Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Purchase in Haste, Repent at Leisure

You know it and I know it.  Don't buy something when you are in a rush.  And never buy covered furniture.  I remember my mom telling me a story about her brother who bought a horse at auction with the saddle on.  When he got it home there was something terrible wrong with the horse's back.  So he took it back to auction and sold it to some other sucker.  This time I am the sucker.


I popped into a local antique shop and saw a little table.  It was just the right size and I liked the legs.  They were not the usual thing.  It had a bunch of things on top and the lady in the store assured me there were no cracks or anything hidden under the lamp and other bits and pieces.  The store was crowded and I was on my way somewhere else, so I paid for the table and arranged to pick it up later.


The  table was knotty pine and someone had fixed the top issues by sanding divots into it.  The worse part was the table was not level.  At all.  Not even close.  That alone was a table killer.  I wanted it for a lamp.  I'm not fond of shabby chic, so I didn't want to leave it terrible and just prop up a leg...or two.


First I sanded like crazy and filled the worst of the divots. 


Then I realized there was a major crack going on.  I had to glue and clamp the crack.  Then I had to glue and clamp the legs.  A few of the legs were no longer glued in and they were pulling away from the table. I hoped to fix the level issue by fixing the legs.  Oh. There is the problem.  The holes for the dowels that held the legs were drilled every which way and there was no way to level this table.


At this point I wanted to throw this horrible little table in the burn pile.  It was not even cheap.  Just cheaply made!

I don't seem to be able to give up and stop throwing good money after bad.  I might as well invest even MORE money and time before I burn this piece of cra  junk.  I'm wanting an axe or a sledgehammer right about now.


But, no.  More sanding and now I go buy some spray paint.  I am not going to try and stain or brush on paint for this table.


I try to address the uneven table top and start using this wedges of wood from wood shims to cut and glue to the bottom of various legs.  In order to get the top level and keep it from wobbling, I had to cut three different thicknesses of wood and glue them on three different legs.  One was so thick I had to sand and paint it to make it a part of the leg and keep it from being too noticeable.

WHY am I spending this time on a table I hate?  I don't know.  I'm asking YOU.  There must be some deep psychological reason for this insanity.

While this was going on an auction came up at a local consignment and auction house, Crowning Touch. I was able to get what they called a Duncan Phyfe Mahogany Drum Table.  I know it is a drum table, but with my current luck in furniture purchasing, who knows about the rest.


I got it for 1/3 less than the junk table.  It did have about one quarter of the top that had the finish burned off and a few scratches.  Lesson to furniture owners out there.  Don't put them in the full sun and then never oil  your nice pieces!

I bought some lacquer thinner and did a quick strip.  I got tired of buying Homer Formsby and spending day on refinishing a piece.  This did take quite a bit of color off and I used some of the dark cherry stain I had left over from another project.  I bought a can of spray lacquer and gave it two coats.  On the third coat the spray started spitting and the lacquer came out uneven.  Back to the store for one more can.


All that and it was still way less of a chore than the stupid pine table.  Look how pretty and it took maybe three hours or stripping, sanding and painting, not counting driving!


After all the expenses I bet the pine table cost twice what the drum table ended up costing.  I refuse to put it in the basement for the B&B.  I ended up putting it in our bonus room to set a lamp on. 


Which one would you prefer?  No question, right?

Here is my biggest fear.  When we die the kids will fight over this piece of junk table because if I spent so much time working on it, it must mean something to me.  And the beautiful drum table will go back to the auction.


  1. My personal vote is for the drum table. That said, the crap table turned out to not look so bad...just saying.

  2. I love your admirable skills in furniture re-finishing! And I bet you could MAKE either of those tables from scratch and it would look amazing.