Workshop table transformation underway

TableprojectmontageI’ve got plans set for transforming the workshop table on my patio. Thanks in part to the suggestions you offered here and here, this table won’t end up in a dump pile, but will live on. It’s an old work table my husband Bill built at some point, and it’s the perfect size to use as a buffet table for entertaining and an occasional work table for me.

My goal is to retain the workshop vibe of it, while cleaning it up and giving it an unexpected flair, which I’ll explain below. My plan is to:

1. Top: Sand the top of the table to reveal more of the plywood grain, and sand the legs and frame to clean them up a little. The sander I’m using is a nifty sander/vacuum combination. Some orbital sanders have a little bag on the end to collect the sawdust. This one is attached to a shop vac via a hose. When you squeeze the trigger on the sander, the vac goes on. Bill spent a lot of his life building things and he told me that earlier in life his body could process more dust. Now, though, if he doesn’t provide himself with serious dust protection (and this sander/vacuum combination is an example of that), he will find his head stuffed up in a hour or so.

2. Legs: Though the legs have some water damage, I’m going to leave them intact for now. I just don’t feel like replacing them. This isn’t the Taj Mahal. If the table turns out great, I can do that down the line. For now, I’ll use this clear Liquid Wood concoction to add strength where the wood has become weak and spongy.

3. Sealing: When the sanding is done and the legs are shored up, I’ll put several coats of water-based polyurethane all over. However, I won’t seal the bottom of the plywood top as I want to provide a way for moisture in the plywood to escape. As we found from using a moisture meter on the wood, the water content is very high. Rather than letting it sit in the sun to dry out for a week or so, I will be safe as long as I don’t seal the whole piece of wood. If I did seal the moisture in, the sealer would crack, flake and fail, as the force of water to go from a higher concentration (in the wood) to a lower concentration (in the air) is very strong.

4. Final flair: When that is all done, I will add the flair, which will come by way of this string of sample chips of laminates like you’d choose for a countertop or cabinet facing. I’ve had this colorful string of chips for years and have been trying to find a special place for them. I decided to glue them flat, side-by-side, onto the 2-by-4 frame just under the table top. The overhang of the table top will protect them from the weather, and I will see them often as I sit on the patio with my laptop.

So that’s my plan, and now it’s a matter of getting down to it.