Friday, July 17, 2015

Furniture Friday: On sanding and scraping and professional-grade finish

I learned something in October that I thought I'd share.  Ages ago, before I knew anything about refinishing furniture, my husband and I refinished our kitchen table.  Since then, I have finished only three more.  As you all know, kitchens are the hub for family activity and they take a lot of daily beatings, so they've got to be finished a little more carefully.  They won't be able to have the same kind of finish as a dresser or a side table and still withstand the daily abuse.   

While driving around, I found a beautiful circular pedestal table with three chairs, for free!  I love it when this happens because I always feel that if I haven't invested any money into it initially, I can be a little more experimental and I don't feel obligated to keep things the way they are.  For instance, if I receive something from my grandparents, it is harder for me to refinish it than if I find it on the side of the road. Or if I purchase something, I want to put less money into it and use what I have on hand to make it new.

As you can see this one was filthy and had those outdated grapes and vines stenciled around the table top.  I'm sure that there a lots of people who like the stenciled grapevines, but I wanted this to be able to work for lots of people, not just a certain genre that have their kitchens already decorated in grapes (and I'm not dogging that - my grandmother's entire kitchen had accents of grapes and grapevines and was very lovely, I just think it tailors to a few rather than the masses). 
Because this is a table top, and it get more abuse, I've discovered that it's important to take it down to the bare wood, rather than use a product like a sanding deglosser to just make the top tacky enough to get paint to stick. 
So, on went the orange smelling paint stripper, and then some elbow grease to peel those coats of polyurethane off.  
The stenciled grapevines came off without any trouble at all!  The professional coats of polyurethane...well, they took a whole lot more work!  After working again and again to get the many thin coats off, and not having it come off, I finally called a friend who explained two things: 
  1. I needed a stronger paint and stain stripper
  2. When I finish the top, if I want it to be as strong and long lasting as the original, then I would need to put on at least 3 coats of poly (but he suggested 4) and to sand it smooth with a really fine sandpaper or steel wool. 

After stripping the top, I painted the legs and chairs the same color...

And then stained the top grey.  I kinda like the grey and dark teal.  Calming.

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