refinishing a factory table | part 1

Marian ParsonsFurniture Makeovers, Kitchen, My House, Tutorials80 Comments

Before we even moved in, before we even knew this house was ours, I knew a new kitchen table would be on our list of furniture to hunt for.  We’ve been using a small pine table, which fit our last house well, but it’s always felt too small for the four of us at meals.  And it was definitely too small for this new space.

(The table was buried under there somewhere!)

If the kitchen is the heart of the home, the table is heart of the heart.  It’s where the family gathers for meals, homework, crafts, household business, and devotions.  It’s an important piece of furniture and I wanted it to be solid, properly scaled for the room and how our family will use it.  I also had to love the look of it and it had to pass Jeff’s POJ test.  (POJ = piece of junk.)

A tall order.

So, I’ve been trolling craigslist and haven’t found anything that I really loved.  One evening last week, my mom and I looked together and she spotted a table and chair set that had promise.  We taped the dimensions out on the floor to see how the scale would work in the space.  It was perfect.

I texted the owner of the table and heard from him the next morning.  This was a craigslist sale that started off a little rocky and it’s an example of how impersonal texting is and how voice inflection makes a big difference in communication!  In the ad, the seller noted that he would deliver the set in my county.  In my text, I said I would like to purchase the table and have it delivered.  He was suspect of me, since I was texting from a PA number, and asked for me to mail cash first.  It was my turn to feel like something scammy was going on and I insisted on paying cash on delivery.  After some back and forth, I finally picked up the phone and let him know that I am a real person and I was a serious cash buyer.

I did buy the table set and he did deliver it and it was a craigslist happy ending.

So, here’s the table…

 

…in front of my disaster of a garage.  But, that’s what happens when you move in and start a bunch of projects!  It’s a newer table (meaning it’s not vintage or an antique), but it has some really lovely detail on it that makes it feel like it’s older than it is.  The shiny finish was a dead giveaway, though.

…and it was a little damaged as well, so it would benefit all around from being refinished.

And, when it’s a nice day and you have a heavy table that was just delivered, sitting on your driveway, why not just refinish it on the spot?  So, that’s what I did!  Here’s how…

First of all, if you have a table with leaf, make sure you refinish the leaf with the table.  I have not always done that in the past and then it’s a bummer to go back and refinish the leaf later.

 I found a nice little surprise when I expanded this table.  It has a cool mechanism inside…

Maybe I get way to excited about furniture details and I need to get out more.

I had to sell most of my paint/solvent stash when I moved, so I needed to pick up some paint remover.  I decided to go with a brand I had never tried, Ready Strip, simply because it looked like a remover that used to be my favorite, but I haven’t been able to find for a few years.

This is a big table, so it took the entire bucket and I was skeptical.  I was kicking myself for going with the unknown.  Usually I need to apply the paint stripper twice and I had the entire bucket spread all over the table.  Ooooookay, we’ll see how it goes.

The package also said the product needed to sit for 4-24 hours prior to removal.

I checked it after 30 minutes.

I mean, who has the patience to wait 4-24 hours?  It probably would’ve been necessary if there were many layers of paint, but there was just a layer of poly, so 30 minutes was enough.  This remover worked like a charm and the finish came off like a dream.  It came off in dry ribbons instead of goop, which was oddly satisfying.

This wood looked so amazing without that factory finish!

While the Ready Strip left the top mostly clean and dry, there was still a residue that needed to be cleaned off.  For this, I use Mineral Spirits and #0 grit steel wool.

I’ll put a little bit of Mineral Spirits on the steel wool and scrub the surface.

The spirits evaporate very quickly, so I was able to sand shortly after.  I use an orbital palm sander and start with 80 grit to even out the wood tone.  From there, I used 100, 120, 180, and 220.  I used to hate swapping out the paper grits, but it’s worth taking the time to do that.  The result is a buttery-soft wood surface without any orbital sander swirl marks.

While I worked on sanding the top and apron, my mom hand-sanded the legs.  I’m planning on painting the base of the table, so it just needed to be roughed-up and not completely stripped.

Once the messy process was done, we carried the table inside to finish it.

I’ll share the finishing and painting in the next installment!

