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Refurbished Penny Table

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Transform an old antique table into a lovely, new penny table.  It is sure to be the topic of discussion and the center of attention!
 
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Step 1: Things You Need

Picture of Things You Need
Things you need:
-Old table to refinish, we bought ours at a local antique mall
-Several hundred pennies, this one took about $3 worth
-Sandpaper of varying grits (60, 120, 220, 320; work your way up)
-Super glue (any will work well)
-Some type of epoxy, I used a type made for bar-tops, it was perfect
-Some type of wood stain, whatever your preference (I chose Minwax,Red Mahogany)
-Couple of brushes (Purdy brushes are great, use natural fibers for a smooth, “bubble-less” finish)
-Mineral Spirits to wipe down sanded table, as well as clean brush
-Some type of Polyurethane (I used Minwax again, with a gloss finish)
-Rubber gloves
-Paper or wax cups for mixing epoxy
-Popsicle sticks for mixing epoxy
-Various plastic sheets for easy cleanup
-Preferably a space dust-free to stain and finish
-About 3 or 4 days

Step 3: Step 2: Sanding

Step 2:
-Begin sanding down the surface of the table as well as the sides.  To begin, use a corse grit sandpaper, about 60 or 80 grit to strip the old finish/stain/paint off of the table.  It is much easier to use an electric sander, which I did not have.  This process, done by hand, takes about 6 hours to get a nice, smooth finish.  After the table is rough and the majority of it shows bare wood, use a higher grit sandpaper.  Move to about 120 or 220 and re-sand the table again.  This ensures every crack and blemish on the table is smoothed out ready for finish.  After the sanding is done with the 220 grit, clean off the excess sawdust.
-I first blew the dust off, vacuumed the table, and wiped it down with a dampened paper towel with mineral spirits.  This works well, and you MUST ensure that the table is completely clear of any and all dust particles.  Tack cloths work well also.

Step 4: Step 3: Staining

Step 3:
-Now that your table is perfectly smooth and ready to stain, gather your favorite wood stain and a nice brush.  Believe me, you get your moneys worth for a good brush.  Like I said, Purdy makes real nice, natural bristle brushes for about $10-$20 a piece.  By the way, you can find all of these supplies at your local hardware store, (Lowes, Home Depot, Ace, Harbor Freight, etc.)
-Go to a well-ventilated area and follow the instructions on the can of stain.  Apply thin, even coats, taking your time.  Be sure to wait for each coat to fully dry before you move onto the next.  This was frustrating for me because I had to wait a good 2 days to finish staining.  I wanted to hurry and get the table done, therefore I started to stain and sand before the original layers were finished drying and it ruined a lot of sand paper by “gumming up” on it.  It was a disaster, so I had to re-sand the entire thing from step 1 the next day, putting my project behind even more.  SO, ALWAYS WAIT UNTIL THE STAIN FULLY DRIES BEFORE MOVING ON!
-Stain at least 2-3 layers to get a nice, even coat.

Step 5: Step 4: Applying Polyurethane

Step 4:
-Now that your table is nice and stained, and dried, it’s time to lightly sand again.  This time you are going to use the very fine grit, 320 sandpaper.  This step is optional but I wanted a glass-like finish when I was done, so I made sure my table was smooth.  Using this grit will not take off the finish as long as you have a couple of layers and do it very lightly to get the bubbles/dust particles out.
-You will notice a huge difference by doing this light sanding.  After you are done, brush the dust off, vacuum, and use a VERY LITTLE BIT of mineral spirits on a paper towel again.  If you use too much mineral spirit, it will take the stain off the wood. 
-Now time for the polyurethane coatings.  This takes a lot of time, the longest part of your project by far.
-I started to use a spray on polyurethane coating, and quickly found out it did not look good at all.  It was not thick and did not achieve that perfect, glass-like finish I wanted.  So I re-sanded again, and bought Minwax brush on.  This works a million times better.  Take your time with this, you want it to look good.  Use a natural brush and put on light, even coats of polyurethane.  Let each layer dry before the next, about 2-4 hours.  I liked to lightly sand between the first and second layer, just to ensure the bubbles were all gone.  On the third layer, take your time and you should have a lovely finish. 
-Keep in mind, the polyurethane makes a very shiny finish.  There are different brands of polyurethane which have gloss, semi-gloss, and satin finishes.  It’s your preference. 
-Let the table dry completely before gluing the pennies on

Step 6: Step 5: Attach Pennies!

