Introduction: Breathe Life Into an Old Drop Leaf Table
Thanks for reading my Instructable! So I recently moved into a new apartment and was in need of some furniture. While I had the table already, I wanted to give it a fresh start for the new location. In order to do that, I wanted to take the table down to the bare wood, give the table a fresh finish and seal it up with a clear coat to protect it. The table was also a bit damaged and one to the two drop leaves needs a new support piece. If you have a project or some other piece of wooden furniture that could use some TLC, please read on!
Step 1: Required Materials
For this project, you will need some basic materials. You can swap some out for power tools in order to expedite the process.
- Wooden furniture in need of repairs
- Sandpaper (course grit recommended for removing old stain/paint. I used 80 grit)
- Palm sander (optional)
- Belt sander (optional)
- Dremel tool (optional)
- Foam brushes
- Polyurethane/ Clear coat
- Screwdriver/ Drill
Depending on how rough your piece is looking, you may need some additional materials to complete this project. The table I was restoring needed some new pieces to support one of the drop leafs. For the repairs I needed some wood for the replacement support and brackets, a saw to cut them to the correct size, wood glue, paint, and screws.
Step 2: Sanding...Part One
Jumping right into the project, I wanted to remove the old finish that was on the table. At some point in time, several spots on the table got paint on it. I also wanted to remove that before attempting to refinish the table so I wouldn't have strange markings under the new layer of stain. I began sanding the top of the table with the palm sander and the edge with the dremel tool with a sanding drum. Early on I realized that sanding it while it was still assembled was going to be more trouble than its worth. Taking the table apart would make the process much easier.
Step 3: Disassemble the Table
Once I decided to take the table apart, It was a matter of removing the screws from the table legs to remove the top. The top was only being held on by six screws as the rest had either fallen out or were never screwed back in. The table column was held together by two long bolts and wooden pins embedded in the pieces. I also took the drop leaf portions off of the main table top and removed the hinges. They were rusty and in pretty rough shape and I set them aside for later. All tables will vary, so if you are following this insctructable, my only advice is if its got a screw, take it out.
Step 4: Sanding...Part Two
Since this was an older table with some dents and scrapes (for me character) I wanted to be fairly careful and maintain some of these blemishes. I knew that the stain would really bring some of these out and create a slightly destressed look. Depending on how aggressive you are with your sanding, you can create a similar effect if you are a bit gentler with your tools. If you don't want that and would prefer a cleaner look, keep sanding until the defects are removed. At this point in time, I was able to get my hands on some sanding power tools. Now if you don't have access to them, you can use good old elbow grease and sand it by hand but a belt sander or a palm sander will make your life much easier. Overall, the belt sander cut my sanding time by about half. Which was good since I was getting excited to get staining.
Step 5: Repairs
Because of the age of the table, it had gotten some wear and tear on it and was in need of some repairs. One of the sliding supports and the wooden brackets had broken off and needed to be replaced. Since I had the bracket and slider removed already, I just used them to size the replacement accordingly. I wasn't overly concerned that the wood was different as the parts are all hidden from view. Once they had been cut to size, I glued them together to form the brackets and quickly sanded them to remove any sharp edges. They would be glued to the underside of the main table top. As I mentioned earlier, the hinges were rusty and looked pretty sad. I sanded off the corrosion with my dremel tool. If you have rusty parts, soaking them in vinegar breaks down the rust pretty good too. I threw a quick coat of spray paint on them to prevent future rusting.
Step 6: Staining
Now in my experience, I have seen several methods for putting applying stain. Some like to brush it on thinly, some wipe it on with rags, some (like myself) brush it on thick and wipe away the excess. However you do, make sure that your pieces are clean of any sawdust for best results. As mentioned above, I like to brush the stain thick and allow it to set on the wood for a couple of minutes. This allows the stain to saturate into the wood and really helps to show the beauty that is in the grain and blemishes in the wood. After it sets, wipe away the excess with some paper towels. Once all the wood has been stained, let it dry overnight. Depending on how dark you want the stain, you may want to apply a second coat.
Step 7: Clear Coat
Since this is the the kitchen table, I wanted to use a clear coat to protect the stain and wood from water or anything that might get spilled on it in the future. This step is pretty simple, just brush on the polyurethane evenly and make sure that you don't miss anything, you will be able to tell from the difference! Not only does the clear coat protect your work it also gives it a nice sheen look.
Step 8: Reassemble
For this step, just remember what you did to take it apart and just do it exactly like that...but backwards.
Step 9: Finished!
Now that you have gotten the piece back together, enjoy your handiwork!!! Photos show before and after the project. Thanks for reading!