Saturday, July 31, 2010

Love a good garage sale!

I rolled my family out of bed bright and early with a bag full of pop tarts and pushed them straight into the van to go find awesome at garage sales. At first...nothin'. We only saw a few sales and they didn't have anything really very good. Then, as usually happens, we called it for the day and then saw one more sign. It was placed oddly so it was hard to find the garage, but when I spotted it, I knew I was going to be IN HEAVEN! The garage was PACKED with end tables, side tables, serving tables, dining tables, dishes, vases, and chairs...and I would have bought every single thing if I could have afforded it. Most was in beautiful shape, and vintage lines and build. Unfortunately, I couldn't, so I restrained myself to 4 items. It took me a good while to really decide which to get.

Ever since seeing this post from Memoirs of the Shoe Obsessed, I've been pining for a telephone table. Not that I want to do exactly that, but because it was such an awesome transformation, and telephone tables aren't something you see everyday. So you know this was the first one I grabbed...
Even the upholstery is in really great shape, but just a bit too dated. I'm going to check my stash to see what I can find that's fun, then decide on paint.

Then this one...I love the curved legs and scalloped apron...I'm seeing a little girl's room paint job.

Then this...She started refinishing it, so the topcoat is bubbly from the stripper, but other then that, it's really in great shape...sturdy, drop leaves work great...I usually don't buy a piece without a clear vision or idea for it, but it was such a unique piece, I couldn't leave it behind.


Did you notice this bowl? It just seemed so interesting and unique to me, that I had to have it. The glass is that 70's green stuff that usually just looks tacky, but I just feel in love with this one. I don't know if it's the shape or what, but I snatched it up!

One thing, was that this garage sale, being hard to see, didn't look real well attended. I asked what she would be doing with the stuff unsold and if I could call to see if she still had stuff in a few weeks when my budget allowed for it...she said that she does one every couple weeks. You know I'm going to be going back! There were a couple items that I had a VERY hard time walking away without.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The story of a refinished table (part 2 - stain)

Wow, part two took a long time. It's been very HOT here, so I've only been able to work very early in the morning...turning one day's worth of work into several. So let's jump in. I left you with a damp table waiting for grain to raise....
After about an hour, if you run your hand over the surface you will feel how bumpy it is. Use 220 grit sandpaper to smooth it. This is usually a pretty quick process and I use my hand to feel for bumps as I go to make sure I get the whole thing. Wipe it with a cloth and then a tack cloth to make sure you get ALL the dust off.

I'm working with this water based stain in walnut, and I'm starting with the idea that this top cannot get too dark. I haven't worked with a normal stain for a long time, but I know most of the directions say to spread it on, let it sit, then wipe it off. This one says that too, but that method doesn't work very well because it soaks into the wood so fast. Plus it dries so fast that it's hard to use that method and get an even color. (at least for me...some people may be more talented...but I'm going to tell you how I found to work well with this stuff).

Start by applying liberally, then you kindof buff it in. Try to use really long smooth strokes with your rag, and when you get streaks or blotches, rub them out as soon as you see them(sometimes it takes a good bit of elbow grease). If they are being stubborn, try putting more stain on it, buff out the blotch, then rub it out smooth. This stuff dries fast, and you can probably do a second coat after it sits for an hour or so, but don't let your blotches sit. They won't come out...even though the can says you can add more stain to wet and even out blotches or streaks, I've found it doesn't work after it's sat very long. It also says you can try spraying water on it to get it wet and even it, but I didn't think that worked well at all...just made weird water drop pattern that I couldn't get to buff out.

See how you have some grain with no stain down in it? For the first coat it's not a real big deal, but to get rid of it, you have to put a good pool of stain and rub both across and the long way to get it down into that part, then smooth/buff out streaks. A lot of times, after the first coat, it won't mater how well I got these spots, the grain will still suck the color off the surface and leave light spots.

Very blotchy after the first coat. It's interesting to me to see how different spots in the wood absorb color so differently. Between coats, be sure to use tack cloth to get rid of any dust that has settled.

When putting on the second stain, I'm sure to focus on the light spots, but hit the whole thing again. At this point it's looking pretty good, but I think it can be a little better...

