09 May 2017

Reviving a Craftsman Pedestal Table

Affiliate links are used in this post, but all opinions are my own. 

furniture makeovers, restoration, refinishing

I found this beautiful oak Craftsman table on Craig's List (surprise!) last summer when I was waiting patiently for the perfect round coffee table to cross my path. This had been a standard height dining table, but the previous owners did the hard work for me. I love the simple, traditional, straight legs. There's nothing fancy about this table, but it is solid and heavy, and just a great piece that blends with any style of furniture or decor. With a 48" diameter, this table is 2-3 inches larger than the majority of tables I found, which means even the folks who sit at the ends of the sectional can put their feet up and get comfy!

The original stain was a blinding orange-yellow, in keeping with the gold-toned oak treatments typical of this style. Over the years, as the top coat ambers, and the stain fades, it changes to an awkward yellow. This was accentuated by the dark wood in our house - it was really not a good look. But like all projects, I knew it would be tackled someday. We lived with this yellow behemoth for nearly a year while I played around with the idea of painting the pedestal every possible color, but everything I saw looked a bit "farmhouse" for my taste, so it was a matter of finding the motivation to strip and re-stain, which is a more involved process than slapping a coat of paint on it.

Stripping The Old Color

Because I tackled this project inside the house, in the living room (I don't recommend this, by the way) I used a less stinky, more natural stripper, and this probably took a bit longer. Also, the top coat was so solid and thick, like an industrial strength clear coat, and required extra effort. It took several applications of stripper to get through the surface. Even after the majority was removed, there were a few stubborn spots that came off with sandpaper. Another side note: the carpet in our living room will be removed this summer and replaced with hardwood (can't wait for that!) so I'm not treating it as delicately as I would otherwise, using a dropcloth, making smart decisions, etc. 

I used an old synthetic bristle brush to apply a thick coat of stripper. This is really the only thing I use the brush for - it's kind of a crappy old brush, but it does this job well. A putty knife works to scrape off the nasty stripper/stain mess. In this case I waited about four hours to let it soak in and work its magic, and repeated this process several times. Apply stripper, let it soak in, scrape it off, assess, re-apply, shot of whiskey. 

This project started at the same time I decided to remove everything from the walls, mid-life crisis like.

Once the remaining stain was sanded off, I cleaned the top thoroughly with READY, a cleaning and prep product by Velvet Finishes. I did this three times, until the cloth was free of brown residue. I really like this product for deglossing and removing buildup before painting or staining. 

Applying New Stain

I played with a combination of General Finishes Gel Stain colors, Brown Mahogany and Java. I use an old t-shirt cut into small sections to apply gel stain. This was a test project; I wanted to see how it would turn out, tweaking the colors and adding details along the way. Brown Mahogany was used for a base coat, but it felt too orange and not dark enough even after two coats. 

The dark section on the right (photo above) inspired me to add a secondary color to add depth to the Brown Mahogany and add some detail. I mixed equal parts Brown Mahogany and Java in a jar, and applied a third coat, which darkened the color beautifully. 

Then, using Java by itself, I added darker detail. You can see the Java clearly in the center section, and I added light layers here & there, aiming for a natural but dramatic look. Man I won't miss that old carpet. This isn't the official "after" picture, you can tell by the real life mess hanging out all over the place. 

Choosing a Topcoat

General Finishes Gel Stain is an oil based product, and my go-to top coat is a water based product. For this project I used Minwax Polyurethane, an oil based top coat. This is where I made a really bad choice. I used a gloss sheen, forgetting how glossy this stuff is. It is really freaking glossy, as in, distracting and jarring. I knew it was bad when my kids looked at this table, which I had been obsessing over for days, and noticed the glossy topcoat, and their lips pulled back in twisted disgust, but they felt bad for me and didn't know what to say. My husband, on the other hand, still hasn't noticed any change in the table. At all. 

Fortunately, easy fix, you can layer different sheens, as long as you layer oil-to-oil or water-to-water. So, don't use an oil-based product on top of a water-based product, or vise versa. See the difference? I love a nice satin finish. 

furniture makeovers, restoration, refinishing

I sanded lightly and added a coat of satin polyurethane with a foam brush applicator. And because you should apply more than one coat anyway, there was no wasted effort. To be safe, and because Jasper is known to leap on top of the table with his thick basset hound claws, I lightly sanded again and added a third coat. And all is well. 

furniture makeovers, restoration, refinishing

My Crafty Friends are about to blow your mind with their transformations. These are the "before" pics. I've seen one of the "afters" and my goodness, Thea does amazing work. I'm off to see the others! We'll be back next month with more good stuff. 

Just The Woods - Love Your Desk Makeover
That Sweet Tea Life - Trying Out Wise Owl
Whimsy and Wood - Go With Red

furniture makeovers, restoration, refinishing

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