My DIY Coffee Table Makeover - 5 Lessons Learned

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Home Improvement

LESSON #1: "Free" cost me about 3 weeks of tedious labor and $100.

I recently received a "free" coffee table I asked about in an alley behind a consignment store in Oakland. It was in pretty rough shape with a few cracks along the top and lots of scrapes and scratches, but overall a nice, heavy-duty piece of furniture. After stripping it, sanding it, and making several trips to Home Depot for more supplies, I spent upwards of $100 on stripper, scrapers, sandpaper, plastic wood, brushes, stains, poly urethane etc. I tested espressos and browns, which looked almost the same as it did in the first place. So I sanded and restarted no less that five times before finally decided on "Bombay Mahogany" which I really liked. The project was fun and educational, but more work than I bargained for.

LESSON #2: Keep dogs and dust away from poly urethane projects.

After settling on the "Bombay Mahogany" color, I began applying a fast-drying water-based poly urethane, which was another challenge. You have to apply it quickly in as few brush strokes as possible, and after the second coat, my dog Kiki, shook dry grass all over it. So I sanded it again...which was required between coats anyway, but Grrrr! The prospect of possibly having to start over (again) was devastating. 🤬 

LESSON # 3: Use plastic wood filler for cracks.

I also discovered plastic wood was best for filling the cracks after trying several putties and wax products, which kept shrinking and the cracks kept reappear. 😭 Also, be sure to color match your filler product to your natural wood color. Whatever you use should hold up to sanding, drilling, screws, and stains, just like wood. I used a light sand paper to remove most of the dark stain from the brass pulls, going for a scuffed look.

LESSON # 4: Carefully choose & test colors and finishes.

I was originally going for a distressed look so I didn't remove all of the old espresso color, which I wanted to bleed through. Unfortunately, choosing a "semi-gloss poly" finish made it more shiny and fancy, yet still beautiful. And I couldn't bare to sand it all off one more time. In retrospect, painting the dang thing would have covered any flaws better and been a lot easier in the long run.

LESSON # 5: Do what you love and love what you do!

Overall, I was happy with the end result. 😃 Amidst COVID-19 lockdowns and general boredom, I found this DIY project stress-reducing, and I especially enjoyed learning new techniques, while challenging myself to do something I hadn't done before--like working with fast drying poly urethane. As an original artist from Humboldt County, I have a natural love for trees, nature, and wood so it felt good keeping this table out of the landfill. In fact, when I'm not selling Real Estate or making music, you'll find me in the Redwoods hiking with my dog Kiki or camping. Working with wood and furniture restoration is relatively new for me, which despite its challenges, I thoroughly enjoyed.

My next (much easier) project in the works, is creating a live-edge fireplace mantel. Stay tuned!

If you have specific questions about my projects, feel free to call/text me at: 510-326-1119.

#DIY, #FurnatureRestoration, #RepurposedWood, #ReclaimedWood, #CoffeeTableMakeover

P.S. This is not an endorsement of Home Depot or any of the products shown or mentioned.