3rd coat....really focus on light spots, and even out to get a nice, even, dark color.
When that is nice and set, I brushed on polycrylic in semi-gloss. It's also water based, so it dries nice and fast and has a lot less smell then the oil based stuff. It looks like milk in the can and goes on very cloudy, but dries nice and clear. You want to put on thin coats, in long even strokes going with the grain. Be careful not to "overbrush". It can be a fine line. If your brush isn't sliding easily over the surface, if it feels tacky at all, you are overbrushing and will leave visable brush strokes. As long as it's sliding easily over the surface, the poly will self-level pretty well and give you a nice smooth finish. Watch for drips down the sides, or bubbles in the finish. Drips, you can just brush out if you see them when they happen. Bubbles are a little trickier because you have to brush them out, but don't want to's a fine line...sometimes I'll add a little more poly and then work out the bubbles.

You want to wait at least 3 hours between coats of poly. The directions say to sand between coats, but I was worried about having stain problems like we had before, so I just didn't and guess what? It was just fine :). I've actually done that before and had not problems with the results after not sanding. It bonds just fine. You just have to be more careful with each coat because you won't be fixing it with sandpaper. I use 3 - 4 coats...on this I did 3 and felt it was good.
And finished! again...:) No more weird light spot in the middle....Now it is ready to be sold.

Friday, July 23, 2010

So worth it!

Well, I finished it. I built two new front legs and delivered this chair today. At the end of a project I get all worried that they are not going to be happy with my work. For this one, I was worried because I hadn't been able to match the old color, so I had painted the whole thing a brown that was close...I was worried they would be mad. When I'd picked it up from this older couple, they told me it had been his step-mother's, but that if it couldn't be fixed it wasn't a problem. But when I brought it back today, I could see in their faces how happy it made them to see it in usable condition...sturdy and in one piece. It made all the difficulty we had in fixing it so worth it. I pretty much love my job :)

(of course, I forgot to get a final picture before delivering it...maybe I'll call to see if I can come by and get a picture...)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The story of a refinished table (part 1 - prep)

This is the story of a table with a lovely walnut colored top.
See? Pretty! But let's take a closer look.
(If you click on the image you can see it bigger, and get full appreciation for my screw ups) I got drippy poly down the sides because I was working in an area that didn't have very good I missed them.

Then, you have to keep in mind that this is a truely handmade table top. It is smooth and fabulous, but it is not 100% flat. When we went to lightly sand after the first coat of polycrylic, one little spot did "something weird". It cut through the single layer of poly on one tiny high spot (even though we were very gentle with it and it was set plenty long) and took off the stain. It was a hard spot, so the stain hadn't gone deep. I figured I'd just re-stain that spot, but I went to hit it and it was like it had pulled the stain off *below* the poly because it would not take stain on that spot I said...weird! Anyway, we wanted pictures of the table for advertising and stuff, so we decided at that point, to fix it, we'd have to strip it anyway, so I finished a few more coats of poly hoping that it wouldn't look as bad in the morning...But it did.

So, due to one little weird spot, you get to take the ride with me as we refinish this table and I'll share what I've learned and what I used on this project.

Step 1....sand the table.
I know that I only had a couple little mistake spots. And I tried to spot fix them, but since we were going from such light wood to such a dark stain, I quickly found it was not possible to do to my satisfaction. (well, the drips could have been an easy fix since I could have just re-done the end with drips, but the top could not easily be fixed). Mr. Duck was in charge of the sanding. His weapon of choice for this is a belt sander. It is MUCH faster then a palm or random orbit sander, and helps give a flatter surface, cutting though stuff more evenly...but I think it must take a skill I don't have because I feel like I always cut through the wood too fast and take off more then I want to. I would have used a palm sander for this and taken a day and a half, where it took him about 2 hours. Start with course grit and work your way to finer grits. He used 40, 80, 120, then 220 on the belts. 40 cuts through VERY fast so it's only used with extreme caution, and he only put it on when he found the 80 was having a hard time getting though the finish. Mr. Duck's tips on using a belt sander - "hold the sander in a 'neutral' hand position...not tipping it front to back or sided to side because that will leave gouges. Let it sit flat on your surface and only use your grip to slide it around."

