IT'S DONE!!! This table is the second piece of furniture I have purchased off of Craigslist and I purchased it for $25. I bought it because of all the beautiful refinished tables I have seen and thought this would be a great practice piece. The table was actually a solid oak table, not veneer and was in good shape. I know nothing about refinishing furniture but there is so much information on the Internet that I got to work searching out ideas. I of course looked at Miss Mustard Seed's information on table stripping and refinishing. I also found Lauren's blog First Comes Love where she refinished a table and I used the stripper she used. I knew exactly how I wanted to finish this table, dark stained top and creamy white pedestal. There is no shortage of inspiration for this look. I went out and bought a little palm sander (I have since decided to look for a more macho sander), Citristrip Varnish remover, gloves, mask, different courses of sand paper and wood stain. I noticed that many people use Minwax Dark Walnut stain so naturally I purchased this. Things started out really well and the Citristrip seemed to really work.
Once the table was stripped I sanded the table smooth and I got out the wood stain. I started to apply the stain with a rag but I didn't do it exactly right. As I was applying the stain I was also wiping it off vs. applying it liberally, letting it sit, and then wiping it off. Either way it looked good. The next day I went back and applied the second coat as per the directions, leaving it sit over night. This is where things went wrong. I wish I would have saved the pictures I had taken to show you but basically the table wasn't looking so great. First I could see variations in the way the stain was taking and I could see sanding marks. Not scratches but the marks from the sander itself. Then to make matter's worse the stain was weeping out of the chevron's in the grain. All over the table it looked like I had taken a spray bottle and sprayed stain all over the table. What?? I wiped it away, went on-line to figure this out, and found some instructions on Minwax to use a clean bristle brush with mineral spirits and scrub up the stain. I can't find the link now but that is what I did. I waited a few more days and it still seemed to still be doing this, not as much though. To top that off I was disappointed in the the color. It seemed dull to me, not the rich look that I had seen on other's projects and the end grain (the lip of the table top) was so much darker. Now what? I decided to take the leaf from the table to Rockler a woodshop hardware store. They were very helpful and when I told them which stain I was using 2 people on 2 different days said it wasn't a good stain. I said that can't be, everyone uses it and they said it was a well advertised. They directed me to use General Finishes Gel Stain and although this is my first time ever re-staining a table and I am no expert, this stain was a huge difference right from the get go!! It was amazing, but before I could see just how amazing it was I had to sand so much.. so tiring. Finally the reward of applying stain. I applied the stain with a rag and it went on so smooth like butter and wiped off just as smooth. The first coat wasn't enough and so I ended up applying 3 coats of the Java color, but I knew with the first few swipes of Java that this was a rich, beautiful color. Once the table was stained I had my husband unscrew the table top so that I could paint the pedestal base. I used Annie Sloan Old White Chalk Paint. Of course if you have read my blog, NOTHING goes smoothly for me. The first coat dried and I was able to see various small cracks in the pedestal (nothing that hurts the stability) so I went back with wood filler. I also was able to see little dots of bleed through from the pedestal underneath.. seriously!! Now if your are reading this and aren't familiar with Annie Sloan Chalk Paint then you should know it is fabulous!! What makes it so? No sanding, no priming, just grab your brush and go. It covers over everything but occasionally there will be a bleed through and well if it is to be, then it would be so with me. I went back and sanded in those areas, repainted, only to see the bleed though again. I then went in with some clear wax, waxed, repainted, and the result was only a small area still showed through. I finished the table with a few more coats, waxed, distressed, dark waxed, and finished!!
Well not quite, I still needed to apply the top coat on the table top. If this post seems like forever, it is because this table feels like it took forever! When reading other blogs you see the transformations but not the many hours behind those transformations.
For my top coat I used Polyurethane Gel Wipe-on Satin Clear Coat purchased at Rockler and I have applied 5 coats. This is a very helpful instruction that I found on how to apply wipe-on poly. Read it if you plan on using wipe-on.
I finished that last coat last night and will apply a clear wax in a few weeks for added protection. I will have recap at the end of this post but first enjoy the beauty shots.
Here is a recap of what I have learned and maybe it will help you with your project:
- It is very important to make sure the previous varnish is completely removed. It may look and feel as though it is but make certain.
- Clean the table thoroughly with Mineral Spirits using a stripping pad or fine steel wool to remove any remnants from the stripper.
- Sand, Sand, and Sand some more. I was working with a solid oak table and didn't have to worry about a veneer. Please keep that in mind when working with a veneer top. I used 80 grit, 100 grit, 120 grit, 150 grit, and finally 180 grit.
- On the last sanding (min was with 180 grit) sand by hand using a sanding block. This will sand away the various palm sander marks.
- Clean away all the sanding dust with a tack cloth, I also went back in with a cloth slightly dampened with mineral spirits.
- Seal the end grain of the table, this will always stain darker. I used the Polyurethane gel on recommendation from the guys at Rockler. I wiped it on the lip end of the table and let it dry. it prevented it from getting too dark when the stain was applied and the table top matches perfectly.
- Read directions, and read them again. With everything I read, when I went back to double check the instructions I caught something different.
- I strongly suggest reading the link above on the technique to applying the varnish.
- Cut the paint with water. I didn't do this with this project or my chair and the can of paint went very quickly. I did this with my secretary and got beautiful coverage using less paint. It may take a few more coats but it is still using less paint. This stuff is expensive and it is awesome it can be stretched with water.
- Clean older pieces more then a dusting. Older stains can seep through. I used paint thinner when cleaning my secretary and this was a much older piece. There was no bleed through. If I had done this with the table maybe the bleed through wouldn't have happen or maybe it would have.
Misc. Bullet Points:
- Just because it worked for everyone else doesn't mean it is meant to work for you.
- It will take longer to complete your project then it was to read this post, I know hard to believe!
- And Lastly, enjoy yourself. It might be frustrating and you might discover you have super hero strength when you pick up your project and heave it across the room but the end result can be very rewarding as is my brand new table.
Thank you so much for stopping by!