Over the weekend, Scott and I got to work on making our Craigslist farmhouse table a usable, working studio desk for this girl. For now, I’m still using the same small painting table, but word on the street is that the drywall work will be finished this week (or next, maybe?), and we can start dusting ourselves off and turning rooms into spaces we’ll love – rooms we can walk into and feel a little more at ease in.
Just like our house, this table is over 100 years old (love that!), and over the last century, it’s seen its fair share of abuse; knicks and dents abound (just the right amount), but we did need to extend the longer aprons even more. Before I dive into how we made that happen, let’s jump to the end (real quick!) so you can see what I mean:
Apparently, 100-year-old tables don’t extend in the same way that modern tables do – at least not this one. Rather than the entire table pulling apart to accommodate the leaf (which was provided with the table when we picked it up), only the top pulled apart. This made for over a foot of overhang on either side, something we weren’t too excited about not only for aesthetic reasons, but also for practicality and function for its intended use.
To remedy this, we had to install new aprons on the longest widths, as well as prep it overall for the final finish while still maintaining the hunky, solid structure. We’re excited to have partnered with 3MDIY.com to test out a new-to-us product line of abrasives and safety gear (the verdict is in: 4 thumbs up!) and get this table ready.
2 – 1″ x 6″ x 6′ (pine)
1 1/2″ drywall screws
Compound miter saw (to cut our pine to 64″)
Mini Kreg jig
3M™ Advanced Abrasives: coarse + fine sandpaper
3M™ Safety Products: sanding respirator + eye protection
WHAT WE DID: The tabletop rested on sliders atop the legs/aprons, so those lifted right out, and we set them to the side. After that, we could see what was going on with the original aprons, which came in at around 3 1/2′, notched into the turned legs and held in place with ancient nails. Despite the age of those nails, those suckers were in there, and not wanting to scratch the legs by prying out the nails – not to mention, we really liked the way they looked – we made it easy on ourselves by simply cutting out the aprons, leaving the notched edge still in tact.
The cuts weren’t perfect, so we sanded them down, giving us a smooth surface to attach the new aprons in place.
We picked up two 6′ lengths of pine 1x6s and cut them down to 64″ each using our compound miter saw. To get that desired length, we measured the length of the old aprons (40″) and added the width of the leaf (24″). Using our Kreg jig, we secured them in place with 2″ drywall screws in 4 pocket holes for each of the corners where they met the turned legs. For extra credit, we also added additional pocket holes on the shorter aprons – just because. (Scott is a big fan of the built Vargo tough! mentality.)
With our aprons complete, we took all 3 sections of table top, pocket holed the oblivion out of them so it was one solid piece, then slid it back onto the table base. (This also helped to pull together any gaps in-between each individual leaf.) Because the top wasn’t attached in any way, we also pocket holed the top to the base – for extra, super duper measures. (Three cheers for hidden pocket holes! Hip, hip!)
Up until that point, things went nice and smooth. Easy, even. But we knew the real beast would be sanding off the old polyurethane. It was chipped, cracked and – just like those nails – ancient. It wasn’t done very well, and although it tells a story of the table’s age, it detracted from the overall beauty.
This is when we started sanding – and sanding and sanding. We’re no strangers to dust at this point (it’s practically our 6th roommate), but I manned myself with the 3M™ respirator and safety glasses. (PS: We’ve been using the disposable respirator masks and $1 glasses throughout the majority of our demolition – but you guys! This gear was my savior throughout the entire sanding marathon. The mask is cozy [for real], the glasses don’t warp my vision [seriously], and often times, I’d forget I was wearing anything at all. Huge props to 3M for sending them our way to test out; there’s no going back to sub-par gear now.)
While I sanded, Scott tied up a few loose ends around the house (tidying cables and stuffing the ceiling with insulation along the outer walls), but every time he came into the garage to check on me, I was still sanding. Note: We used 80 grit sanding pads on our mouse sander, and we followed that up with 220 grit pads to get the finish as smooth as possible.
I sanded for the entire afternoon and into the evening, making sure to get into every nook around the legs. For those smaller details, I used 80 grit sandpaper (followed up with 120), since it was easier to do by hand.
At one point, we tested out using a stripper, which – no. The residue it left behind became more of a hassle than just using pure muscle to motor through the poly finish, so full disclosure: we stripped at one point, regretted it, then spent a few more hours whittling down the fog it left behind.
But! After one and a half days of sanding our little hearts out (because yes, the sanding continued through Sunday afternoon), we had a clean ready-for-stain table! My arms still feel like they’re vibrating, but it was worth it to see those brand new aprons match (close enough to the) tone of the rest of the table.
Because the table prep – ahem, sanding prep – took the better part of our entire weekend, I’m still finishing up the mixing of stains, so that’ll come soon! (We’re giving our best go at this look – a mix of stains for that perfectly weathered I’m-old-but-still-look-good.) Spoiler alert, though? It’s gorgeous. Add this table to our list of things-we’re-daydreaming-about – one hot table in a pretty pink room. (Dare I remind you of my green velvet chair? That’ll layer in, too. I could just scream.)
It’s looking great so far, and the finish in the link….wow. No wonder my efforts never look quite so good. I get way too excited for the end result that I tend to rush a lot of the prep steps. This really shows why I should be more patient! Can’t wait to see the final result!
Amazing…can’t wait to see it all stained up!!
Please tell me this sentence was an intentional double-entendre: “so full disclosure: we stripped at one point, regretted it, then spent a few more hours whittling down the fog it left behind.”
The table looks great!
Jessica, ha! It wasn’t, but I’ve always been unintentionally full of zingers in my daily life. Let’s just say, I get a lot of raised eyebrows.
that is such a great Craigslist find! Though I am loving a lighter wood these days (just to brighten up my dark house a bit I think), I’m sure the stain you go with will be lovely! The table looks amazing already.
Now THERE’S a dust mask that looks like it’s doing it’s job. I can rest easily now :D (I’m the mask worrywart from before)
Best wishes for getting your arms back!
Make sure you use a conditioner before you stain! I made the mistake of skipping that step last summer and now I have to go back and re-sand the entire table. Arg!
Ellen, haha, thank you!
Jessica, we did! The table is still waiting on a final coat of poly, but we’ll share it and the process next week. Bummer about your table though!
Great CL find, and an even better duo to bring it back to life. Sanding is a pain, but I think stripping (no pun intended) is even worse. I still have to sand after the stripper and mineral spirits, so what’s the point? It’s only worth it if you’ve got a lot of paint on a flat surface (like a table top). It’s going to look amazing and that chair! Be still my heart!
I really like your sweater and scarf! Would love to know where you got your sweater!
Amanda, thank you! It’s actually just a zip up hoodie from H&M – my favorite brand, since they’re not overly baggy!