Follow up with a sanding block and 220 grit paper. Pay special attention to the end grain as it will absorb stain faster...the smoother it is, the better it is to work with.
This is a good time to take a break and see what is growing in the garden, and see how cute Katie is :)
Step 2 - Set up your work space and gather supplies
Put your table somewhere with good, even lighting (to avoid drips the second time around....) and gather your supplies. I like to work with water based products whenever possible...they are less smelly, dry quickly and don't require special attention when disposing of rags and brushes. Plus, the water based stain comes in TONS of colors. Yes, that is water in a spray bottle, I'll get to that in a moment. For rags right now, I'm using an old baby blanket, But t-shirts work very nicely too.

Step 3 - pre-raise the grain
Because I'm working with water based stain, I want to pre-raise the grain. When you put water on wood, it will absorb the water and the grain will lift up giving a bumpy surface. Minwax makes a wood conditioner that will do this too, but I've found this method to work just as well on hardwood. On a soft wood, I'd use the wood conditioner. To raise the grain, give the whole top a liberal misting of water. I have read that some hard water will leave spots and to use distilled water...I use filtered water and find it to work fine. Let this sit for about 1 hour then hand sand with 220 grit.

This is the end of part one (as I'm blogging while eating lunch and waiting for my hour to be up to sand....) At this point, you are pretty much at the end of the "prep" phase of refinishing a stained table. Next up, we'll actually get some color on that top!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A new table finished

Well, it took a bit longer then we'd planned, but I'm so happy with how it turned out.
I'm trying to decide if I want to glaze the apron and legs...I probably will because Mr. Duck feels like there is too much contrast...I kinda like it, though. I think we'll bring it into the house to set it up for a proper photo shoot if my brother is willing when he is here tomorrow, but for now, you can see my snapshots.

The top and apron are solid ash. The legs are reclaimed and I'm not sure what they are, but they are solid. It measures 37 x 89 inches and can easily seat 8 people. This table will be listed for sale (once I make a final choice on glazing the apron and legs a bit) so if anyone is interested, contact me for price information.

Linking up to

Friday, July 9, 2010

Never look at catalogs the same again

So maybe I'm slow, and everyone else has discovered this already, but I just had to show you this blog I stumbled across. I laughed so hard! It's called Catalog Living, and gives short stories of "the people living in your catalog." See if you can find my favorites (the q-tips, and the ball of twine...)

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sweet and Sophisticated

Remember this little thing? She was pretty scratched up, but sturdy. And I had a vision for her the moment I saw her!

Do you like it?

I'm really pleased with how it's turned out.

A new color for the hardware.

Nice glossy black, and a touch of surprise pink inside the drawer.

And I had the ultra cool fabric I've been dying to use, and I thought it was perfect for the top of this table! I think it's the perfect balance of sweet and sophisticated.

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Thursday, July 1, 2010

Almost finished...

I feel like I'm sitting on a ton of projects that are *almost* finished. I just need to add one final touch and they'd be done. I'm measuring my progress by how many blog posts I've done, though, so to make myself feel better, I'll post on what we've been up to this week. Then we all know I'm not a total slacker...

A large part of our time has been spent on this big project, which should be assembled by today and finished by this weekend! (finishing is my favorite part)...But we kept getting interupted by this project...
Which Mr. Duck told me would be a pain, and difficult, but he let me say yes (because I always say yes...) because I said it wouldn't be too difficult.
Here is where it started...we're just supposed to be fixing the one leg, which meant cutting a new leg...but in the (difficult) process of attaching the new leg, the other front leg, which was already cracked, decided to REALLY crack, and we decided we couldn't send it back to them knowing the second leg would be breaking soon, so I'm going to make another front soon as I get my jig saw back from my sister in law...Guess I need to call them to update them on it since it's taking me a little longer then I'd predicted....

But now I know how to cut out pretty curvy legs! :)

And then there are projects like these...
That are sitting finished and ready to sell, except I need to replace one drawer slide, and it's a weird one that I had to order and I measured it wrong, so I need to re-order it so it will be another week before I can actually list it for sale.

I also painted a candlestick was cream and they want it silver, but the silver I started is very "glittery" looking and I was hoping for more of a "brushed nickle", so I think I may hit the store for a different spray paint....(anyone had any luck getting a bushed nickle? which paint did you use?)

Make it stop!

I came across this article on today....Seriously??? Why oh WHY do people still insist that empty frames are fashionable? They we...