I know that this is straying a bit from my typical DIY projects, but I was so floored by the result that I wanted to post about it. I’m not one of those people who scrounge around estate sales for super cool furniture that looks like crap and is priced at $2 only to refurbish it and make it the coolest thing ever. I wish. I have neither the patience nor the storage space to accomplish that kind of thing.
What I do have is an antique dining room set that’s been passed down through my family. Kinda. Since I come from a family of 5 robust kids, my grandma decide to purchase us a very sturdy dining room set. She was a fantastic garage sale shopper (read: hoarder) and I believe she purchased it at a garage sale for a song (not a literal song). Anyway, this set sat in our dining room my entire life and I never thought anything about it. Then one day an electrician came to the house and asked if it was an original [I cannot remember what he said now - it was like a million years ago]. I was all “huh?” I’m sure he thought I was an idiot. What I later found out is that there was an artist community just outside of Buffalo called the Roycroft and it seems as though this dining room set could have come from there. You can read all about the Roycroft here.
Fast-forward several years. Since I’m the youngest (aka the best), I was the last kid living at home when my dad made the decision to sell the house. So when I was moving out, he said to just take whatever furniture I could use because he’d have to sell/donate a lot of stuff anyway. I chose (among other things) the dining room set. To this day I rub that in my sisters’ faces. I had to live with my evil stepmother for more years than they did COMBINED! I earned that dining room set. In blood.
Fast-forward another couple of years and I get a phone call from one of my sisters telling me that she saw our exact dining room set in an antique store for…$10,000. WHA?????????? I mean, parts of the set had been peed on by dogs. More than once. The fact that it had the potential to be worth that much money was…weird. And scary. The buffet and side board were in great condition since they didn’t require any real use. They just sat there displaying things. The dining room table, though…it has seen its share of family dinners. Dinners where sweaty milk glasses left rings and people painted their nails, accidentally dropping polish. It had battle scars. But now I was worried to do anything to it. What if I ruined it? It didn’t help that my sisters were always dropping hints that they’d gladly take it off my hands at any time if I didn’t want it. I’d almost turn into this guy.
But in my daily tumble down the Pinterest hole, I found a few tutorials that talked about “refreshing” an old piece of furniture and not completely “refinishing.” Maybe that’s just semantics. But when things like sandpaper come out, I start to sweat. Even parts of the process I ended up doing made me sweat a bit, but by that time I was far too emotionally vested in this project.
BLAH, BLAH, BLAH. Here’s what you’ll need:
1. Danish Oil 2. Murphy’s Oil Soap 3. fine steel wool 4. Howard’s Feed -N- Wax (weird name, I know) and 5. elbow grease. HA! GET IT? It’s an elbow and grease. GOD I’m clever….
OK. First let me start by saying that Ryan didn’t want me to write any of the background information I wrote above. He pretty much wanted me to say “So, we found this table at a thrift store and…” Why? Because after seeing the after picture, we’re both amazed that we lived with a table that looked as TRASHED as this table looked initially. But we did. And I swear we’re not dirty people. So here goes nothing…this is the before:
WHAT WAS I THINKING?? I guess I just thought the finish was gone or something? I never thought that dirt and grime were baked into the table itself. I mean, I wipe the table! It’s clean on the surface. Good grief!! I just figured those glass rings were burned down into the wood.
OK. So here are the steps I took to rectify this sad situation:
Step 1: I mixed a little Murphy’s Oil Soap with warm water. I used about 3 tablespoons with a gallon(ish) of water. I say “ish” because I didn’t measure it or anything.
Step 2: I took the steel wool, dipped it in the oily water and start scrubbing that table. Of course, only with the grain. I wasn’t all “wax on wax off.” Also, make sure you have some rags handy so that you can mop up the water as you go along. You don’t want puddles of water sitting on the wood. Obvs. This is after about one minute of scrubbing (for serious):
BARF-A-DOODLE-DO!!! You’d think this thing was from the city dump! It’s DIS-GUST-ING!! Constantly having to change that dirty water gave me the energy to continue scrubbing my face off until it eventually looked liked this:
It was at this point that I started crapping my pants. I mean, the little scrubbing I had done had completely taken off whatever finish was there (probably very little since it’s over a hundred years old) and I thought my sisters would all fly out and kill me. I mean, I’m sure they really couldn’t care less, but that was the first thing that came to mind. I’m dead meat. But I decided to hold off on my panic attack until after I saw what it looked like with the Danish oil.
Step 3: Apply Danish oil. I just followed the directions on the can. Here it is all oiled up:
Amazing, right? Oh, and notice that all those rings are gone. GONE! But it’s still covered in the oil, so who knows what it’ll look like when I wipe that all off, right? It could go back to looking like a sad and dry mess.
Step 4: Wipe off excess Danish oil (per the directions on the can). Check this out:
AMAZING, right?! One more step!
Step 5: Apply Howard’s Feed-N-Wax (I get the wax part, but what’s with the feed part, you guys?). Again, I just followed the directions on the bottle.
Here’s a close-up of the wood.
It’s freaking amazing. It’s gorgeous! It was at this point that Ryan and I looked at the before and after pictures and were a little freaked. We were hoping that nobody left our place saying “You guys. Did you see that GROSS table? DO THEY EAT OFF THAT THING????” I mean, look at this again:
Oh, and if you’re interested in seeing another part of the “collection,” you can see the buffet in the Penny Wall post and here’s an even better picture. You’ll be able to see that I didn’t let ALL the furniture sit and rot. I swear.