The scale and style of the table is perfect.  I’m not 100% sold on the chairs.  They are huge!  They look like they could’ve given birth to our previous kitchen chairs.  I really like the style of them, but I wish I had a shrink-ray, so I could zap them and reduce their size by about 20%.  The advantage to large chairs, though, is that they are more comfortable to pull into the living room for some extra seating and they’ll stand up to more abuse from growing boys (and their herd of friends.)  People also won’t feel like giants, as some did in the tiny antique chairs we’ve been using since our first apartment.

So, the internal debate will go on until I either feel at peace with having chairs appropriately sized for NBA players or I find other chairs that will make good companions for this table.

Disclosure: This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

refinishing a factory table | part 1

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80 Comments on “refinishing a factory table | part 1”

  1. Love the table. The details make it special and having a great table is a real blessing. So many of life’s decisions seem to be made at the kitchen table; the kitchen truly is the heart of the home. Great find. Look forward to seeing it finished and in use.

    And, give those chairs a chance. Mustardized they may be a real blessing.

    The Lord seems to be bringing in just what you need to make this house functional for your family. He is so good to us.

  2. So happy for your family and God’s direction on your move.:)
    I’m so excited about your new table project. We recently found a dining table on Craigslist that is about the same size and finish. I’ve been a little apprehensive to start the project without know exactly how to go about it, so I’m anxiously awaiting the next installment to know how to complete the table.
    Blessings in your new home!

  3. Lovely table and I like the chairs,too. I agree that you should give the chairs a chance. Your boys will grow- I know they are young now and you would have no problem finding chairs in the future- and the style looks great with the table.

  4. The chairs are a very interesting shape. Are they comfortable to sit in for more than a short time? Remember the boys will continue to grow ( by leaps and bounds) and will appreciate comfortable chairs. Also sturdy holds up well to wiggling.

  5. Gorgeous piece! I recently redid our table, which appears to be roughly the same size! Once I finished, I realized the chairs we had just weren’t a good fit. Luckily, I found exactly what I was looking for on Craigslist, my old chairs found a wonderful new owner the same way and everyone is happy.
    So, about your chairs… they are lovely, but I agree about the scale. Their competing style also makes it difficult to really appreciate the lovely details of the table. It’s a little like having two brides at one wedding. Each is lovely on their own and would be best served by having their own venue.
    Can’t wait to see how the finished piece turns out!

  6. The table is the perfect size for your space in the kitchen – great find!!! I have a table that I have had for the last 28 years that has the same mechanism in the middle for the leaf which makes it so easy when you need to switch it out to make it smaller or larger. I’m also planning on stripping and sanding mine down since I bought new upholstered chairs to go with it instead of my farmhouse wooden ones. Since I was unsure as to how to do the stripping, I was so excited to see the steps that you took in order to prepare it. Thanks for the step by step instructions and I look forward to seeing the finished product! I’m planning on painting the original wooden chairs to keep for large gatherings, so I can’t wait to see how they turned out.

  7. I really like the table and chairs. I think they will grow on you. They are nice and sturdy. Are there only four? If so, then you could do something different on the ends to give it some style. They will get used a lot! You can never have too many chairs in a kitchen. Love following along to see your progress each week. What a blessing to have family there to get so much done.

  8. Love that you shared the Craigslist craziness and the refinishing process (except for the final part). It’ll look so perfect there—my husband would also often think POJ on some finds, haha!

  9. It is a lovely table. I too find it satisfying when the varnish peels off. It’s like peeling a sunburn, something I found funny when I was a young girl. Lovely work!

  10. The table looks so much better stripped and I know you aren’t even done with it yet. I have painted and stained furniture before but never stripped. I admit I’m nervous about it. Our dining table belonged to my parents and I grew up with it. However, it’s poly has become orange and I know I must get over my fear. My only question is how do you dispose of the goop/stuff that is scraped off during the stripping? Must it be disposed of in a special way similar to old cans of paint? And congratulations on the move.

  11. It never ceases to amaze me how you find all these perfect pieces for your style. The scalloped trim on the side of the table is the best!

  12. Your mom has a good eye. That table is going to be perfect for your style and the size of the room.

    Speaking as a mom of two sons, I urge you to keep the chairs. My “boys” are now 6′-0″ and 6′-1″, and the youngest isn’t even out of high school yet.

