Before I update y’all on my latest adventure, I think it’s important that I share a couple of things with you:
- I am not very handy. I once took an entire day off of work to fix a leaking s-trap in my kitchen sink. 8-hours and at least 4 trips to the hardware store later, the sink was still leaking and I had to call a plumber.
- I am notorious for starting and not finishing a project timely. It took me 10 YEARS to make a quilt out of my college t-shirts.
- I chronically underestimate how long a project will take.
- I own very few tools, shockingly few as a home owner.
- I am not a very patient person.
- I am cheap and hate spending money unless it is on “fun” things (mainly trips and experiences)
Knowing all this, you may (or may not) be surprised to learn that my latest adventure took me into the furniture DIY arena. When I moved into my house years ago, my aunt and uncle generously handed down their old kitchen table – a nice, solidly built table that was still in great condition.
The table is old, likely 20 to 25 years-old and the protective finish now gone. Ignorant of the deteriorating protective finish, I managed to damage the top of the table over the course of a few months with disinfectant spray (applied to some remotes after a bout with a 24 hour virus), hot coffee cups, and too thin of pot holders. After dealing with the unsightly stains for several months, I finally enlisted the help of my Dad to refinish the top of my table.
Why refinish and not buy new? After all, it was an old hand-me-down table and unlike 8 years ago, I could afford to buy an actual. There are 2 reasons. Reason 1 – I am cheap. And being cheap, why would I buy a new table, when I had a perfectly good table at home?! Reason 2 – I like the idea of being a handy DIYer capable of ‘up cylcing’ and customizing furniture. I am a strong, independent lady, I got this! 😉
How has it gone? Slowly.
Day 1: Saw Horses and Sanding
After removing the legs and disassembling the top of the table (to make it easier to carry), we were about to carry the top outside for sanding when my Dad inquired as to where my saw horses were. I started laugh. Saw horses!? I do not own saw horses. I own tape, a drill, a hammer, and about 5 screw drivers. And that is about the extent of my tool box. (Don’t worry, I have a little more than that, but not much!)
No saw horses = no surface suitable for sanding. Less than an hour into our project, we were on our way to the hardware store (trip 1). Returning with my brand spanking new saw horses, I am finally ready to truly begin my project!
I somehow thought sanding would take an hour, maybe 2. I was using an electric rotary sander, so I assumed it would go quickly! Not so much. My table, took me 3-4 hours to sand. 3-4 hours!!
Once the table was sanded down, we realized my table top was a beautiful pale wood of indeterminate origin. Too pale for the natural oak varnished that we purchased! We had been expecting oak, and bought a clear varnish to bring out the natural color of the oak. Needless to say the varnish wasn’t going to work aka it would not match or at least coordinate with the color on the chairs (the table is 2 toned – a golden oak table top and chair seats, with white legs and chair backs).
Day 1 was sanding, and more sanding, and more sanding. I had thought we would at least get one coat of stain applied!
Day 2: The Hardware Store and Quest for a Wipe-On Stain
Sunday morning I headed back to the hardware store for trip #2 to grab wood stain and associated staining tools (steel wool, no lint cloths, wood conditioner, stain, mineral spirits, tack cloth).
I never have much luck finding things on my own at Lowe’s or Home Depot, so my typical strategy is to enlist the help of a friendly employees to find whatever I am after. Does anyone else do this? This time, my strategy failed me. The man in the paint/stain section at Lowe’s was somewhat less than helpful. Probably the least helpful person I have ever encountered at Lowe’s / Home Depot. I was having difficulty finding a wipe-on stain (what I was told to buy) and when I asked for his help, he looked at me as if I was a crazy and ignorant woman, “they don’t make wipe-on stains, only a 2-in-1 wipe on stain/varnish combo”. I explained this is not what I was looking for, only to get a “that’s not how stains work” and an abrupt turn and walk-away.
Annoyed and now unsure, I called my dad to confirm that wipe-on stains do in fact exist. Turns out – they do exist, I just needed to read the instructions on the back of the can to find one that would work! (Thanks Dad for the classic, common sensical advice!) After hunting down everything I needed, which took me far longer than it should have, because I now refused to ask that man for any additional help, I successfully secured all of my list.
With Sunday being even colder than Saturday, I did accomplish any other work on my table other than a 2nd trip to the hardware store.
Fast forward to the following Saturday (now a full calendar week and 3 “working” days into a project I expected to take 2 days), I carried my table into the house and set up staining shop in my semi-questionable basement.
(Thanks Brad for making me strong enough to haul half of a solid wood table top by myself!)
Over the course of that day, I was able to clean, condition, and apply an initial coat of stain. The table will need a couple more coats of stain, to be continued next Saturday (hopefully!).
Did you all know you should condition wood before applying stain? Apparently it helps the stain absorb more evenly so that the finish product turns out looking better! Who knew?! But given how fast and thoroughly my table absorbed the conditioner, I am glad I took the time for the extra step!
So, how does it look?
In my humble opinion, it’s looking pretty darn good! I am pretty impressed with my sanding abilities and the stain is looking smooth and complete – not gloppy at all! A pretty big accomplishment for someone who is not handy or DIY inclined!
Here are a couple of preliminary pics, I will share more when the table is complete.
Enjoy and I hope you are having a wonderful day!
were needed. Back to the store I head