The time I rescued a table

The Time I Rescued a TableI’ve always liked to make things, but it’s only been in the last few months that I’ve developed a strange new obsession with rescuing old things. Our neighbours left this crappy old table out on the nature strip when they moved out last year:


It’s solid pine (I diagnosed that when I tried to pick it up by myself), but it was in baaaad condition. You can probably see the fork marks, nail polish, etc all over the surface. Underneath there was gum. Yuck!

Before taking it apart, I borrowed a friend’s sander, and sanded the crap out of the tabletop with 60 grit pads. Once I had gotten out all the holes, dents and stains, I went over it again with 180 grit paper to give it a soft satiny feel. I had to do all the edges by hand (Mario helped a lot with that!) because pine is very soft, and the sander would have eaten them away instantly. Here are some progress photos:

IMG_0485 IMG_0486 IMG_0493 IMG_0498 IMG_0503

At this point, I came up with what I wanted the finished product to look like:


So after the top was finished (it was much easier to do it while the legs were still attached), I disassembled the table, and began sanding the legs. While they were in much better condition than the table top, they still needed to have the varnish roughed up so that the white paint would adhere properly. Flaky or damaged varnish leads to flaky paint! I also sanded the underside of the table top with the electric sander just to make it match the top. Two chairs came with the table, and we bought a set of 4 others in a similar style off gumtree for $70. The varnish on the chairs was badly damaged, but I didn’t spend as much time sanding them as I should have. I was pretty sick of sanding by that point. What I did do was head down to the local paint store and get a heavy duty white primer which went all over the chairs (like glue), and covered up the imperfections. After several coats of primer, I painted the chairs antique white. The table legs got the same treatment – 2 coats of primer, 2 coats of paint.


After everything was sanded, primed and painted, Mario and I coated the table top with a clean water-based polyurethane. Water based is not as durable as oil based, so we did several coats. We used a beautiful good quality paint brush so that the brush lines in the varnish would be minimal. I chose to use water-based for several reasons: it’s better for the environment, dries faster and won’t kill you if you inhale too many fumes.


Then, finally, it was time to reassemble the table. I replaced a few nuts and bolts on the table to make it sturdier than it was (it was pretty wobbly for a solid wood table!)


And now… It looks like this:


We get comments on it all the time, and people generally can’t believe that we restored it ourselves. The whole project cost around $200 (a fairly significant donation was made to the table fund by a certain parent), but it would be more if you had to loan a sander. That $200 included a small tin of primer, a small tin of paint, a small tin of water-based polyurethane, various nuts and bolts from Bunnings, a few packs of sanding pads and a few sheets of sandpaper. As Mario pointed out several times, we could have bought an 8 chair dining set on Gumtree for less, and yes, it would have been less work, and yes, it would have been cheaper, and yes, I would not have developed a sanding RSI, but I don’t care. It was worth it!

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