    1. I agree. Hold on to those chairs. I used to say that if you listened hard in the quiet of the late evening, you could hear my son grow. When my son entered 7th grade, I remember buying good shoes that were a little too big for his feet at the beginning of September and by the end of October the shoes were to small. Jeans that were too big at the start of the school year were too short and too small by December. Food just “vaporized” in front of him. On Friday nights he would have his friends over and EACH would devour a whole, large pizza and part of another one. In about an hour they were hungry again. I never minded. Given the number of things other mothers sadly were having to deal with (kids with guns, gangs, not knowing where their kids were or who their friends were) I figured that if my only worry was their appetite, I had it made. So ….. hold onto those chairs, you’re ain’t seen nothin’ yet!

  13. Can’t wait to see completed table…I love the apron’s little added design. And I love the chairs. I like a sturdy chair with a higher back. I think when all finished you will love them. I watched your IG video striping table, it was so helpful. The broken spindle in chair…have a new one lathed by a wood worker so you’ll have that extra seating …

  14. I think the table is perfect, and wait to judge the chairs till you paint them, they will shrink, visually, but they look sturdy, you need sturdy, they will be used. Can’t wait to see what’s next with the set.

  15. Definitely give the chairs a chance. I had a BIL who was close to 300 lbs who broke two of my antique chairs. I didn’t warn him about their age, and he was very apologetic. I moved the antique chairs out of our public spaces. That was a good move, because as my four boys got older, they got bigger and clumsier. I didn’t want to keep shouting, “Don’t sit in that chair!” and making them feel uncomfortable in their own home. And I didn’t want to be rude to heavier guests (and basically, with antique chairs, the only person who I felt was completely safe to seat was my 5ft, 102 lb sister). I’m not petite myself, so I appreciate a good sturdy chair with plenty of back support.

  16. Old American Wagon Country comes to mind when I look at your new chairs. Love the table but I don’t think the chairs work with your French and primitive American pieces. I just purchased from Craigs list for the first time and it worked out great. Found a beautiful cast iron French style coffee table with marble top for $350. What a great buy because anything new is at least $1,000 or more.

  17. Those chairs pair so well with your bar stools that I would keep them. Maybe add different chairs at the end. Fabulous find.

  18. Love, love love the table! Would love rug info, if you’d share. I’m looking to replace my kitchen rug. Thanks!

  19. Can see what you mean about chairs, but perhaps if you paint and as you refinish kitchen they will blend in better. Big sturdy chairs are not always elegant, but they sure are family-friendly.

  20. Love the table! It will be great! As a lover of chairs I say keep ’em and paint them but only use 2 Biggie’s on the ends of your table (save the others to use as desk chairs or when family comes over). Check out the salt chair from DWR not too spendy and a smaller profile- you could probably fit 3 on a side and see into the kitchen unobstructed. Sorry- I am a lover of chairs!!

  21. I have an armoire I need to strip, after postponing the task for years. Can you tell me where you bought this stripper? I’ve stripped a lot of furniture (years ago) and that “dry ribbons” looks very appealing to me!

  22. Have you considered using a bench on one side of your table and moving 2 of the chairs to either end? Or you could use 2 benches and just chairs on the ends. The benches wouldn’t cover the beautiful detail on the table. I enjoy seeing the progress on your home….many blessings as you fill your new home with family, friends and love!

    1. I love the look of benches, but they are a little hard to step over. I like chairs better, but I think that’s a good point of seeing the detail on the apron. Hmmm…

  23. Did you strip the legs as well or just the top? Just wondering if stripping the legs is necessary? IF I can get away with not that would be a huge time saver. Stripping the legs is the worst part ever!

  24. Lovely table, with those sweet details! But I also think the chairs, while practical and sturdy for growing boys, just aren’t quite right for your style and for the rest of the room. I’d think about keeping them, probably painted, but either use them elsewhere or as DeAnna said above, use two on the ends with something sleeker and less obstructive on the sides of the table. To me they detract from the table and the rest of the room.

  25. My Hitchock table of 36 years has the same mechanism. Also I bought six what I thought “antique” chairs in
    the Williamsburg style from a used furniture store. They were about 60 years old. The first Thanksgiving it was snap crackle and pop………….ouch. The big boys and
    men were sitting and leaning back. Actually the chairs were sturdy enough it was the harp what was dried
    out. So we moved on to Overstock.com and bought some really nice chairs. Took my engineering husband
    and hour and a half to put the first one together and after that they went along quickly. Love the detail on the side
    apron.

