17 October 2016

Why not??


Why can't I do something?  What happens if I try and fail?  What's the worst that can happen?

That's the kind of thinking that I have tried to encourage since starting this blog.
•Try it and see.
•If you don't ask, the answer is always "no".
•Rules can be just "guidelines". (Sometimes there are arbitrary rules that I follow that seriously, are just guidelines.  I'm not talking about going out and killing people or driving the wrong way on a street. Those really are rules to follow.  I don't cut in line because that's rude.  I do have a moral code to follow, also. But...."Wait for help before opening this cabinet" in a store that has zero salespeople? You better bet if the cabinet opens, I'm going to open it if no one is around to help me. That kind of stuff.)
•Don't be afraid.

Which is how I got around to refinishing my dining room table. Remember we had the centerpiece cat? Max lived on the dining room table for 3 years.

Max, the centerpiece cat. 

In that time he stepped in his water bowl more than once. The finish had already crazed from age before Max took up residence. The water stains just put the finish over the edge.

Isn't that a pretty white water stain?
Makes quite a statement when you walk in the house!

This table was my grandparents. I asked my mom if she remembered when they got it. 
"Sometime between the year I was born (1924) and the beginning of the Great Depression. (1929)"
Wow! That certainly puts it in perspective. 

So, old family heirloom plus pretty pretty wood underneath plus the fact that it is my only dining room table...not like I'm going to get to go out and buy a new one....made the idea of stripping the top a little unnerving. 

But I wanted it done. And no one else was stepping up to do it.  And...


I figured the worst that could happen is I make a mess of things and I have to put a table cloth over it until I could get it done professionally.  Hey! It had a table cloth on it anyway. Can't lose. 

A friend suggested lightly sanding the surface first as that MIGHT remove the water stained finish enough to make it presentable. Nope. Just uncovered more staining. 

Home Depot netted this stuff which promised to remove only the top finish but not the stain.

Sounds good. 
But will it deliver? 

Following instructions I rubbed the goo in with steel wool, wiping with a clean cloth and watched as the finish melted away. Then I realized that this was basically Acetone and while it was working wonderfully, doing this in the dining room was not a good idea. Even with open windows, Carlos and I were getting a little high.    Out to the garage with the table!


In the back is the area I sanded first. Not a good look.
The front is where the finish has been removed, but not the stain. 

Two days of rubbing with steel wool and the table looked like this:

Who knew there was such beautiful grain underneath?
Old growth mahogany.

So far so good. I admit to feeling pretty confident at this point. Hadn't done anything irreversible and the table top was looking mighty fine. 

Next step was to add a little color back in so that it better matched the rest of the table which was still in good shape. I've read about the wonderful benefits of using Pre-Stain but never tried it. And I confess, I was a little nervous since there was still stain on there...was this a good idea? 
It was.

Pre Stain. It does a table good. 

Feeling pretty invincible at this point I moved on to the final finish. General Finishes had been recommended as a wipe on sealer and it seemed it would blend well with the rest of the table finish. 
On a cool, dry (Read: Low humidity) day I applied the first coat. 

This sounds like what I need. 

Two days later I was still waiting for it to dry. The tabletop was tacky. Oops. Sand it off and try again. This time I practically buffed the finish in. Four coats. It dried beautifully. 

And look!

Beautiful, beautiful table top.
I even impressed myself!

So so happy with the end result. What an amazing difference. 

Nanny would be proud.

Me with my grandmother, Nanny. 
I had black hair when I was born. Belle was the same. 
Then we both turned blonde and have stayed that way in spite of nature.
My mother swears this is me but I'm not so sure they didn't just grab some little monkey off the street. 
I certainly had some sturdy little legs though!

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