Hand-me-down table

Dining Philosophers

It has been a while since we’ve blogged anything new here.  We’ve moved the blog away from Blogspot as we ran into some limitations there.  For weeks I worked on doing a Wedding Budget post, you see we never really kept accurate records of our spendings – we had a rough amount in mind and it seemed like we did a lot with very little which would make for a very interesting breakdown.  Once I tallied up all the receipts though, which took quite a bit of effort, it wound up being a lot more than we thought!  I was very thorough though and included a lot of stuff other people wouldn’t, like the landscaping and the honeymoon – who knows maybe it’s worth revisiting but I really lost motivation for it once I saw the totals.

So I bring you to my current topic, and that is DIY and furniture, specifically regarding our dining table.  When we moved in to the new house we got a hand-me-down table from my brother, which I believe I’d seen living outside on his patio earlier.  It was great for throwing junk on, but we never used it, it wasn’t nice to look at, it was old and broken and didn’t suit the space.

Seriously, yikes!
Seriously, yikes!
Two years of this.  Notice the previous owner's attempt to spray paint a chair...
Two years of this. Notice the previous owner’s attempt to spray paint a chair…

I tried to give it away on a Buy Sell and Swap facebook page.  Three people said they’d take it, but nobody did.  Somebody replied claiming it was a priceless Ercol table with Ercol Windsor chairs.   I looked into that but if anything I’d say it was a knockoff.

We found a great new dining table at Vast Interiors with a bench seat – but we’d always wanted chairs down one side.  We drove around to furniture shops and looked at different options, they were either cheap and uncomfortable, or didn’t look right with the table, or were too expensive.

As bad as the condition was of the Ercol knockoffs they were quite fine to sit on, and the shape was pretty nice too.   I proposed to Lauren that we fix them up and paint them, and it took quite a bit of convincing – I was even taking photos and photoshopping the chairs with paint and showing her what the table would look like with them.

We got to work stripping the old varnish off the chairs, this was quite an effort with several bottles of horrid paint stripper and wire brushes.   This went on for a while until I thought of a dirty little trick – to coat the chairs with paint stripper and then use a Pressure Cleaner to strip the paint.   It was quite an intense approach, with paint stripper globs flying back into my face, and threads of timber peeling off from getting too close, but it was much faster and helped to really expose the bare timber beneath.

Paint stripping, and using the old table as a workbench :P
Paint stripping, and using the old table as a workbench :P
Lauren working as a stripper.
Lauren working as a stripper.
A before and after comparison of stripping the chairs.
A before and after comparison of stripping the chairs.

We also had to fix the chairs up with planing, wood filler, and wood glue.

Gluing, filling, sanding.
Gluing, filling, sanding.

The next step was to paint them.  I decided to use spray-paint in layers: a grey protective undercoat, a matte black paint, a metallic charcoal paint, and a clear coat.  There were 2 or 3 thin coats of each paint, so this took quite a lot of work.

I built myself a spray-paint booth which looked like something out of the Dexter TV show, except even dodgier.   It was unventilated and even with a ventilator mask and goggles I could only stand to be in there for 5 minutes at a time.  For the few weeks I was doing this I felt constantly sick.

 Light stands, chairs, tape to the garage door mechanism - some of the techniques I used to hold up the sheets of plastic for my killing spray-paint booth.
Light stands, chairs, tape to the garage door mechanism – some of the techniques I used to hold up the sheets of plastic for my killing spray-paint booth.
Jokes aside though, it really was a death-trap in there.  Not to mention how STICKY the floor would get, so just walking around was difficult.
Jokes aside though, it really was a death-trap in there. Not to mention how STICKY the floor would get, so just walking around was difficult.
Comparison of various stages of painting.
Comparison of various stages of painting.

The chairs came up quite nicely, but I would never take on a big spray-paint project like this again.  I’ve probably taken years off my life by doing this.

One thing was left though – that old dining table.  So I figured I would turn it into some quirky desks to put in the spare rooms.   I basically did the same thing as with the chairs, but using a paint brush this time 🙂   The colour scheme was inspired by Monica’s apartment from Friends.  The tops are stained with a walnut colour.  I’ve used new slats of timber for the back legs and modesty panel at the back, which kinda doesn’t go with the front, but it does the job and hopefully when it’s against the wall people won’t think too much about that.  I did try aging the new timber so I could stain it to match the tops but it was just never going to look right.

Working on the "desks"
Working on the “desks”
The yellow desk, you can see one of the chairs beside it.
The yellow desk, you can see one of the chairs beside it.
What it might look like in action.
What it might look like in action.

Now for the big reveal, our new dining table complete with upcycled chairs.  There are six chairs in total, but it looks better with only four.

New dining table complete with upcycled chairs.

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