Friday, August 19, 2011

Making Newer Things Older {Table Transformation}

As you probably know by now, one of my obsessions hobbies is tweaking our house, 
bit by bit, as cheaply as possible. For a while now I've been staring at our kitchen table, 
trying to imagine how to save it from its discolored, nicked-up, ignominy. 
I liked the shape and size, but the finish was just gunky. 
You can't really tell from this photo, but trust me people.

 I contemplated a long, slim, antique, well-worn farmhouse table

But then I remembered that our dining room is small and squarish and I really couldn't justify 
getting rid of our perfectly solid and perfectly proportioned (for our home) table. 
So I refinished it. 
It was a risky move. 
I knew it would take a lot of work, 
and I'd never refinished a major piece of furniture before. 
It was possible that I'd ruin the table altogether. 
But that gunk!
So I did it.

 I thought I'd chronicle the process here, just in case you are a complete novice like me,
trying to create an antique-looking bit of something or other out of a garage sale find. 
(Yes, we bought this table at our neighbors' garage sale years ago for an embarassingly low price.)

These are the first weapons I took to the task:
  • Citristrip spray, about 3 cans (I didn't end up using the paint-on kind.)
  • protective gloves
  • a plastic scraper
  • 80 grit sandpaper (and an electric sander)

First I sprayed on the stripper and waited for 30 minutes. Then things got really ooey-gooey. This stuff caused the black paint to wipe off, revealing a deep red stain under the paint. 
The clumps of junk coming off of this thing looked like coagulated blood and guts mixed with tar.

So, before I started sanding I used this Citristrip After Wash 
and wiped the whole thing down with many paper towels.

Much better.
Or is it?

This was the part of the process when I was the most skeptical. 
A hot pink table was not exactly what I had in mind.

So I started sanding and sanding and sanding. and sanding.
and. sand. ing.

I think my wrist is still recovering from the hours of vibration. 
But I got results. Instead of a hot pink table I had a light pink table. 
(At this point I was still thinking this whole thing was probably a pretty big, time-consuming mistake.)

As the day drew to a close I sent my kids out with pitchforks and table forks 
to attack that pale pink beauty. They took to the task with gusto.

I had decided to try to weather the table, give it some good dents and holes in an attempt to age it. 
I had noticed that the real antique farmhouse table at our reunion house 
was pretty battered and banged up, and I liked it.

I created the finish by following the steps recommended by the guy at Lowe's, 
and then I went off-grid. 
I became the rogue refinisher. 
I did not wear a mask.
Or a cape.

I rummaged around in the garage and found a bit of this and a bit of that and started layering and wiping and banging and hammering. And, well, here was the method to my madness:

  • Wipe on/wipe off wood conditioner (recommended by the Lowe's guy, but probably unnecessary, since I didn't really care how even the finish was ~ I was trying to make it look old, remember?)
  • Cabot wood stain in "English Leather" (At this point the color was too red for my liking and I went in to study the various shades of patina on our authentic antique wooden chest we use as a coffee table. I noticed that there were a lot of gold tones and even gray, almost dirty tones.)
  • Sand with 110 grit paper
  • Minwax wood stain in "Early American"
  • Sand again
  • Cabot wood stain in "Colonial Maple" (for the more golden tones)
  • More banging and hammering to add imperfections (detailed below)
  • At this point it was still too bright and new looking for my taste, so I rummaged around some more and found an old sample of dark gray paint. I watered it down a bit and wiped it on and then quickly wiped it off. This toned down the brightness of the stains and created a less even, more aged look. At least that's what I think it did. It also filled in all those imperfections with dark patina.

 Here's the result of all that freestyle layering ~

I tried to copy the kinds of dings and marks I saw on the real table

Here's how I did it:

~ an allen wrench hammered on its side to make the elbow mark ~

~ a large screw hammered on its side along the shaft, the head, 
and pointy-side down to make clusters of "worm holes"
(Seriously, these were all over the real one.) ~

~ the box-ring end of a large wrench, hammered to make partial circles ~

~ and the hammer itself ~

Then I brushed on a satin finish polyurethane, sanding lightly with 220 grit paper between coats.
I did four coats on the top of the table and two coats on the pedestal base and legs.

And here's the final result:

The stain is muted enough that I think it fits in with the room 
and with the other, older wood finishes.

It's battered up enough that I'm not worried about the kids messing it up.

It was definitely a risk, but I kind of liked the process.
Except for the stripping part.
That part was yucky.

What do you think?


  1. You did a really great job of this. It looks so much better now!

  2. Gorgeous work Laura! I love it! Can you come visit Carrie and do my table too?


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...