One of the things I love about refinishing old furniture is that every project is unique. While you may find pieces of similar style and age, each one has had a different life and therefore brings new possibilities and new challenges to its restoration.
I like to think I learn something new with every project. Sometimes, I learn a new tip or trick that helps me transform a piece. Sometimes I learn something about myself in the process. Sometimes both!
These twin tables were no exception. One of them was listed on Facebook Marketplace for $15. I thought it would be perfect beside an overstuffed chair and it had great details that would really pop with some antique finishing. When I went to pick it up, the owner told me there were actually two matching tables and I could have both for $20 because one was broken. You already know I have a soft spot for sad furniture, so I grabbed them both!
One of the things that makes these tables beautiful is that the legs are slender and tapered. You can see in the photo that one of the legs was snapped in two. I had no idea if I could mend it well enough to stand up to a strong cup of coffee being placed on it. I tried to channel my very handy Father and think “what would Daddy do?”
I didn’t think glue alone would be enough and I didn’t want to try to put nails or screws into such a dainty piece. So, I hightailed it down to the hardware store and bought a dowel about half the diameter of the leg where it was broken. Placing each piece into a vice, I carefully drilled about an inch into each. Then I used wood glue and a 2-inch piece of the dowel to join the two pieces together.
Because I was just eyeballing when I drilled the holes, it didn’t line up exactly, but it was pretty darn close! If I had a fancy drill press I could have done a better job, but overall I was pleased. I used some wood putty to fill the gaps and you could hardly tell it had been broken. After the paint went on, even I can’t tell which table is which unless I look closely.
Now they sit at opposite ends of my sofa and they work great in my small home because they don’t take up a lot of room.
So, what did I learn? Aside from the whole dowel drilling and gluing thing, I learned to trust that I am capable of doing small repairs and doing them well. The real trick is knowing my limitations and when to call a professional. I like that I am a do-it-myself person, but there’s no shame in asking for help when I need it.
What challenges have you faced while refinishing a piece? How did it work out? Let me know in the comments or send me an email. I’d love to hear from you!