How To Repurpose Cute Knob And Tube Components

“Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun.” — Mary Lou Cook
I re-purpose slath porcelaintuff.  I primarily use materials left from rehabbing our 120+ year old houses. There are oodles of vintage wood many rehab-ers toss out as scrap, especially the raw stuff from the plaster walls:  lath.  I love it, so raw and rustic.
Included are those cute, interestingly shaped porcelain parts from replacing knob and tube electrical.  Buckets of them.  As I awoke one morning, several ideas in the form of images, popped into my head.
I had already made some small lath boxes, but what about adding some knob and tube components?  They make great legs and handles adding a unique flair to each one.  The images in my head danced….
The Concept
 When using reclaimed materials, I let the materials dictate dimension rather than deciding on a certain size ahead of time.  Ragged ends, broken and cracked parts must be removed, leaving random lengths.
In the end, for a tray all you need to start is four lengths of wood, two pairs the same.  If all four happen to be the same, you have a square, if two and two, it’s a rectangle.  Here is my process:
 Making Boxes – The Tools:
  • a Stanley hand miter saw knob and tube
  • a small hammer
  • a set of corner picture frame clamps
  • a multi-purpose screwdriver
  • a cordless power drill

The Supplies:

  • Greased Lightning for cleaning the porcelain parts
  • Nitrile gloves (to protect my manicure – of course!)
  • Wood glue
  • E-600 glue (it will hold anything!)
  • Wood Glue
  • Lots of small brads and screws (estate sale finds)
  • Buckets of hex nuts and bolts (leftovers)
  • Paint samples.  I generally do not paint lath, but there are other bits I may add some color to.
 The Steps
  • Cut the Lath into pairs of the same length.  Most of the time I have already cleaned it, but if needed, I take a wire brush for a final scrub.
  • Place into the frame clamps, using the wood glue as you go
  • Using a very small drill bit, drill two small pilot holes in each joint.  Do not skip this step!  125 year old wood is well seasoned and can be brittle – this will avoid cracking.
  • Nail each corner and let set for a few hours or, better yet, overnight.
  • Measure the bottom and cut the lengths of lath or other wood material for the base.  I have used reclaimed cedar shingles or other bits of scrap wood as long as they are similar thickness
  • Cut, wood glue glue and fasten the base with more small nails
 knob and tube
At thisknob and tube point the box is complete.  I finish by adding felt pads on the bottom, and fabric inserts in the tray to give a bit of polish.
Adding the insulator  knob and tube bits make  cute legs and handles.  I use E600 and nails or screws to hold these in place.  NOTE:  In the absence of knob and tube, porcelain door knobs and handles can be used.   I use vintage leftovers from our stash.
knob and tubeHere is a simple mini cake stand I made comprised of porch parts with knob and tube for legs.
Love this but not able to DIY?  Good news, you can still have it.  Just go to my online shop or email me at and you can have one (or several) for your own!
At Maison Steinbuchel Handmade, each item individually  assembled and finished.   Each is unique.
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I am a former air traffic controller, pilot, Aircoupe owner, married 42 years to a great guy. We live in a 125+ year old historic Victorian, enjoy cats, vintage anything, precious friends. My passion is Giving Lost Stories A Voice – Giving Found Materials Fresh Form and Purpose!

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