Finished product first. This was my first time working with any kind of wood or stain so it was a bit of a learning curve but I really enjoyed the process. (Even if it was a pain in the ass and took me forever). I'm extremely happy with it and hope to pass it down to my kids!
I found this table at a yard sale for $10 and always wanted to refinish it somehow. The fateful day that I spilled acetone on it and ruined the finish set the project in motion. I used paint stripper, an electric sander, spray paint, paint brushes, rags, Minwax red mahogany stain, Bullseye clear shellac, and satin Polycrylic to finish.
Technically it took me a year to finish – though my procrastination, a move, and a million other projects got in the way of the timeline. I started in September 2015. The staining alone took me 9 months and then I got a coat of shellac on it before the move to make sure it was protected. I didn't end up getting the rest of the shellac/polycrylic on until last week because I'm busy and also lazy.
I took this photo at the Botanical Gardens in Chicago. After seeing some beautiful stained flower tables and watching some videos on YouTube, I decided to give this one a shot. Note: if you choose to do this, pick a *much* less detailed photo unless you plan on devoting a year of your life to it.
I always forget to take an actual before picture. This was after I had stripped and sanded the middle and the two leaves still have the original finish.
Right to left: original finish, stripped/sanded, stripped.
Soooo good. r/ThatPeelingFeeling
I was pretty sure that it was solid wood because of these finger joints and I saw no seams that would indicate a veneer…
… and then I sanded through to this nonsense. This was the only board that did this though and I couldn't find any evidence of a veneer so I'm still not sure what to make of it. Thankfully it covered up just fine with the dark stain.
After much paint stripper and sanding, the top is ready to be stained. I used an electric sander with 80/120/220 grit paper. A little went a long way and too much pressure created ridges in the wood. Most of the time spent sanding was fixing my mistakes of pressing too hard or spending too much time in one spot. I also gave it a quick once-over with a 320 grit block so it was as smooth as possible and I could blend the stain well.
I can be too much of a perfectionist and decided to refinish the paint on the legs too. I immediately regretted this decision… a light sand and a few new coats of paint would have been fine.
Also should have used a drop cloth when stripping off the paint. This shit turns to goo and sticks to everything… this was as clean as I could get my porch.
It will also ruin your shoes.
Coat one of three – white Krylon spray paint.
Two coats of Rustoleum semi-gloss clear coat spray paint. I wanted this thing to last forever. (I still feel like it needs more protection).
Ready to be stained! I thought this would take me a week, tops. HA! Nope.
Lightly sketched the picture with a mechanical pencil. Light lines are best but not too light; I found they eventually rubbed away over time while I worked on the staining. I lost a few petals because I lost track of my lines and had to re-configure the drawing.
Starting at the middle! I would recommend doing a practice piece on scrap to get the hang of blending and getting sharp lines. The stain is meant to sink into the pores and wanted to bleed so controlling that was a learning curve.
Unfortunately I didn't get a picture of the tools I used but you can kind of see my set-up in some later pictures. I used a rag and q-tips for blending (though the q-tips didn't work really well, they just helped with the smaller petals where a rag was too bulky). I also used a couple of very small paint brushes. A tapered one with a fine point for line work/petal creases and one with a flat edge to make nice crisp edges. A little goes a *LONG* way. Often I would have to dip my paint brush and then basically blot most of it off to get the light shadows. Once you make something too dark there's no going back.
I found that making the dark background first was easiest when I got to the edges because the shading on the tips of the petals was so light. Also, here I found out that trying to continue the lines/shading over the edges of the leaves was a total pain. I would highly recommend getting a solid topped table if you plan to do this…
Coming along! I may have taken too many progress pictures…
You can see my mess of cut up towels and paint brushes on the chair to the left. This is what my kitchen looked like for about 8 months… don't do this to the only table you own or get used to eating in the living room.
I started working in the living room while watching Netflix… productivity slowed drastically.
At this point I was so burnt out on this project. The amount I had left to do was hard to look at and I didn't feel motivated to work on it for a few months. Cutting down the middle broke up such a large blank space and made my brain feel better about how much was left.
Warning… your technique will change over the course of 9 months. My shading started to get heavier and more contrasted which I wasn't super happy with but I guess I was so ready to be done with it that I wasn't spending as much time on the fine details of each petal. I guess it shows the evolution of my skill though… maybe?
At this point I got such a rush of motivation seeing it so close to being done that I knocked the rest out in about 2 weeks.
So happy I almost cried. Much wine was has this night in celebration.
I did a lot of research on the finish I should use. I'm glad I did because it turns out that red mahogany stain can bleed and smear if you use the wrong finish. I think I would have rage quit and burnt the thing to the ground if that happened.
I ended up using 2 coats of shellac and then 3 coats of polycrylic to keep the shellac from yellowing over time (lightly sanding between coats with 220 grit sandpaper).
Pretty darn happy with it!
Project manager approves.