Staining For Dummies {The Saga Continues}

I recently updated you on my epic failure that was staining the coffee table from our living room.

Remember this streaky sucker?

After laughing at myself for making such a silly mistake (never skip steps!), I decided to try again. Since I had such luck with the sander on the side table, I decided to attack the coffee table head on. I pulled it outside and began sanding it with the electric sander (thanks Jo!). Unfortunately, to my dismay and HORROR, that Minwax Polyshades really stuck to the coffee table. I mean, I was mortified. Not only did it not sand down, it turned grey in some spots that I hit with the sander. When I hand sanded it, it RIPPED APART the sand paper. This I’m not exaggerating. The sandpaper was shredded. What on Earth is Polyshades made of? Titanium?

So I decided to take a step back and regroup. I still had some nasty gel stripper from a previous project, so I figured I could try that next. After following ALL the directions and applying a liberal amount of stripper to the top of the coffee table, I waited the 10 minutes to see what would happen. Enter Ashley in hysterics again. Not only did it not really strip the stain (when using a putty knife) but it started crackling and streaking the stain. What. on. Earth.

This coffee table is the coffee table from h-e-DOUBLE HOCKEY STICKS! Add to the hysterical feelings of not getting it right, and I hate not getting things done quickly, was the fact that this is a piece of furniture from my great grandparents. Just go ahead and ratchet up the emotional, end-of-the-world scenarios going on in my head. I ruined a classic piece of furniture! A family heirloom! So needless to say, I was desperate. I starred at the coffee table for a while, cursing myself for even starting the project, and decided to go back to hacking away at it with the putty knife. I was finally able to make some headway on the edges and peel off the Polyshades, but nothing on the top. I had to take a cool down and regroup.

I left it alone, letting the guilt and frustration linger in my head while I stained our new loveseat. We were able to score a Lillberg IKEA loveseat for free (typically $200ish) but it was birch.

See? Birch-ish wood. And the matching side table. That doesn’t match anything else.

I was happy to find that whoever owned it before had already begun sanding it down, so I only had some pieces here and there to sand the glossy finish off of it. I also sanded down the side table and started staining that piece as my “tester.” The loveseat quickly took the stain and after one (not so quick) coat, was finished and waiting to dry. There were an awful lot of nooks and crannies on that sucker. The side table also only took one coat, but is a bit streaky. But hey, it was free and now it kind of matches the rest of the furniture in that room.

Stained and drying outside. Our neighbors must LOVE that I do all of these projects in our backyard.

The finished, stained loveseat. Ignore the cushions. The new covers, which were supposed to arrive today, are a bit darker blue. The shade is “Pacific blue.”

So I accomplished one thing and still had a bit of time before I was expected anywhere else. Might as well try at the coffee table again, right? So I decided that maybe, just maybe, the gel stripper at least weakened the titanium beast that is Mixwax Polyshades. Fortunately, I was somewhat right. I was able to sand down a majority of the coffee table (all sides, legs, drawer) with a bit more ease. The top of the table took some extra attention and even after a lot of time and energy, I still never got all of that stuff off. But I figured I had cleared the way to stain. After wiping down the piece and making sure it was clean and ready, I got to staining. Boy does it look better. So much more mocha/kona than reddish/orange.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHH! That’s the sound of a choir of angels singing, just so you know.

And, yes, I know it looks a little dark. But truthfully, I think I’m just happy that it’s done! It does look great next to the side table I finished earlier and showed you in the sneak peek.

Living room update is coming together! Ignore the plastic bag. It started to rain and the stain on the feet of the coffee table wasn’t totally dry. Didn’t want a stain blob on our hardwood floors.

The tones in the wood really go well together, I think. I just have one more side table that I’m going to try and tackle tomorrow. That way, once all three pieces are done, I can poly them all together. Not looking forward to that smell! But PHEW for being done with staining that coffee table. What a pain in my butt!




PS-I went back to the treasure hunting spot. The little red owl was gone, as was many of the other things I posted about, but I did score an AWESOME 30th birthday present for my brother. So, SCORE!


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