dil·i·gence:careful and persistent work or effort

Proverbs 13: 4 The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

$25 Goodwill table redo

I cannot tell you how happy I am to be posting this.  This table has been the most frustrating AND the most rewarding project to date.  Last winter during one of my frequent stops into our local Goodwill, I found this beauty:

A beautiful, sturdy, all wood antique (looking) pedestal table.  No, I wasn't looking for a new dining table (we already had 2 dining areas and 2 dining tables), but that didn't keep me from giving the table a good once over.  And, when I determined her to be in good structural condition, I sent out to find the little scrap of masking tape that I knew would have her asking price scribbled on it.  When I found it, I couldn't believe my eyes:  $25.  $25!!!  She was coming home with me, that was certain.  Immediately, I determined we were in desperate need of a game table in the basement.  And, we did use her down there for a good long time.

But then (as I do all too often to Colin's dismay), I initiated a weekend round of Musical Furniture, and our rectangular kitchen table moved to my office/craft room, and this gal moved into the kitchen.
See how cute she looked with the mismatched coffee sack covered thrift chairs and everything?  I was happy and she was happy until this happened:

See that large cloudy white area?  That's what you get when you put a hot pot on a wet cloth on top of a wooden table.  I tried everything to get it out.  I tried wood cleaner, wood conditioner, some trick with toothpaste, and finally a light sanding and touch up pen.  But, I decided the only real option was to give her a make over.

That's when I got nervous.  I've never stained a piece of wood before.  I've never stripped a piece of wood before.  Heck, I've never even sanded something like this down before!  My first phone call was to Dad because Dad is to DIY/home repairs as Mom is to sewing, and I've already expressed how good my mom is at sewing.  So, he talked me through the steps and even lended me his belt and orbital sanders.

So, one Saturday morning I was feeling ready to tackle the project and after 45 minutes of sanding, this is what I had:

Not a whole lot of progress.  And, all I kept thinking was, "Is this supposed to look this awful!?"

Plus, I was working alone doing something I had never done before, not knowing if I was going down the right path or destroying the table.  Even with the every 5 minute random googling of  'how to sand table' or 'how awful will it look' I didn't have much confidence.

And, then there is the issue with not knowing how to change the sand paper on the belt sander, but I won't bore you with those details.  Thankfully, my parents were due to be in town the very next day, and my dad provided me with me the moral support I needed.  We worked on it that night, and by bedtime, this is what we had.
 And then, the next day he continued to work on the table most of the day while I was at work.  By the time I got home, the table was totally sanded and ready for just its final once over.  At that point, I moved this project to the basement where I primed and painted the base and apron a crisp white.

Then, it was time for stain.  After only one coat of MinWax oil based stain in Jacobean, I was thrilled with the results.

 So, this is where the project got a little hairy.  I had moved the table upstairs so that I could ensure that the stain was evenly applied (it was) and add a protective finish.  I already had MinWax Polycrylic in semi-gloss on hand, so I decided to use that, knowing that I would need a half dozen or so coats before I would achieve the durable finish I was after.  The first coat went on swimmingly.  I allowed that to dry and sanded lightly with 220 grit sand paper (as per the instructions on the can).  Then, I applied a second coat.  I noticed immediately that it was going on with lots of streaks, but I figured it would level as it dried.  No such luck.  The streaks were permanent, and I've since read that this is common with water based poly.  It dries too quickly and doesn't have a chance to level.  Not to be deterred, I sanded again and tried another coat, but this one I applied with an old sock (instead of a synthetic paint brush as the can suggests).  This coat went on much better, but I am still not 100% sold on the finish.  At this point, I'm calling this project done-ish.  Monday morning, I will call the 800 number on the MinWax can and ask them for suggestions.  I have some ideas to try, but I want to see what they have to say for themselves (!!).  I have a feeling I will need to re-sand and finish with an oil based poly, but we'll see.

So, without further ado, I present to you the "finished" table!

Let's have a quick look back, shall we?  Then:

And, now:



PS- I will update this post with whatever I hear from the folks at MinWax.

**linking to the girls at



  1. Wow wow wow! It was so worth every bit of effort! Beautiful!

  2. I read your whole story! What an adventure it is when we jump into something new, isn't it? Thank Goodness for wonderful Dads! I love the looks of it now but it will be interesting to see what the Minwax folks have to say~ xo Diana

  3. The table looks awesome! Can't wait to see it in person! (This weekend with my five younguns will be a true test of the durability of the finish!!)

    Amy & Crew

  4. OH I love this!!! It's what I want to do to my table. It's so pretty!!!!

  5. It looks amazing! Great job! I'm your newest follower!

  6. Well first of all - great story! I often find that frustrating and rewarding go hand-in-hand. And I love playing musical furniture too. Boys don't usually seem to enjoy it quite as much! Now for your table - it's amazing! I love the contrast of the stain and paint. Look how those legs pop now! And it looks so cute with those cool chairs too. I'm so glad you were persistent. It was definitely worth it. And how lucky to have a handy and helpful dad. I love your family! Nicely done Emily! thanks for sharing!