How to make an antique telescope display stand

I know that this blog post is pretty specific and won’t have a huge audience, but I am really proud of this simple project and wanted to share it in case it can be helpful to someone. While at an antique store a few months ago, we stumbled across an antique telescope. I love unique antique items and thought that it might work as décor in our basement. Keep reading for an overview of how we made this antique telescope display stand.

The finished stand with telescope
The finished stand with telescope

Project preparation

Although we didn’t purchase the original telescope we saw at the antique store, I found one on eBay that I really liked and that was almost three feet long when extended. The plan was to display the telescope on our custom live-edge walnut bar table in the basement. The table is over seven feet long so we needed a telescope that was fairly substantial. I also thought the telescope was really interesting because it is wrapped in rope secured with wax. Since most antique telescopes are covered in leather, I thought this telescope was really interesting and unique.

I initially did a Google search to get inspiration for this project. It turns out that telescope display stands aren’t something that you can find online easily, but I was able to find one image that we used as a basic model. For this project, we decided to use a piece of cherry that was left over from the cutting boards Brian made last fall. Although I generally love the darker tones of walnut, the table that the stand sits on is walnut, so we chose a lighter wood that we thought would contrast nicely with the table.

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Project overview

We first cut the cherry board to size using Brian’s new compound miter saw. We cut it about five inches wide and about two inches longer than the fully extended telescope. To get the look that I wanted for the edge of the base, we had to purchase a decorative drill bit from the local woodcraft store. Brian used it to cut the decorative edge with his router and then we sanded it well.

The next step was to design the two support pieces on which the telescope would sit. Based on the image I found online and the measurements of the telescope and base, I sketched out the shape that I wanted as a stencil. Then we folded the stencil in half and cut it out to ensure that it was symmetrical. We traced the stencil on some cherry scraps and Brian cut them out with the bandsaw.

The tricky part was cutting out the center of the support pieces because they are different sizes. We cut out and sanded down the support for the larger end of the telescope first. Then we were able to measure how deep the other support needed to be and we cut out and sanded it down to size as well. We used a drill with drum standing bits to get a nice even, smooth finish on the support pieces.

Finishing

Once both pieces were cut out, I sanded everything well. Because the stand won’t get much wear and tear, we decided that gluing the support pieces to the base with wood glue would be sufficient. We used the telescope to determine where each support piece should be positioned and then glued them into place.

Once the glue was dry, we decided to use a very light stain (Minwax Golden Pecan). I applied two coats of the stain. Once the stain was dry, I used Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane Aerosol Spray. I love this product because it goes on much more quickly and evenly than traditional polyurethane or polycrylic that you have to apply with a brush. Once the polyurethane was dry, the project was finished. I think the stand looks great on the walnut table and nicely highlights the antique telescope.

Tools used

To complete this project, we used the following supplies:

  1. A piece of wood the appropriate size (we used a milled piece of ¾ inch thick piece of cherry from a lumber store)
  2. Compound miter saw
  3. Router
  4. Router bit for edge of base (we used the Freud Cove and Bead Bit 38-302)
  5. Sandpaper
  6. Paper and pencil to create stencil
  7. Bandsaw
  8. Drill
  9. Sanding drum kit
  10. Wood glue and painters tape
  11. Stain (we used Minwax Golden Pecan)
  12. Polyurethane aerosol spray
The telescope and stand on the walnut bar table
The telescope and stand on the walnut bar table

What do you think of this project? Have you ever made a display stand for an antique piece?

If you are looking for more DIY inspiration, be sure to check out some of my other posts. You might like my post on our vintage organ pipe wall art (also in our basement) or our vintage cedar chest makeover.

I am so glad you visited us at Jack and Bax. If you haven’t already done so, be sure to subscribe to our newsletter (sign up available either on the right sidebar or at the bottom of the page). And please follow me on Instagram and Facebook so that you don’t miss any of my upcoming projects!

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