Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sawdust in the Wind

So I posted here about my craigslist table purchase, and I promised to post about my adventure refinishing it. In a timeliness that is relatively rare (as pertains to my posts, that is), I'm sharing my progress. I'm a visual learner, so let the photos begin!
Not only was the yellow-hued wood on the top of the table not my cup of tea, the color didn't match the reddish drop leaves. (Or is it leafs when you're referring to a table?--like the plural of a computer mouse is mouses, not mice...?)

So, I "splurged" on the sander with a handle (instead of the little curved rubber ones that you cup your hand over to use). It was about twice as much ($10 instead of $5), but definitely worth it! And the width happened to be perfect for the slats on the table, which was especially helpful in the areas where the slats intersect perpendicularly at the edge of each table section, since I didn't want to go against the grain and the width helped me keep the sanding controlled in the correct area. Below, I'm pretty sure that there's a conspiracy to make the sheets of sandpaper smaller than the the width of 3 sander refills--I mean, what am I going to do with the skinny one? Well, at least cutting the correct width of the sandpaper was easy to do because I kept the packaging of the sander to measure it out.
Below you can see some of the cracks that needed some attention. The one to the right of the umbrella opening was a giant splinter waiting to happen (handy for vampire defense but not much else, I suppose) and the big divot below the umbrella opening needed to get filled in and smoothed out.
First the giant splinter. I actually had some carpenter glue on hand (hooray for one less supply to buy!), but I need to clamp the splinter portion down after slopping glue all over it. I tried weighting in down, but that splinter was too stubborn, so I got creative (at least, I felt pretty resourceful) and an adjustable wrench worked like a charm! I was just lucky that it fit between the slats since it was a pretty tight squeeze.

I bought some semi-transparent outdoor wood sealant and here's one portion of the table with a fresh coat. I couldn't believe how much better it looked. I had some brushes that were the width of the slats on hand, which was great for containing the stain to go with the grain of the wood where the grain directions differed (much like lucky convenience with the sander's width).

I had to use wood filler on that divot that was front and center--and on one of the table legs that got a little love from the previous owner's furry friend. The wood filler on the table leg turned out nicely, but the filler on the tabletop was looking too obvious because it was oozing into the other slat. To fix that, I used the sandpaper as shown below and the back and forth sanding (I grabbed the edge of the sandpaper above the table and below the table) made the gap between the slats reappear. Hooray!
That center portion is almost done, huge improvement with the glue, wood filler and stain. I used a stainable wood filler, so that probably helped it blend in a little more, too.
After staining the whole table, I decided that a little added sheen would be nice (and help it survive the outdoors, even though it will be under the built out awning), so I added a coat of semi-satin polyurethane stain. Annnndddd....mission accomplished! Oooo, how pretty.
Let's just revisit where this all started...

Man, I feel accomplished!

A couple things that I would do differently:
  • Get a water-based clear coat. It was super convenient to have the water-based stain when rinsing the brush, but I definitely ruined a brush because I didn't understand it needed a good soaking in mineral spirits after a coat of the polyurethane. whoops.
  • Checked to see it the table easily came apart before painting. Yeah, I might have accidentally discovered that that the leaves could slide out easily after I had done the majority of the phases that required doing a part of the leaf or the table and then waiting for it to dry before I moved the leaf up or down to do the other portion...so taking them off to begin with would have saved some time.
  • Figured out an easier way to get the stain in between the slats earlier in the process--those little sponge brushes worked like a charm eventually!
Other than that, it was a fun project and I think the finished project looks much improved. We've used it for an outdoor dinner already, and I'll post of photo of it the next time it's all dolled-up.


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