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Antique table refurb

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Project by RS Woodworks posted 10-03-2011 05:13 AM 1687 views 4 times favorited 13 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A friend of mine from work asked me if I could fix up an old table of theirs that had seen better days. The table was built by my friends wifes grandfather at least 40 years ago. The top was made up of 4 wide pine planks and edged all around with pine as well. The edging on the ends was glues and screwed on, and there were additional oak strips on the underside of the table glued and screwed across the width of the top (about 44” wide). Basically, everything was built to PREVENT wood movement, which had fairly disastrous results to the top.
I didn’t take before pictures (wish I would have) but the top had several large splits and cracks in it, and had bent up in several places. The crack in the middle was easily wide enough to drop your fork right through the top and down to the floor. Essentially the wood had done its seasonal moving despite the original builders best attempts to prevent it. You just can’t stop the force of nature! Also, the finish that had been used on the table top was done pretty poorly and there were pools of dryed finish along the trim and uneven edges of the top.

I started the refurbishment by removing all the trim. The screws used had large heads that were countersunk so far that when I backed them out, the trim split and broke badly. Clearly, the trim would not be suitable to be re-used. With the trim off, I cut the top along the original joint lines, giving me the 4 wide planks that made up the top. I ensured to mark them so that I could orient them the same way once put back together. I then planed the oak strips off the underside of the boards, and then carefully planed just enough of the finish off the boards. I had to be careful as the boards were only about 15/16” to start. I was able to salvage about 7/8”, so I planed a very minimal amount off.

Now I’m not normally much of a fan of pine, but this pine is pretty darn nice! Once I had the board faces flattened, I did the edges. I used clamps and CA glue to fix a few of the more minor cracks that were in the middle of the boards. Once I was satisfied with the cracks now repaired, I reglued the top back together, using cauls to ensure flatness.

I decided (with my friends permission) to use a dark wood to trim the table top, instead of pine again. It gives the table a bit more of a refined look and it also matches their existing dining room chairs. I chose Peruvian Walnut (Nogal) for the trim. This wood is darker and more consistent in color than american black walnut, and has a grain structure much more similar to mahogany. Its a beautiful wood and a joy to work with. I used breadboard ends to allow for wood movement, to prevent the same issues from happening again with this table top. It was all finished with numerous coats of wipe on poly and rubbed out with paste wax. The top is now perfectly flat and smooth, and free of cracks.
My friend and his wife loved the new top. I teased my friend that he’s gonna want me to build a new base for this table next… we will see.

Thanks for looking.

Ryan

-- I restore the finest vintage tools! If you need a nice plane, saw, marking tool or brace, please let me know!





13 comments so far

View CalgaryGeoff's profile

CalgaryGeoff

937 posts in 1177 days


#1 posted 10-03-2011 05:37 AM

Great looking table. Good job and the pine does look good.

-- If you believe you can or can not do a thing, you are correct.

View superstretch's profile

superstretch

1506 posts in 1389 days


#2 posted 10-03-2011 05:50 AM

Very nice table.. I can’t be the only one thinking that that pine looks a lot like chestnut..

-- Dan, Rochester, NY

View Hallmark's profile

Hallmark

432 posts in 1802 days


#3 posted 10-03-2011 05:51 AM

Nice work, that came out great. I love the black trim to match the chairs.

-- Style is simple, but not my execution of it.

View Blake Thornton's profile

Blake Thornton

152 posts in 1337 days


#4 posted 10-03-2011 06:08 AM

what a beautiful refurb… the walnut trim is a fantastic touch

View amagineer's profile

amagineer

1389 posts in 1293 days


#5 posted 10-03-2011 12:34 PM

You have restored nature back to it original beauty. Great job! You must have felt great when it was finished, nice chose of trim wood.

-- Flaws are only in the eye of the artisan!

View MadJester's profile

MadJester

362 posts in 1126 days


#6 posted 10-03-2011 01:26 PM

You did an amazing job! I’ve been doing refinishing for over twenty years, but with no background in constructing furniture, I might have passed over the re-do on this one….amazing save!!!

-- Sue (Susan) Mad Jester Woodworks, "Not what I have, but what I do is my kingdom" Thomas Carlyle

View RS Woodworks's profile

RS Woodworks

464 posts in 1947 days


#7 posted 10-03-2011 04:37 PM

Thanks very much for the comments.
Dan, it’s certainly not chestnut, this is just real nice pine.
Susan, thanks for the compliment. I could definitely have seen why some people wouldn’t bother with a refurb on this one, but it was important to their family to keep it and make it nice again.
It definitely felt good to finish it.

I’m trying to get a few “before” photo’s from my friend.

-- I restore the finest vintage tools! If you need a nice plane, saw, marking tool or brace, please let me know!

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

10087 posts in 1314 days


#8 posted 10-03-2011 08:42 PM

Very nice, Ryan, and excellent work in particular w/ the finish. Curious as to how much table top end grain is tucked into the breadboard walnut? And how are the endcaps attached to the pine? (looking for dowels or pins, don’t see any)

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View Jacob Lucas's profile

Jacob Lucas

100 posts in 1128 days


#9 posted 10-03-2011 09:29 PM

That trim sets it all off, the two contrasting colors look great together! Thanks for posting!

View RS Woodworks's profile

RS Woodworks

464 posts in 1947 days


#10 posted 10-04-2011 03:42 AM

Thanks guys. Smitty, There is 1” of the tables end hidden into the nogal trim. And the endcaps are indeed held on by drawbored walnut dowels. They are visible when you look closely, but barely. They hid well.

Ryan

-- I restore the finest vintage tools! If you need a nice plane, saw, marking tool or brace, please let me know!

View Howie's profile

Howie

2656 posts in 1619 days


#11 posted 10-04-2011 02:47 PM

Just another example of using what some call sub grade wood to make a beautiful project. Fine job,looks great!
I have a feeling if lumber keeps going up(what doesn’t) we will see more and more pine and poplar projects in the future.

-- Life is good.

View Smitty_Cabinetshop's profile

Smitty_Cabinetshop

10087 posts in 1314 days


#12 posted 10-04-2011 02:51 PM

Ryan – Simply excellent!

-- Don't anthropomorphize your handplanes. They hate it when you do that. -- OldTools Archive

View grizzman's profile

grizzman

7109 posts in 1999 days


#13 posted 05-11-2012 07:13 PM

well you did a great job on the table,its some really nice looking pine, and putting the hardwood edge was a good thing, it will hold up better from being bumped and so on, and it add a nice contrast, really nice refinish job, maybe you will get to make a new leg system…i know from this you would do a great job…grizz

-- GRIZZMAN ...[''''']

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