Ever thought about refinishing, restoring or re-purposing an old piece of furniture? If so, this Instructable may help you.
This is my first ever Instructable Writing. I have always been into the DIY scene and I have re-finished some furniture from time to time. So, I thought this project from August 2018 would be a good one to share and enter into the Fix It! Contest. A few of your votes may encourage me to produce more similar to this.
If you try this yourself, good luck and please share your experience!
Step 1: Not Much to Look At, But Has "Good Bones".
And, it was free for the taking! Acquired it from a friend of a friend who was about to throw it into a dumpster.
Not sure what it's original purpose was, (maybe a plant stand?) but appears to be a piece from the 1940's or 50's? Probably that era's version of Ready-To-Assemble furniture, as it was cheaply made from bits of non-specific hardwoods that were bolted, nailed and screwed together. Obviously it had served someone for many years as evident from the wear, dirt and multiple layers of paint over it's original finish.
To me, this style of table was never attractive and this particular piece was ugly through it's core. But, because I had an idea in mind, the time, materials and tools, I decided to make it useful once again.
Step 2: Tools and Materials Used.
This project didn't really cost me any cash "out of pocket" because I already had what I needed on hand. If I had to purchase these things just for this job, it would have been a losing proposition. The tools and materials required are substantial and the table is not worth what they would cost if you had to buy them for this project alone. Here is what I used to complete this restoration:
1. Screwdrivers (flat-head and Philips)
2. Small adjustable wrench
3. Putty knife
4. Scrapers and picks
5. Drill bits
6. Work table
7. Drop cloth
8. Rubber Gloves
9. Respirator/dust mask
10. Safety Glasses
11. Sandpaper assortment
12. Disposable paint brush
13. Quality synthetic paint brush
14. Kreg jig and screws
15. Chop saw
16. Duct tape
17. Paint stripper
20. Gel stain
21. Satin clear top coat finish
Step 3: Disassemble
This was the easy part. Quickly came apart by removing a few screws that held the top and unbolting the legs from the half-lapped base.
Step 4: Downsizing.
The original height is about 30 inches. My idea is to re-purpose this piece to make it shorter for use as a chair side table. Legs were squared up, securely duct taped together and cut off with one stroke of the chop saw. This modification will revise the overall height to about 24 inches.
Step 5: Strip, Scrape, Brush, Remove, Rinse and Repeat. Then Sand, Sand, Sand...
Now comes the not so fun step, but totally necessary. Working with paint stripper, chemicals and other solvents can be dangerous, not to mention downright messy. Read, understand and follow the instructions that are provided with any of these kind of products, then proceed at your own risk.
The weather allowed me to stage a work area outdoors. In a space shaded from direct sunlight, a drop cloth was placed on the ground where a covered work table was placed upon it. Dressed in old clothes, a respirator and rubber gloves the components to be stripped were arranged on the work table. Starting with the top, then the base and finally each of the four legs, work began with the process of stripping until all the gunky layers of paint were removed to reveal surfaces that could only then be further cleaned through means of the sanding process.
Disposable brushes (can you say "Harbor Freight") were used to apply the paint stripper. As the stripper works, the old paint will wrinkle, curl and bubble. This indicates it is ready for removal and may be scraped off into a proper metal container, i.e. old soup can. The type of stripper used for this project could be re-used as long as it remained in a liquid/paste like state.
After stripping, the turned portions of the legs required a lot of work. Picks (like the kind the dentist uses to scrape your teeth) had to be used to clean the dried gunk out of the grooves and crevices. Again, not fun but necessary. Only after all the debris had been removed could the parts be sanded with 180 grit sandpaper.
The clean-up process is important. Again read the directions for the products you use for proper disposal.
Step 6: Prime Time.
Satisfied that the components were stripped, sanded and cleaned to the best of my ability, now turning the corner of the process and headed towards finishing.
Each piece (except the top) was given one coat of Kilz primer. This serves a couple of purposes, each equally important.
1. The primer seals the surface which offers a barrier between the raw/sanded/stripped wood and the fresh paint you will apply in a future step. This is also to prevent compatibility issues between the old and new finishes.
2. The primer coat offers adhesion and better coverage of the fresh paint.
After primer coat has dried, everything is scuffed with 220 grit sandpaper and the sanding dust is removed. Now ready for fresh paint.
Step 7: With a Bit of Cherry on Top...
After the stripping and sanding process, the top was still in rough shape. Still present were a lot of little pits and depressions where paint and old finish remained. The cherry gel stain did a good job for the most part but did not cover the paint that was hiding in the low spots. Touch up pens (colored sharpie type markers) were used to cover those places.
To warm the color of the cherry stain, a couple drops of golden brown dye was added to a mixture of thinned shellac and applied. This is not a show piece or a fine collectible, but the color turned out well enough for me.
Step 8: Into the Paint.
Rounding third and headed for home. After staining the top, attention now turns towards finishing what's left. The base, legs and top bracing were given two coats of semi-gloss white followed by a light scuffing of 220 grit and top coated with a coat of satin waterbased clear poly.
No pictures of this step, but the photos of the completed project illustrates the results of this effort.
Step 9: Additional Support Required.
The "L" brackets that were previously used to fasten the legs to the top were less than adequate. The table, as it was, seemed top-heavy and was very wobbly. An upgrade was in order, so I fabricated a brace consisting of two pieces of half-lapped pine wood that were cut to match the legs. A Kreg jig and screws were used to join the brace to each leg. Then the top was attached to the bracing with wood screws from underneath.
Mission accomplished! No more wobble and the table is rock steady.
Step 10: Complete and Ready for (re) Use!
After typing the information for the Steps taken to accomplish this Instructable, it seemed like a lot more work than it really was. Don't get me wrong, it does require some effort, some time and at some point, a bit of expense. But if you enjoy a challenge and appreciate the satisfaction that a well completed project offers, that may be reward enough. It is for me.
As stated before, this is not a show piece. Nor is it a collectible. It was never intended to be. What it is, is a fun project that allowed something that was headed for a landfill to become something that will serve me and possibly others for time to come.