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Sorry, the titles just don’t get any better with time:-)

I started the refurb of an occasional dining table on Sunday afternoon.

It’s a clever design, with a tilting top that enables the table to be stored to one side when not in use:

Occasional dining table

The base looked very straight forward, but the yew top was another matter. I liked the brass claw feet when I spotted the dining table at the auction house, and my eyes must have focused downwards because I didn’t notice the amount of work needed to the table top:

Work needed to the table top, which has paint speckles and general wear and tear

Over the years, the table has acquired hundreds of tiny paint splatters and speckles. To add insult to injury, some knot holes have been filled with a mis-matched wood filler that’s several shades too light and yellow for the yew wood hues:

The knot holes have been ‘expertly’ filled with yellow wood filler

The table is veneered, so I can’t just sand it down and re-finish it. I had no game plan, so just had a rummage around in the paint shack and grabbed some products and materials to have a grope at the top – after all, it looked such a mess that anything would be an improvement:

Where do I start?

And if worse came to worse, I’d just have to paint the top.

First of all I did a very technical and complicated procedure – I wiped the top down with hot water and detergent (*please don’t try this at home unless you are wearing a high viz vest, safety goggles, safety boots and have to hand a ‘Good Housekeeping’ manual). There were no miracles, no vanishing of marks and speckles, so I had to continue my journey of oh shit, what do I do now? enlightenment.

At some point in time, I purchased some powder pigment ‘thingy’. The pigment ‘thingy’ just sort of sat in the paint shack, looking a bit like a bag of smack, cut with brick dust. I’ve no idea why I bought it, but no doubt thought it would come in handy one day.  There were no instructions for use for the pigment ‘thingy’, it was just sat in the paint shack, in a clear plastic bag, waiting for a Police sniffer dog to have the disappointment of its life and no treats for supper.

I digress… Anyway, I did what I always do at times like this; I hit the problem head on I ignored the washed table top and painted the base instead (in Annie Sloan ‘Old Ochre’). Surprisingly, nay amazingly, the painting of the table base did not improve the appearance of the table top? How bizarre! I was going to have to have another rummage… I grabbed a wad of the stuff I hate (000 steel wool) (it sticks in my skin) and soaked it with cut Tung Oil. Table top then had a loving massage, which did bugger all (did I mention how ungrateful vintage furniture can be?). I repeated the process, but still bugger all, so I stuffed an unknown quantity a carefully measured amount of the pigment ‘thingy’ in the cut Tung Oil and shook (no not me, I didn’t shake, it wasn’t THAT exciting) the bottle. The golden mixture then turned brown, so I shook it some more and it turned ‘very red indeed’.

‘Very red indeed’ wasn’t at all the right colour to add to a yew table top, but it was Sunday afternoon and I’d run out of: a) ideas, b) any sort of common sense. So I soaked more 000 steel wool in the ‘very red indeed’ mixture and went to work on the table top for half an hour or so. Then hubby appeared and said that the table top looked good (that’s two compliments in two days! He must be having an affair;-)).

Here’s where I’m at:

A work in progress…

The base needs another coat and the top needs more work, but it looks much better:

Feeling my way…

So, the moral of this tale is that a carefully structured *cough* plan of action can make all the difference to a furniture refurb.

Joking aside, there is no Golden Rule Book when it comes to refurbishing furniture. Every item is different, with its own quirks and foibles and problems, so it’s just a matter of plodding on and seeing what does or doesn’t work. Hopefully, by this time tomorrow the table will look good (failing that, there must be someone who would like a  ‘very red indeed’ tilting dining table).

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