Once upon a time, we had a lovely dining room table.
Then, we had a couple of kids.
They stuck their gooey hands all over it. They spilled Campbell’s chicken soup and milk and Elmer’s glue. They pressed into its shiny top with crayons and their fat pencils, carving lurching letters and smiley faces and names and dates and numbers. Granted, there was a piece of paper between the lead point and the table below, but still.
The finish wore off here and there in large, sticky, unappetizing patches. These I pretended not to notice for as long as humanly possible.
Eventually, the kids grew older–old enough to dream of our table from days of yore. For your edification, I here include a glimpse into our household refinishing process.
How to Refinish a Table in 43 Easy Steps:
- Think about doing this project for a couple of years.
- Realize that the table project would be preferable to fixing a leaky basement or cleaning out the garage.
- Drag the gigantic table outside and sand it down to the bare wood.
- Drag it back inside.
- Think about finding some stain.
- Eat sitting on the floor at the coffee table for several weeks.
- Apply water-based stain.
- Gasp at its hideous appearance.
- Drag it outside to sand down again.
- Do some research.
- Buy a lovely espresso-colored oil-based stain.
- Be disappointed in its overall rough and uneven appearance.
- Sand it down.
- Do more research.
- Use mineral spirits in an attempt to remove the former wax finish, which has apparently sequestered deep into the grain.
- Sand more.
- Stain again.
- And again.
- And again.
- Decide you can live with the mottled appearance. Decide to call this “character” or “visual interest” rather than “egregious error.”
- Apply a high-end polyurethane and cross fingers.
- Watch it bubble up like a fourth grade science project.
- Consider weeping.
- Sand the crap out of it.
- Add a little stain to hide the worst of the bare patches.
- Reapply poly.
- Watch it bubble.
- Pick out hairs and try not to weep.
- Sand more.
- Poly more.
- Pick out hairs.
- Lower expectations further.
- Apply fourth and final coat of poly and pray.
- Be pleasantly surprised.
- Go out for a celebratory glass of wine.
- Receive phone call from spouse: fat, hairy, horrible cat has been meandering around on the final, tacky coat of poly.
- Consider “doctoring” kitty’s food.
- Order another glass of wine instead. And cheese.
- Arrive home and view carnage. Worse than imagined.
- Realize it’s time to repeat the whole fun-filled cycle.
My mother arrives in a couple of days. I wonder if she will prefer eating on the floor or standing over the kitchen counter?