I was so reluctant to start this part of the project that I took about a four week hiatus between finishing the table top and starting the pedestal. My reluctance was well-founded. The grooves and rounded feet of the pedestal made it 5x more difficult to strip than the relative ease of the tabletop (including the beveled edge and skirt). After letting the gel stripper sit for 25 minutes (Achievement Unlocked: Superhuman Patience), I used my flat-bladed putty knife on the flat planes and 3M Scotch-Brite abrasive pads to clean around the contours. The latter technique takes some elbow grease and, at least initially, the paint and primer smears into a scary, gray sludge that spreads everywhere and makes you think your work is ruined. As you keep scrubbing, though, the stripper/paint/primer mixture starts to bead up and fall off.
Here are pictures from 3 hours (2 rounds of stripping) and 6 hours (3.5 rounds of stripping):
What’s wrong with the picture at right? I’m not wearing safety goggles. I have gotten stripper on just about every limb at some point or another, but it never occurred to me to worry that it might get thrown into my eyes. Unfortunately, this happened over the weekend while I was vigorously dabbing stripper into the rings of the pedestal. Once I realized what had happened (thoughts: “oh wow that’s cold … maybe it’s not going to hurt … oh NO, IT DOES! IT DOES!!”), I dashed inside the house and approximated a chemistry class-style eyewash. My eyeball felt bruised, it hurt to blink, and my eyelid peeled three days later. So yeah, if you do this at home, be sure to wear goggles!
I had heard great things about the product Strip-eeze, but our Home Depot doesn’t carry it. Instead, I bought the same orange can of stripper I bought last time. For those of you following along at home in hopes of repeating this process (really? maybe you should go back and read the first post in this series), at this stage I had available:
- 1 can Klean-Strip gel stripper (orange can)
- 1 pair gloves made out of stuff I hoped wouldn’t disintegrate when exposed to stripper
- 1 metal paint pan
- 1 paint brush for applying stripper
- 1 metal-bladed putty knife
- Sand paper, coarse and fine
- 1 electric hand sander (the kind that let’s you cut rectangles of sandpaper to fit)
- 1 can mineral spirits (used to rub down the furniture after it’s been stripped and sanded)
- 1 tarp (to protect my work surface)
- 3M Scotch-Brite abrasive pads
We have been very fortunate to have inherited a lot of great furniture from Chad’s mother over the years, including a solid oak table and chairs that Chad claims was “the only table I ever ate at [growing up]!” The table itself is well made but I once felt its style ran too far toward “country” with its spindly arrow back chairs. I saw great potential in the table itself, however, since its style matched the style of 70% of the tables being sold at Pottery Barn at the time with the unfortunate exception of a natural oak finish. The aforementioned on-trend tables were all painted some variation of distressed black, and I became obsessed with the idea of refinishing my farmhouse table and chairs.
Because of Chad’s attachment, I thought it best to wait until he was out of town for a conference to tackle this project. I still remember standing in the checkout line at Home Depot, beaming from ear to ear with a basket full of supplies. An older gentleman tapped me on the shoulder to ask me what kind of project I was undertaking, no doubt taking in the can of paint stripper and assorted refinishing supplies. I explained that I was refinishing my kitchen table, and he very kindly told me that he would recommend against the can of paint I’d picked out: a gloss black enamel. I thanked him for his advice and paid for my purchases, hoping he wouldn’t notice I wasn’t heeding his advice.
I spent the next five autumn evenings out on our apartment balcony, stripping, sanding, and priming the table. I diligently followed every step to the letter, pouring elbow grease and excitement into my project. I couldn’t wait to show the final result to my husband who, so awed by its beauty and my frugalness (ignoring the $100+ I spent on supplies), would finally agreed to get rid of any number of items he’d been thus far unwilling to part with. But when it finally came time to paint the primed table, I knew I was in trouble. The paint was gloppy, uneven, and … shiny. I had seriously underestimated the gloss level of gloss paint. I was so dismayed by the way the paint looked on the table top that I didn’t even bother to paint the primed table leaves or the table skirt. So for the past eight years, I’ve suffered a self-inflicted panda table whose presence could only be tolerated thanks to a series of tablecloths.
I’ve never felt right about replacing the table since it was structurally sound. But I was too discouraged by the failure that resulted from my over-exuberance (and an unwillingness to listen to the guy who tried to warn me about my paint choice) to try again. It was once we moved into our new home with a highly visible breakfast area that I decided I wasn’t going to let fifty pounds of solid oak (and at least five pounds of drippy black enamel) defeat me.