Making ugly stuff pretty again

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I’ve found that one of the easiest and cheapest ways to improve our home is by fixing up ugly stuff to make it pretty again. See, for example, the free bar cart that was also free to rehabilitate with a little extra paint and stain I had on hand leftover from other projects.

So that’s what all this is about. When we moved into our house, it contained a few random pieces of furniture, including two dilapidated patio tables under the awning in the back yard. We’d like to eventually replace the two tables with one big, homemade farmhouse style table out there. But for now, we just pushed the two tables together and cover them with a table cloth when we have company.

Because one of them looked like this:

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If you can’t tell from the picture, the surface of the table is completely wrecked. The stain is faded and the finish is peeling and nasty. It has been outside and uncared-for for far too long, and as a result it has let itself go. So I set about refinishing it.

First I sanded the everloving bejeezus out of it. Normally when refinishing furniture, an orbital sander will do, but in this case I whipped out the ole’ belt sander. Some of the stains just went too deep into the stripped wood (because SOMEONE spilled WINE on it once and I have no idea who that was it definitely wasn’t me).

After sanding it to within an inch of its life, the surface looked like this:

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Ah, much better. Or, at least, just a blank slate. Next I chose some stain from our vast collection in the Garage of Miracles (some of which was there before we moved in). I believe I used Minwax Special Walnut. Then, because I didn’t have quite the varnish I wanted, I performed the traditional Mid-Project Home Depot Run. They were also out of the varnish I wanted, but they had it in aerosol form. I have never used aerosol varnish before, so I decided to try it.

BIG MISTAKE. It… definitely did not work as advertised. What I ended up with was a rough, uneven surface that was still tacky 48 hours later and filled with all the airborne crap that got caught up in the spray.

… so I started over. I sanded it down again (this time with the orbital sander) until all that was left was a light layer of stain.

I applied a second layer of stain, and then two layers of Varathane Spar Urethane, which you’ll remember from my charming window boxes and house number board. It’s probably what I should’ve just used in the first place. Oh well.

Voila! A beauteous, rehabbed, “”””shabby chic”””” patio table. It is now in respectable shape for company, and when we eventually build that farmhouse table we can sell it to recoup some building costs. And if I hadn’t wasted $8 on the aerosol spray varnish, it would have cost me nothing but time.

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