Why buy new when you can improve on old?
One of the crucial items our website (www.ironfenceshop.com) has been missing is product and instructional videos. So we went out and found some folks to help us with filming and editing and began planning all the videos we wanted to do. However, we soon realized that one crucial thing we were missing was a good table surface to present from. So began the search…
We first determined that we wanted to be standing for our product videos. So that ruled out any desks or tables we already had access to here in the office. We figured we needed something anywhere from 38″ to 42″ tall. A kitchen cabinet with a countertop would work height-wise, but would probably look a little goofy. Next we hit the internet and a few supply catalogs we had. Ouch. All very pricey and none really looked as good as their price seemed to command. Lastly, we thought about maybe using a workbench. The height would work. Prices were reasonable. Maybe this would be the fix. Alas, shopping at the local big box stores, I found many of them flimsy and not very filming friendly in terms of looks. So, yet another dead end. No pressure. The first shoot is only a week away!
Then came our savior…Craigslist. Yes, the sometimes maligned selling site actually yielded some gold in the form of a beautiful table/ workbench a guy was selling about 20 minutes from the shop. It looked pretty solid and little worn in the pics, but the height and size was perfect. A few emails later, and I was en-route in my truck with cash in hand.
Upon first seeing the table, I was a little concerned. ‘Worn’ was more like ‘stained and really beat up’ in person. However, the piece felt really solid had potential. The current owner said he had bought it a long time ago from a lab that was closing down. He was getting rid of it to make more room in his shop. He estimated it to be 30-50 years old based on when he bought it and how long the lab was there. So, I parted ways with the $100 I brought and gave my muscles a good work-out dragging it out of their basement and hefting it up into the truck with the now previous owner.
On the way back, the weather gods decided that it was a good time for a nice heavy sleet, slush, snow and rain display for the entire 40-minute drive back. Needless to say, the drenching did not help the already beat up and stained table.
After waiting a few days for the wood to dry out, I came back with mouse sander in hand to get started. It was a dreary and cold Superbowl Sunday so I thought I would head up to the shop early to get sanding and see what was underneath.
Any protective polyurethane that had been on the top of the table was gone and the coloration was more ‘patina of time’ (read: dirt) than stain anymore. The legs were in a little better shape, but the polyurethane was dried out and peeling in most places.
So, on went the sanding. 5.5 hours of sanding to be exact! I started out with a rough 50 grit to take the layers of dirt and old polyurethane off and then transitioned down to 80, 120 and finally 220 grit. Lots of sawdust mess and sweat later (the pic below was after I swept up a healthy pile of sawdust), it was starting to clean up and look presentable.
So after much sawdust clean-up, I moved it upstairs to the room we would be filming in. I wasn’t sure what wood it was made of. I believe the top to be oak, but the legs I’m not so sure. To make sure staining didn’t go badly after all my sanding efforts, I put a coat of Minwax® Wood Conditioner on to ensure the stain applied evenly.
After wiping the excess Wood Conditioner off, I let it set for about 15min. Now we were ready to see what kind of character this wood had hiding underneath. I went with Minwax® Polyshades in a Light Oak color and satin finish. I love staining wood, but not so much the poly part. I know the purists aren’t a fan of the ‘2-in-1’ staining method, but I’ve been very happy with the results every time I used it.
I applied the first coat and then let it set overnight to fully dry. I then came back in the morning and gave it a good rubdown with some super fine #0000 steel wool to smooth things back out.
I then applied a second coat of stain and let it dry overnight again. In the morning, I ran it down with the super fine #0000 steel wool again and in the end I was very impressed with how good it came out!
So now I’ve got my presentation table for our video shoots. It was fun bringing some really nice, old wood back to life. The table should have a nice new lease on life.
Now I just need to figure out some product presentation easels for the top of it…