong considering this table will literally just sit there with no use and it has no moving parts. The grate simply rests in the top in rabets – it is not mechanically fastened. The grate alone weighs about 30 pounds so I’m not worried about it tipping or falling out.

It is finished in Minwax red chestnut stain and a couple coats of poly. Done.

- Andy

-- Andy Panko, Edison NJ,

12 comments so far

View doncutlip's profile


2832 posts in 2648 days

#1 posted 03-15-2012 10:21 PM

I like it, looks good

-- Don, Royersford, PA

View RockyTopScott's profile


1184 posts in 2570 days

#2 posted 03-15-2012 10:41 PM

I gotta remember this

-- “When you want to help people, you tell them the truth. When you want to help yourself, you tell them what they want to hear.” ― Thomas Sowell

View JohnnyB's profile


94 posts in 1481 days

#3 posted 03-15-2012 11:28 PM

What a grate idea! (Sorry)

-- JohnnyB - - Sometimes determination can substitute for skill.

View poopiekat's profile


4056 posts in 2826 days

#4 posted 03-15-2012 11:58 PM

A perfect marriage of old and new!

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View cabmaker's profile


1402 posts in 1901 days

#5 posted 03-16-2012 01:19 AM

Love it Andy . Very clever idea.

View dpow's profile


492 posts in 1936 days

#6 posted 03-16-2012 01:33 AM

Nice project. I wonder how many grates like that one ended up in the land-fills over the years? I have a couple out in the garage somewhere that I didn’t have the heart to toss because I thought they could be used for something someday. You have given me some ideas. Thanks for sharing

-- Doug

View josh's profile


1039 posts in 1661 days

#7 posted 03-16-2012 02:29 AM

I love that you incorporated that old grate into some furniture. Bravo!

-- Josh; Former Pennsylvanian, current Coloradan

View Woodwrecker's profile


3769 posts in 2667 days

#8 posted 03-16-2012 02:54 AM

Nice job Andy.
Great way to celebrate the past, and bring it in to the future.

-- Eric down in sunny Florida.

View JohnEinNJ's profile


94 posts in 1439 days

#9 posted 03-16-2012 06:03 PM

Great idea, nicely executed. I’ll be keeping an eye out for a grate at junk & antique stores.

View RandyM68's profile


693 posts in 1410 days

#10 posted 03-22-2012 12:35 PM

I like that idea. have you ever watched “Picker Sisters”? That’s what they do. Find some old piece of junk and turn it into furniture. Some idiot would pay $500 for that table. If you take it to L.A. you can probably get a grand for it.

-- I can explain it to you, but I can't understand it for you. I'm sorry,thanks.

View Bob817's profile


661 posts in 1474 days

#11 posted 05-02-2012 02:26 PM

Nice job and a clever idea, the things creative people think of ….. amazing

-- ~ Bob ~ Newton, N.H.

View SirFatty's profile


510 posts in 1304 days

#12 posted 05-14-2012 01:54 PM

A house that I lived in had these as well, but they were connected to duct work from a coal fired furnace (I’d be willing to bet that is the case in yours as well).

We replaced the furnace with a conventional natural gas type, but left a few of the registers in the floor. As a kid they were just big enough to squeeze through and drop down to a lower floor.

-- Visit my blog at

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