Thursday, April 7, 2011

Coffee Table Gets a Facelift

I found this FANTASTIC coffee table on good 'ol Craigslist for $40! The price was right, the shape was perfect, all I had to do was haul the 50-pound, unwieldy thing from SF to myself. And oy, this was before Boyfriend moved in.

The relocation of this thing proved to be a very painful, very strenuous process. It still makes me cringe just thinking about it. In summary: small Asian woman, her blind roommate and I attempt to carry the thing to my car while her toddler son stands by and cries. Very large black neighbor asks me to hold his pit bull while he shoulders the entire thing by himself and carries it effortlessly to my (might-be-too-small, I suddenly realize) car. Fit the table into the car only after rolling the windows down to allow the legs to stick out (poor car receives scratches and dents). Once home, I attempt to get the thing out of my car and wheel it up to my place, solo, incurring many scratches, bruises, and possibly some type of psychological trauma that has yet to surface (I'm guessing it will be a fear of dolly carts and bungee cables).

BUT without further ado, here it is:

Sadly it came in less-than-perfect condition. The wood was a weird color and completely lackluster and there were lots of scratches in the table, much like a child had scribbled on it with a pen....
But it was only $40, and that's a great price for good bones!

A serious makeover was in order. The table would have to be taken apart and the finish stripped away. I used a gel-like varnish remover and covered it in seran-wrap to keep it from drying out (this all took place on my very cold balcony...also, I do NOT recommend doing this on a balcony).

Notice that I forgot the very important step of taking the table apart. :(  I ended up getting some remover on the metal legs, which had been finished with some sort of matte coating to make it look like brushed metal. Underneath was a shiny metal that looked pretty sweet, but that meant another piece to add to the two wood pieces already on the list.

Once I scraped away the varnish and remover, I cleaned up any remaining goop and went to work on the rest of the stain with an electric sander (thank you Nick!). This was probably the most taxing part of the project in terms of messiness, physical effort and um, the neighbors' peace and quiet. Seriously for about three Sundays in a row I was outside for several hours sanding away (Sunday, because the apt. office is closed and no one can complain about me :D).

And remember, I did all that sanding for TWO pieces. Working with an electric sander does strange things to the nerves in your hand. After a while, they start to have that tingly feeling like when your hand is coming out of numbness, but it lasts for a really long time. Probably not natural.

Once the wood pieces were finally stripped down to their beautiful bare selves, it was time to apply a new finish. It was also time to raid Teako's old sock stash.

I'm a big, big fan of bringing out the natural color of a good piece of wood rather than using a stain, so for this guy I used a clear, glossy Polyurethane.

This is what it looked like after the first coat. You can already see the natural luster of the wood coming out beautifully.

I did five coats for the top piece and three coats for the bottom. I also stripped away the rest of the matte finish on the metal frame. Once I finally put it all together (about 2 months after starting the whole project), it was lovely.

I'm totally in love with this table, and even more-so because I feel like all the sweat and tears I put into it really made it mine. And to all you obsessive coaster people...I get it now.

The DIY Show Off

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