Where has the time gone? I’ve ignored this blog terribly for far too long. I turned 34 over the weekend. My girls are getting so big! It is supposed to snow today, for the first time all winter, basically. The cattle are doing well, the chickens (I think) are doing well (it’s hard to count them), and we’re starting to get more eggs after their solstice sabbatical. ๐Ÿ™‚
This is a project I’ve wanted to share. I got a table last summer at a garage sale for $25 from some Mennonites. It was about 3 feet wide, and 8 feet long, homemade, and with a surface layer of formica of some kind; that plastic-ey wood-looking stuff so many tables are covered with. It only had it on the top though, so I thought I might try to ‘refinish’ it.
The underside of the top is plywood, and the legs are just 2x4s with routered edges. It had been stained with something, as you can see in the photo where I haven’t sanded below:
During the sanding stage
The top, of course, was the formica and I didn’t know what was below it. The edges of the top were soft-grain wood (like the 2x4s), maybe 1x2s. There was a groove routered along the edge of the laminate surface, and the ‘corner’ of the 1×2 wood was slightly rounded.
As it happened, the good people I bought it from delivered the table to my front yard while I was at church one evening. It sat out that night, and the next day in the sunshine that dark faux-wood really heated up. Hubby and I were able to take flat tools (paint scrapers?) and begin to separate the laminate from the table. That was quite a job; contact cement works really well. 
At that point we could see there was ‘real wood’ (not plywood) as a table surface, but it was covered in layers and bits of the rubbery contact cement. I made several phone calls to my friend (who did our countertop redo a few years back) to get expert advice, and on his recommendation I bought a cheap Random Orbit Sander.
[sidenote: Random Orbit Sander, where have you been all my life?? Over 33 years I limped along, wishing, wondering if there wasn’t an easier way to sand the many things I’ve sanded, and NO ONE told me about you! I love you!]
Following his instructions as to technique, grit coarse/fineness, etc, I managed to clean up the top of the table. I completely sanded off the sharp edge/groove at the edge of the tabletop, making a softly rounded edge to the whole thing. I realized shortly that the wood was all quite soft. Probably pine, or whatever your local lumber store stocks for building projects. One board in particular is even softer – it’s the darker-toned board in the photos below. The feet were quite banged up, so I sanded and rounded parts of them too. The top appeared to be 1- or 2×6 boards, laying lengthwise. There were a couple deep holes/gouges that had bored down through the laminate surface, but I just chalked these up to character. Once I had it sanded and cleaned of all sawdust, I used a satin finish polyurethane on the top and legs (I ignored the underside of the table). I believe the top has four coats, and the legs 2 or 3 coats.
When we returned from our October trip, and my final layer had cured for a week or two, we hauled it indoors. It’s HEAVY. And we buggered up the top somewhere along the way. :] But it’s situated in our dining room, and I LOVE it. For $25, plus about $20 in materials (not counting my New Tool which I should’ve had already) I have a table that REALLY works.
Even if I have to shout for Hubby to pass the salt…
Loooonngg table

 The dark pinkish strip is the extra-soft wood. Due to the sanding, it wore down a little quicker than the rest, so it now serves as a ‘trough’ of sorts – anything spilled tends to go along it instead of off the edge of the table. Works for me!

I love the knots and color variations

 It’s already additionally dinged-up from pencils and forks and other childhood weaponry, but as a family table, I’m not worried about it. I can always refinish it, or add another layer of polyurethane if necessary, and it’s not like I’m out $700 if it’s utterly destroyed. ๐Ÿ™‚

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