  26. I literally laugh out loud when reading your posts sometimes!!! I love your sense of humor! And I actually love the scale of the chairs! Usually you see the opposite problem….chairs being too small for the table. And that scalloped detail along the side of the table is just beautiful!!!! Great find!!!!

  27. Great find! Thanks for the info on the paint stripper. And I LOVE Jeff’s POJ classification! 😁 Don’t we need our other halves to keep us grounded sometimes? 😉❤️

  28. Love this table; it’s so perfect & cleaned up so beautifully. Can’t wait to see your process on finishing it. Maybe keep the chairs till you see something 20% smaller? I do love that I can pull my chairs around for the living room or family room seating.

  29. Marion, by the mechanism in your table and the size and shape of your chairs it looks very much like my set. Purchased in 1989 and made by S. Bent and sobs I think. Extremely well made, mine has held up well and are still as sturdy as the day we bought them. The finish on it is still excellent as well. This was not a cheap set way back when, it was an investment quality of furniture. You made a good purchase! If you look on the bottom of the chairs you may find the makers mark.

  30. Ok, that wasn’t a wood laminate top, right? I have coffee tables I’d love to do that to, but they’re laminate, not solid wood!

  31. Keep the chairs,,,,,, not everythng is about looks, I am sure over time you will appreciate the durability of them.

  32. Lovely table, Marion! It’s so exciting to watch you delve into the projects this new home offers you. I feel as though I’M the one who just moved.. 🙃

  33. Hi Marian, I love that you are sharing all these processes even though you just had a big move. Thanks for that! I think the table and chairs look great style wise and scale. Looking forward to seeing the finishing process! You go girl!!

  34. Thanks for the much needed tutorial ,
    I think the chairs are charming – live with them a while and you may agree .

  35. I love the table and the chairs!!! I can’t wait to see the table finished, although it looks fabulous already. It is such fun reading about your projects!

    Also, you find the best deals on Craigslist!!!

  36. Marian,
    Was the pine table the same one you had in your dining room in your old house in PA? It does look much smaller in your new space. Maybe some of the French style chairs you used with the old pine table might be too small in size for the new table but you did have two bigger wing chairs at one time anchoring the old table. I think they would look great with the new table. I guess I am not sold on the chairs that came with table but I think the table will look amazing when you finish it.

  37. Ooooo, I love that table! Especially after you removed the shiny finish. I can’t wait to see how you finish it.

  38. Yup … my table has leaves … and I didn’t do them at the same time as the table. Annnnnd …. I’m not excited about stripping them either. However, I am excited to try out the Ready-Strip! Thanks for the review 🙂

  39. Love your find what a great table, can’t wait to see how you finish it. I do understand about those chairs but, some day those boys will be big and their friends.

  40. Thanks so much for sharing this product, I am about to do the same to my kitchen table that was actually built by my Opa years ago. I also love the chairs, spoken from a mom of boys. If you have room, maybe adding small winged back chairs on each end will add some softness, character and comfort. Whatever you decide will be great!

  41. I LOVE the detail on the table. It’s gorgeous! I love the natural grain and color but I bet I’ll love it even more when you’re done with it. Good find!!

  42. You find the most amazing items! Love this table. I’m with you, the chairs look a bit too big with the table when you use all of them. Maybe a mix and match would be better? Excited to see what you do with it.

  43. Really useful post on stripping the top! Thank you. I had a table I finally found a new home for because it just looked too new. Next time I will try your stripping and sanding techniques.

  44. Love the table. The chairs? Not so much. Big and heavy doesn’t necessarily equal sturdy and comfortable. I would look for chairs with backs that are similar to your barstools—or even Comb-back Windsor chairs. But whatever you decide, it will be lovely.

  45. I love your table! The apron is so adorable! You had a great description on how you sanded the top, etc., but I wondered how you did the legs. Do you do them by hand or do you use an electric device of some sort? I hate sanding turned legs and such and I’m hoping you have a secret way to do them. I love you blog and everything about it! Thanks for sharing!

