There’s an old saying that “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure”. While that may not always be the case, sometimes with a little elbow grease it is. Here in Tucson, we have a bi-annual Brush and Bulky Materials Collection day. It provides an opportunity to get rid of junk you no longer need or don’t have room to trash in your regular garbage container. Unofficially this is also a get cool stuff free day.
The night before our last pickup day, I spotted this old rickety oak table. My thought was that it would make an excellent table next to my BBQ. So I walked a couple of houses down the street, picked it up and carried it home. When I finally got the thing home (quite a task as the leafs were practically falling off), I dropped it on the porch to show my cool find to my wife. Perhaps that was a mistake? Nah, not really. One look and the table was re-purposed for under the window in the kitchen.
Before the Restoration
Unfortunately, I didn’t think to take some good before pics – but then I didn’t expect the finished table to look so good I’d be bragging about it. The hardware was in pretty bad shape; hinges rusted shut, table leaf slides were broken, screws were missing and not even designed for wood (sheet metal screws were being used). The wood itself was separating, water damaged, stained, carpenter bee damaged and misshapen. Over time some slats of the blockboard top and leafs had become enlarged due to water obsorbtion and no longer fit with the rest of the pieces they were glue/pressed to.
The first step was to tear the entire table apart – it took about 20 minutes to remove all screws, hardware, bolts and completely dismantle the table.
Once the table was apart I started by washing the eight wood pieces of the table to remove spider webs and other debris. Next it was time to start sanding the stand and feet. The stand was the easiest, and didn’t need too much work. I sanded the pieces smooth, removing stain and water marks. Then using clamps glued the separating end slats back together and sanding before reassembling the stand.
I had to repair some carpenter bee damage on the feet by filling the holes with a combination of Tight Bond wood glue and saw dust, mixed to form a putty, before the feet could be sanded. Like the stand, there was some block separation that needed to be repaired prior to sanding.
Repaired and sanded, it was time to replace the damaged feet by hammering in new t-nuts after placing a little wood glue over the sides of the nuts. T-nuts in place the base and feet were bolted back and glued back together.
After assembling the base it was time to tackle the more difficult table top. The stationary top piece was ground down with a Ryobi belt sander to level out the weather damaged slats. Unlike the base and feet the top took much more glue-putty and needed pole clamps to close the gaps between the blocks; even thought the goal was for a rustic look, the gaps had top be re-glued and sealed in order to prevent continued separation over time.
The leafs were more difficult than the top as the end blocks were nearly completely separated; in fact they broke off with only the slightest bit of pressure. So in addition to the standard gluing and clamping I used finishing nails then counter-sunk them into the wood and puttied over the heads. Finishing nails weren’t the the first choice; initially I soaked the end pieces and clamped them to attempt to straighten the wood, but even after several attempts and days of soaking the wood din’t want to reshape. Forcing the peaces in place, gluing, puttying and clamping were the only option.
At this point all of the table pieces needed to be stained. My wife took charge here and used two different MinWax stains. She applied several coats until the table had the color she wanted.
Now it was time for the assembly, problem was that the hardware was more or less rusted trash. First step – locate hinges; no good. After looking in every hardware store in town it became apparent that I couldn’t find them in matching sizes. This turned out to be a good thing, as it kept the more rustic look to the table.
I didn’t simply use the rusted hardware, I refurbished it as well; using a Dremmel, Inox, a couple different spray paints and wood stain. First I broke the rust free and lubricated the hinges. Then I ground, sanded and painted the pieces. When the4 paint had dried a while, I hit it with the same stains used later on the oak pieces. This created an aged look while protecting the hardware from rusting again.
With hardware and oak pieces restored the next step was to assemble the table. After a few hours everything was looking good except that the original drop-leaf slide locks (made that word up because I didn’t know the proper name for the piece) were unusable.
I cut a couple of pieces out with the table saw then edged them with the Dremmel, until I had more or less duplicated the original slides. These were then stained and attached to the table.
Once in the house, My wife stepped up again and this time worked in Howard’s Feed And Wax. The Feed & Wax will need to be applied a few more times to moisturize the wood, but in the mean time we have a beautifully restored table in the kitchen.
After The Restoration