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Archives for : November2015

From $5 Find to Rich Focal Piece

Facelift Upcycling

Welcome to another installment of Facelift Upcycling from one of our designers. Please view our other projects for more ideas.


One of designers here at DMO has a husband who loves the thrill of finding at deal while garage sale-ing, and on one said occasion, he came across a steal of a deal on a vintage drafting table. All the pieces were intact and the hardware, though rusty, were fully functional and very charming. And can you believe it, he picked it up for only $5.

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Well needless to say, it needed a facelift. The legs were worn through years of kicking (and maybe even as a cat scratching post). The top had 20-year-old masking tape permanently adhered to the surface and was dinged and gnarled. But that didn’t matter, our designer fell in love with the piece and knew right where she wanted to put it, after a couple changes of course 🙂

Because of the tape and dings on the top, the surface had to be sanded down to the raw wood. First our designer hand scraped and filed the old masking tape off (simply sanding a material such as tape will gum up your sandpaper very quickly, so it is best to remove this in another manner first). Then she used a radial sander starting with a very coarse grit of 80 to flatten out the surface and remove the old varnish and stains. Then she went over the surface (and edges) with finer and finer paper until the raw wood was exposed and fully smoothed out. (When completing a project like this, going down to fine grit, usually 220, sandpaper allows for the smoothest surface; however, if you are finding dings that cannot be sanded without taking the wood too far down, then find a good wood putty and fill in the ding before sanding with the finer grits and smoothing the surface)

After pulling the table apart (the vintage hardware actually allowed for very easy dismantling of most of the pieces), our designer lightly hand sanded the other components. Now with this particular piece, on one of the visible components there was a manufacturing stamp from the original furniture maker. Our designer took note of this and knew that if this stamp was damaged, the value of the piece would greatly diminish. That being said she paid very particular attention to not sand over or too close to the stamp, and she knew that she would have to use a surface stain rather than a penetrating stain. (Penetrating stains bleed into the wood and require a fully sanded, raw surface. They are generally applied with a brush or a rag and the excess of each application must be wiped off with a rag. They also need a coat of sealer such as polyurethane after the surface is stained. Surface stains are applied over the surface using a brush and can be applied to previously stained or varnished pieces so long as a light sanding has been completed to ensure adhesion. Surface stains can also be purchased with a polyurethane mixture making it unnecessary to cover the piece again with a sealer)) When choosing a stain color, our designer wanted something that would work well with the dark floor that she would be putting it on, so she went with a dark walnut color.

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After the stain was cured, our designer was thrilled with the outcome. She was able to take her husband’s $5 garage sale find and turn it into a rich focal piece by repairing the damage, darkening the wood to fit in her room and still leaving the charm of the vintage piece intact.