November 28, 2010

Kate's Hall Table & A Lesson for Me

A couple of months back, I met Kate, who was the purchaser of this stool that I upcycled...
into this...
She happily took her new stool home, all the way to the other end of my street...turned out we are same-street neighbours :)

Anyway, she rang a couple of weeks back and said she had bought a table in a fierce bidding war an online auction, and the table wasn't quite what she was expecting (haven't we all had oopsies like that!).  The table that looked so elegant in the auction photos looked too 'nana-ish' for Kate, once she had it in her home.

Here is the table so you can see for yourself...
A nice looking table, but I thought it was pretty Nana-ish too.
It is also alot smaller and shorter than it might appear in photos.

So, I gave it the usual clean down with sugar soap and hot water, then coated it with Smooth Surface Sealer (my favourite waterborne adhesion primer).  I left it a couple of days to cure, then tested it to see if it was ready to top coat.  The sealer scratched right off!  Argh!  I left it another day, thinking this was odd, as we are in late spring, so the days were warm but not hot, and not at all humid, which can affect paint curing.  Next day, same problem, and I knew my stick-to-anything sealer wasn't going to stick, so I sanded it all off, down to bare wood.  It was then that I began to suspect that the wood had been contaminated with Nana's old faithful furniture polish.  So once I had sanded it right down to bare wood, I applied a white spirit 'grease and oil remover' all over it, before recoating it with Smooth Surface Sealer.  Left it overnight after a very warm day and then tested it the following day....and still the sealer scratched right off.

Here was when I felt like crying but instead I took a deep breath and sanded the sealer off.
Down to bare wood.
I hate sanding.

Then I went to my favourite paint shop where I explained my dilemma.  The lady confirmed that indeed, the table had been contaminated with oil and there is no way I could have known that, but luckily, she had what I needed which was Zinsser BIN, a shellac-based primer and sealer that cleans up in meths.  She explained that because the timber had oil in it, and so did the sealer, they would kind of work together and the sealer would stick...hallelujah!

She was right, it did stick, and thankfully even though this is an 'oil-based' product, you can still use a water-based paint over it.

So here is Kate's table, all finished...

I didn't take any photos of the in-between parts because the table looked terrible and I really didn't need a reminder.  Plus I didn't want Kate to see her table like that!

Now it is all finished...with a paint surface that isn't going to scratch off....phew!
I think that it turned out beautifully, 
and that I have succeeded in escorting Nana out of the building.
Best of all, Kate is thrilled with it - she said it had turned out better than she ever imagined it could, and the smile and relief on her face proved it...I had turned her auction disaster into something she was pleased to have in her home :)

This table I only distressed lightly - it is a delicate wee table so delicate distressing seemed to fit, plus I couldn't get any of the previous dark finish peeping through (which I often like to do) because I had to sand it all off.
(Yes that is a shadow of my hands taking the photo. LOL)
I am a better painter than I am a photographer, I promise!

Thanks, Kate, for giving me the opportunity to rescue your table, which gave me the chance to learn all about oil contamination and shellac-based primer!

Sharing this at
Furniture Feature Fridays
xx Karen


  1. What a drama you had with this piece Karen. Who would of thought it had oil on it at some point. Oh how we learn some things the hard way. But the end result is lovely and has turned the nana piece into something more modern day. Sandy xx

  2. Gosh I have had a few projects like this myself and it can be very frustrating. I'm glad the end result turned out so beautifully.


  3. It's a brilliant result Karen, even if it was a huge mission, you got there in the end. Thanks for sharing all your new found knowledge. They do say the best way to learn is through trial and error. Sonia :)

  4. Such a beautiful table and I love the paint with the small amount of distressing - perfect!

  5. That table looks amazing! Love the curvy top. Sometimes it takes a little trial and error to get the result you want. Great job! And that stool is super cute too!

  6. I love curvy legs like that, they are so pretty. I hate sanding too btw, and I have to run outside in the cold and wind to do it today and I'm not happy about it. :( I know we have different products here in the states but I've used an oil based primer (Kilz) under a latex based paint (usually Behr). It doesn't bubble or peal or anything which is good. Sorry you had such a debacle but you live and learn which is good!!! It turned out beautiful though, good job Karen!

  7. Good on you for hanging in there with this piece Karen. Obviously it was worth the effort as it looks fantastic.
    Looks like you're having some lovely end-of-Spring weather down there :o)

  8. that is so frustrating! ugh! but it was worth all the effort and turned outjust beautifully. and now you know what to do if it ever happens again. thank goodness for the local hardware peeps- they always know what they are talking about!

  9. your hard work paid off your neighbor took home a beautiful piece of furniture you did a great job

  10. It looks beautiful, Karen! All of your efforts and hard work really show. I encountered the same thing with a piece awhile back and put it aside and it's still sitting there. I got frustrated. Now I think after reading your process I am going to drag it out and tackle it! I love the lines to your sweet table.

  11. Wow, that's quite the roller coaster! Very interesting dilemma...It turned out gorgeous though.


  12. Way to go Karen for sticking it out with the table. Turned out really cute. I have used the BIN on a water stained ceiling and it worked great. Good stuff but smelly.

  13. Wow! It turned out beautifully! I can only imagine how frustrated you must have been!!!