Before & After: my first time

Alright, buckle in. This is gonna be a long one. (heh)

Remember the $15 table we picked up in Staunton back in February? Well, look what I did to it.

Right!!?!? I am very happy with myself! 1) for actually completing a project that is covered by my to-do list for this blog…and 2) because it doesn’t suck, at least as far as I’m concerned! I really love how it turned out, and I can’t wait to find the perfect place for it and get it all accessorized up!

Now it’s time for the breakdown…not my breakdown, to be clear, but the breakdown of how I got from before to after. If you’re not interested in all the detail, then just go ahead and leave a comment about how awesome you think it is, and you can be on your way. πŸ˜‰

A few weeks ago, Mister and I hit Lowe’s so I could stock up on brushes and sanding blocks and stain and tack cloths and this and that and some of the other thing. I then promptly deposited those items in the laundry room and went about my life. THEN — Hurricane Irene came along and took all my electricity. SO, on that Sunday, while I was hanging out at the house with no power, I decided to go ahead and just jump in!

Quick confession: remember when I told you about my laundry room and how desperately it needs to be decluttered, and that we were going to be working on that over a few weekends, back in April? Yeah, we didn’t. But I did at least get the center of the room cleaned up so that I had a small work area for this table redo…so please excuse the insanity you see around the edges of the room in the pics to follow.

So, anyway, I decided to go ahead and paint the body of the table while I was sitting around with no electricity. Earlier that week, I had started sanding the table down, so I used my tack cloth to clean it up, and then I grabbed my Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint in Duck Egg Blue and got to it. I knew at the time that it was probably not the best idea to start with paint when I still needed to strip and stain the top, but I really just wanted to see some progress, so I did it anyway. I do not suggest following my example.

When I had sanded the table down initially, I realized that the top was covered in veneer, so I really couldn’t just sand it down. I could have left the veneer intact and just painted it – because chalk paint is that awesome – but I really wanted a dark stained wood on top, so I started chipping away at it. That wasn’t so easy. I got this far:

…and the rest was not willing to come up. I did a quick search around some of my favorite sites for tips on removing veneer, and came across this post on Design*Sponge that basically says to iron it off. That post also makes it sound like “oh, just apply some heat for a few minutes, then slide your putty knife under the veneer and pop it right off! Yay!” That is misleading. Anyway, I had to go out and buy an iron, because we didn’t have one. We gave up ironing ages ago. (That sounds like we did it for our health, like how some people give up red meat. “Oh, you have to be careful as you get older, don’t you? Have to be mindful of your health. We gave up ironing years ago and we’ve never felt better.”) So I ran out to grab one – this is the thing I had to go get that led me to find treasures last weekend – and I got back to it.

That’s the iron while it’s heating up for the first time….then an in-progress pic where I have been able to get most of the veneer off…and then the final shot of the beaten and abused iron and the last little strip of veneer that WOULD NOT COME OFF. That was the first day. I spent about 90 minutes to get this far, and then I just had to walk away. I went back the next day and went to work on that last little bit, and after about another 90 minutes, it was finally all off. So, this method does work, yes – but it’s gonna take some time and some blood/sweat/tears. (Btw, I got out of this project with no iron burns, and only one small gash from the putty knife. Yay me!)

Once all that veneer was gone, I went ahead and stained the top with Minwax Stain in Dark Walnut. I only did one coat, and decided I liked it just like that. The table top was a bit torn up after the veneer came off, and then I actually added a few more pits and scrapes to it before staining because I really wanted a beat up, weathered look — the dark stain set that off really nicely, too.

I had to touch up the paint at the top of the table after I stained it, since I had stained the lip of the table, too, and the stain had definitely made its way on to the paint. See – don’t do like I do. But honestly, it’s very soothing to me to paint something like this, so it wasn’t a big deal. I let the stain set up for about 16 hours before I came back to work on the table, and my next step was to start waxing. Now, I mentioned the chalk paint earlier – let me get into that for a minute. I read about Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint (ASCP) over at Miss Mustard Seed — this is the paint she’s been using on her pieces for several months now, and I love the look of it! What I love even more is that it really can be painted onto almost anything, without the need for stripping the furniture first. Less work = sign me up! I found a starter kit for ASCP at Shades of Amber; the kit includes 3 paint colors, 2 waxes (clear and dark), a wax brush, and a book of paint transformations. It’s a little pricey, but I decided to treat myself for my birthday.

SO – I broke out the clear wax and my fancy brush and just started waxing the body of the table. I didn’t really know what I was doing, so I made it up as I went along. I did the body and then I did the stained top…and this is when I found out that my stain was still not dry, 16 hours later.

Oops. I should have tested the stain beforehand, obviously. That top pic is when I was just getting started, and the bottom pic is after I waxed the top. By now, the little dark specks in the wax are pretty much gone, and the brush washed pretty clean of the stain, too. (Speaking of – I saw a tip toΒ  use vegetable oil to clean the wax brush — I just poured some on the brush and swished it around a few times, then used dish soap and water to clean it all out. Seems to have worked okay.)

After the clear wax had dried, I started sanding the table again to give it that weathered look. I just really winged that, sanding where I thought it made sense, like the edges of the legs and details at the top…and just eyeballed it and stopped when I felt like I should. That’s a scientific as I can get. Then I added a layer of the dark wax, wanting it to really bring out the weathered details and give the table some age. That wax is really dark. Really. I used the brush to apply a layer of the dark wax all over…and I realize now that I did not take pics at the moment that step was finished. It didn’t look bad – but it was, like, really weathered and shabby, and I think it was just too much. After a few days, I came back to it, sanded it down again in some of the darker spots, and then took a damp cloth (instead of the brush) to apply another layer of clear wax. With that, I was able to lighten up some of the really dark areas even more but still leave touches of that weathering and age that I really like. That brings us here:

Ta da!! I really do β™₯ it. For my first try, I think I did alright. Yay me! I know not everyone likes the weathered look (ahem, Mister) but I love it, and this is exactly the kind of piece that makes me go “ooohhh!” when I see it on other blogs.

Here’s the before and after again, in case you’ve forgotten after reading these 87 pages:



12 responses to “Before & After: my first time

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