This step takes a long time!  About 3 hours of constant gluing for me.

Step 5:
-Pick out your pennies to use on the table
-You can shine then up with a tarnish remover if you like, or whatever you think looks the best
-Arrange the pennies on the table but don’t glue them
-Now, for this part, I made a make-shift tool to pick up each penny and superglue it one by one.  Just use a pen with a coin taped to the end of it.  Duct tape works well, or you can use tweezers, whatever.  Use something to glue each penny down, it should make sense what I’m talking about by looking at the pictures.

Step 7: Step 6: Epoxy

This is the "funnest" part of the whole project.

Step 6:
-When the pennies are all glued on, it’s time to put on the bar top epoxy.
-Follow the instructions on the package and do accordingly.  For mine, I had two separate containers of Resin and Hardener.  I had to mix EXACTLY the same amounts of each for about two minutes with a popsicle stick.  This ensured the compound was evenly mixed for prime drying and finish.  This part is kind of fun to do, but after the epoxy is mixed, pour it over the pennies.  Make sure you are on a flat surface so the epoxy doesn’t dry crooked.  Take the popsicle stick, or plastic putty knives, and spread the epoxy evenly across the surface of all the pennies.  You should be able to get away with one layer, but if you have to do more, follow the package instructions. 
-Let the epoxy completely dry for about 72 hours.  This will give it time to harden and cure before use.  DO NOT TOUCH THE EPOXY!  I did, and it left a dent/ripple in one of the corners of the table, of course it’s not very noticeable, but frustrating!

Step 8: Caring for Your New Table

Picture of Caring for Your New Table
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Care for your penny table:
-You can use regular wood polisher on the entire table to keep a nice sheen.  For the epoxy part, you can even use a high-quality wax and soft rag.  You can go as far as waxing the top part of the table to keep it shiny and somewhat protected from coasters/water.
-Depending on where your table is (kitchen, living room, bedroom, etc.) depends on how much it will be used.  Determine how often it will get used and that will help determine how much polyurethane coatings you will need.  Less frequent areas can use 1-2 coats, and more frequent use, I would put on either 3 or 4 coats just to be safe.  To some this may be over-kill, but it will protect your nicely finished table.
modsquad9 months ago
Table looks nice. I have been wanting to do this with beer caps to make some outdoor tables and have a variety of different craft beer caps I enjoy all lined up in rows. I just wasn't sure of what epoxy coating but your instructable helped me know what to ask/shop for!
HickLife1 year ago
I have this exact idea, except with the primer side of an expended pistol casing or rifle casing just cut down to a uniform length. Thanks for the post it gave me a lot of ideas on what to do for my project when i get to it. quick question tough, did you fill the table to the top lip or just enough to cover the pennies and a little over to smooth it? it looks like you just put it a little over the pennies but i cant tell for sure.
nabind (author)  HickLife1 year ago
Thanks for the comment. That sounds like a great idea using the primers of various casings. As far as the epoxy goes, I only used enough to cover the top of the pennies. You could fill it up to the lip of the table, but that seemed excessive to me. It is pretty strong stuff and you will have no problems simply filling it up to just cover the primers. Hopefully you can post a finished product someday - that would be neat to see.
hopefully i can get it made soon, i just need to collect the brass and cut it down them pick/make the table. i have to wait till i get back to the states though to begin on it. 5 more months
shazni1 year ago
Is it called bar top epoxy all over the world? i would like to do this only the epoxy i know is not liquid...it's like a paste and is used to glue glass, metal and so on.
nabind (author)  shazni1 year ago
I'm not sure what other countries would call it. I did use a liquid type epoxy which I had two mix two separate components; a resin, and a hardener. Here is he website to the epoxy I used:

http://glazecoat.com/GlazeCoat.htm

Thank you for the comment and good luck!
Cambenora1 year ago
Was it really necessary to glue all the coins down first? They'd be well and truly stuck down with the epoxy.
This eliminates the chance of them getting moved when pouring on the epoxy, It's a pretty viscous liquid and can move them around quite a bit.
nabind (author)  reedz1 year ago
Thanks for the comment. Yes, and also without gluing the pennies down, they may have a tendency to float to the top of the epoxy before it hardens completely. Thank you reedz.
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