  46. I’d love to know how much you paid for this set, how about cutting a pattern out from the back seat panel like a flower leaf or star ?
    Look forward to seeing the next installment

  47. I think the chairs look great with your bar stools. Once they are painted and also your kitchen cabinets, it will make a big difference. Just looks like a lot of wood right now. It will be gorgeous I’m sure!

  48. What a great find! Our very large oak table that was part of many many gathering in our China had the same mechinisim. I loved it. My little then girls could pull that table apart in seconds. The leaves were stored in it too. I have put off stripping our $5 kitchen table of the layers I put on it. Ordered! Thanks.

  49. I had the same phone number experience as you when I moved from Maryland back to my hometown in Wisconsin. A woman who I wanted to paint some windows for me almost didn’t answer my call because of the area code. Be prepared for your phone number challenges to continue. At many local stores with discount cards linked to phone numbers I have to explain why I have a 443 area code. And even though I love being near my family now I’ll never give up my Maryland phone # because I have such fond memories of living there – like shopping your booth at the Luckett’s Spring Sale!!

  50. I’ve refinished numerous pieces but forget how I did them so I like to see the process! Your mama loves you, for sure, to do the hand sanding on the legs:) very nice table. Excited to see the next steps.

  51. I think what is throwing people off is we are looking at a bunch of wood before Miss Mustard Seed has her way in the space. You said you were painting the cabinets. I personally would love the chairs painted the color you paint the base of the table (whatever that will be). The chairs complement the stools very nicely and like many have said those kiddos have a tendency to grow and they will have their friends around! Maybe some practical armchairs that coordinate and would be great to use as extra chairs in the LR!

  52. Can I borrow your mom? Lol! She sounds like a peach! I love the detail on the table, btw. It reminds me of old fashioned rick-rack. So cute! Maybe you’ll get used to the size of the chairs? You’re probably comparing them to the small antique chairs that you’re used to seeing. But your whole house will shrink as your boys grow. It seems like you are making great progress. Thanks for sharing!

  53. I wonder if you new neighbors are secretly peeking out the windows watching you work!!??!! It’s lovely. I can’t wait to see what you do with it….and the whole house.

  54. THe table is gorgeous! Thank you so much for showing us the steps to making Her ‘Farmhouse’ style. Our kitchen table has that manufactured look to it too and I’ve been scared to turn it into my Farmhouse type table.
    Not anymore! Thank you for that;)
    You’ve always been a wonderful source of inspiration to me.

  55. I love the chairs ! I want looking at the table and the chairs csiugt my eye . They are perfect for your growing boys and they fit the table .

  56. I love this, and I think the chairs are great. Is there a brand or manufacturer printed on the table anywhere? I love the detail around the top and want to try to find something similar. I would so appreciate any info you can share! Thanks 🙂

  57. Don’t you love a mixture of dining chairs? Some for the NBA and a couple for the Dainty Darlings? Me, too! Enjoying the redo!

  58. Those chairs look like Tell City Chairs. Are they????. Just used one of your stencils in my guest room. Love how it turned out

  59. Yes! My boys are 12, and 16. My 16 year old is 6’1 and 240 lbs, and my 12 year old is gaining on me in height, he must be 5’4 already, and 160 lbs. Just before I read this post, I had my ‘little’ guy stand next to my husband and his shoulders are broader than my husbands ( at 12!). And my husband is broad shouldered. Crazy! You might be glad for those chairs, before you know it. Even my boys slighter friends are not delicate when sitting~ nor is my 14 year old daughter. 🙂
    I changed two years ago from Hitchcock chairs to farmhouse chairs that are sturdy. The Hitchcock chairs are in my basement waiting patiently to reappear years from now when it’s safe. 🙂

  60. I recently purchased a VERY similar set (yay craigslist!) I’m very interested to know how you plan to finish the table top. In my case the table I purchased has some heat rings and water marks which don’t look great with a shiny finish. The table is solid wood and I am toying with stripping and then using hemp oil (tables and chairs). I’m wondering how this will hold up in a kitchen environment with kiddos. I’m OK with imperfection but want to be able to wipe the table with a wet wash cloth and not ruin/warp it with sweating glasses or hot plates. Can’t wait to see you work your magic on your table!

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