At the urging of SWMBO, I agreed to refinish a small table
for a friend of hers, with the caveat that I wouldn't touch
it if it contained any plastic, MDF or particle board.
The table shows up a few days later, it is a roughly
mission style, with a white painted skirt, legs and frame,
a piney wood top coated to look like someones idea of maple.
Approximate new retail cost of about $20.
I would think if I ask someone to refinish a table pro bono,
that it wouldn't be too much trouble for it to arrive
clean, but it showed up with dirt, grime, cobwebs and all.
I removed the top, scrubbed the frame clean and noticed
that one of the bottom rails is cracked.
When I attempted to spread the crack a little to work some
glue in, I finished snapping it into, good, now I can glue it
properly, three bessie clamps later it is fairly straight
and well clamped.
Now for the top, it is only 16 x 30 and the finish appears
quite hard, so I'm planning to sand the finish off.
The stuff will clog up 80 grit paper almost instantly,
finally cleared about 2 square inches down to bare wood
after changing the paper in the palm sander 4 times.
This isn't working, I get out the heat gun and bring the
surface to near charring temp, the finish doesn't budge.
I don't have any of nailshooters high powered strippers
but I do have a can of kleenstrip, I apply it liberally
and it beads on the surface like water on a freshly
waxed car, it won't even stick to it, much less
dissolve the finish.
Time to quite fooling around, I get a cabinet scraper
and scrap the crap off, it is at this time, I see the
red blothes on the top and it occured to me that some
where in Taiwan there is a chemical coating engineer
that devised a finish that is impervious to all known
solvents, heat and abrasion that will freely pass
unknown red stuff to dye the surface underneath,
he is a genius.
Remove clamps from broken rail and sand down joint,
the reason for the break becomes obvious, there is a knot
that takes up the entire piece, apparently asian
furniture companies never cull anything.
Not willing to let well enough alone, I decided that
putting a metal tie plate under the rail will
reinforce the joint and possibly prevent it breaking
again. I'm putting the last screw in the tie plate
and it pops a hunk out of the knot. I bondo the hole
and resand the break. Doesn't look too awful for
something that will be painted.
I turn my attention to the red spots thinking that
possibly they can be lifted with solvent.
Mineral spirits, lacquer thinner, denatured alcohol,
acetone, naptha, methly ethly ketone nor
1,1,1 trichloroethane have any noticable effect.
After exposing myself to most of the chemicals
known to the State of California to cause cancer, I
decide to stain the top a red mahoghany, hopefully
hiding the spots.
Top is finished both sides with 4 coats of rattle can
shellac, looks good, and you can't find the red spots
unless you hunt for them.
Frame is hit lightly with 240 grit and sprayed white.
SWMBO comes around and says that the tables intended
use is a kitchen roll around, I point out that said table
doesn't have castors and that shellac isn't the best
finish for kitchen use, my objections are dismissed,
family harmony is in doubt, I needed to go to the blue
Cheap castors only come in three packs, marketing
brilliance at its best, I can't wait to make that
two legged, roll around stool, I always wanted.
Put two coats of polyurethane on the top for durabilty.
Drill holes for castors in legs, while installing the
second castor a three inch long wedge of knot snaps off
the bottom of the leg, really the Asians cull nothing.
With the extra height of the castors, no one is going
to miss three inches off the legs, remove the first
castor and saw all the legs off three inches, redrill
Affixing the top and castors went without any more
Happy wife, happy friend of wife, I think in the future
I will suggest throwing table away, going out to eat
with a stop at wally world to purchase any kind of
table they would like. Easier, less stressful and