To poly or not to poly


This is our 30 year-old dining/kitchen table.  We are renovating our kitchen and have decided that this needs to go because it is very large, and even without the leaves, it takes up too much space.  I decided to strip the top with an eco-friendly stripper which has very few fumes but takes multiple applications ( 5 to be exact).  The pine table had a urethane coating over a golden colour stain.  After the coating was finally removed, I could not get out some streaks of stain even with a sander, so I had to apply multiple coats of bleach to lighten it, then sand it all to even it out.  Pine is very soft and the top was covered with dozens of nicks, children’s names etc but interestingly, the marks were all in the urethane.  Once that was removed, there was very little damage.  I wanted to make the top grey, like old barn board.  Instructions on how to oxidize wood can be found here.

I followed the steps and they do work.  The top was a nice mid-grey colour.  My real problem was how to protect it.  I could have used AS clear wax but I felt that that really wasn’t practical enough for something that I was going to sell.  Polyurethane was the most obvious choice since it is pretty indestructible but I have many misgivings about it.  It scratches, it clouds over time in spots and it is difficult to fix and remove.  Having spent so long stripping it, I didn’t want to reapply.  The other problem that I have with it is that it streaks when you apply it.  Sometimes, you don’t notice the streaks because they are disguised by the grain of the wood or the colour but I knew that I would see them on the grainless pine.  So, I opted for a hand-rubbed Danish oil finish.  It is easy to use, though smelly.  It will provide fair protection against water marks and you can sand the them out and reapply the oil if you had to.  Best of all, it is rather beautiful and not shiny.  However, it ruined my grey finish.  I should have guessed that it would do that since oil always brings up colour in wood.  The final product is deep walnut in colour, all achieved without stain.  I have no idea why the pine would turn that colour except that it must have been a reaction between the Danish oil and the oxidizing.  I painted the rest of the table and chairs in white chalk paint.  Anyone who has painted spindles knows that this is not a fun process.  Here are some pix.  The one with the coffee cup is the truest in colour since the overhead light created a gold distortion which isn’t actually there.


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Painting re-do’s

Sometimes you have to admit that your original choice of colour or paint is not working for other people.  I have used Miss Mustard Seed paint a few times and have never had the paint chip, even though I was painting over another finish.  This old wash stand, for instance, had an orangey varathane finish on it.  I used MMS Tricycle and expected to see chipping, which would have looked great.  However, it didn’t.  I used AS dark wax over the whole piece which created a lovely, deep red colour.  And, it sold right away. (click on photos to enlarge)

Red Washstand

Red Washstand


I thought I was on a roll with red.  When I purchased an old white night stand for next-to-nothing I thought I would try it again.  I knew the stand was nothing special but once I painted it with Tricycle I thought it looked pretty good.  The bonus was that it did chip revealing the old white paint underneath.  For an added kick, I painted the inside of the drawer in AS Emile.


I thought it was cute and would have looked great in a shabby decor.  Apparently, no one else did because I tried to sell it for 2 months at a very reasonable price but got no takers.  I don’t think it was the red but the chippiness that didn’t appeal to most people or maybe it was the 2 things together.

So, I re-did it, this time in an AS Florence/Provence mix which created  a true turquoise.  I took the original knob which was one of those brass flowers shaped ones that had been painted white and I glued one of my mother’s old 1960’s clip on earrings to it.  Of course, it sold right away for the same price that I was asking for the red version.  I don’t know what to conclude from this, although I will concede that it looks better in this version.  Perhaps, I was so carried away with the fact that it actually chipped that I couldn’t see it objectively.




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Glitter, Glue & Paint