Monday, March 25, 2013

When a Problem Comes Along...

I know, I know... I just couldn't help myself.  Strip it!  Strip it good!

Here's the sad thing about a lot of my "before" pictures--I really never planned on writing a blog.  I started this on a bit of a whim, and so I never made a habit of taking "before" shots of any of my Craigslist finds or whatnot prior to late February.  Case in point--my coffee table.  Here's a grainy mess of a before photo (without glass) that I just pulled off of Facebook because I actually deleted it from my camera.  The glass is currently living behind the dresser in my bedroom while I work on the base.

I had been in the market for a living room coffee table for probably a whole year before I found this guy.  Of course by, "in the market," I mean, "trolling Craigslist" pretty much exclusively.  I did not want to spend more than $100 on a coffee table, and let's face it, there really isn't anything available retail for under $100.

And then one crappy January morning I noticed this awesome X table with a glass top while browsing Craigslist on my phone.  It was love at first sight.  I knew I wanted a glass top, but I had been imagining a metal base. THIS table, with its chunky wood base, was even better than the coffee table I had in my head.  I love it when that happens.  I couldn't be sure of the size since it wasn't mentioned in the ad, and I needed something pretty big.  I figured it was probably half of what I needed--because at least 50% of the things I get excited about on Craigslist turn out to be total fails--but emailed the seller for specifics and nearly died when they came back with the dimensions: 36 x 56.  Perfectly gigantic!  I asked if they would hold it for me, but they refused, so...

I may have just gotten in the car, on a work day, and high tailed it to the south shore to retrieve my baby.  (To be fair, in three years of working from home, I probably took a sum total of 10 actual lunch breaks.  I contend I was perfectly entitled to at least one mid-morning emergency Craigslist run.)  This was one of my more disturbing Craigslist retrievals to date.  It came from what was essentially a pawn shop in a very sketchy neighborhood adjacent to the LIRR tracks in a town I'd never been to before.  There were several extremely agitated, unsavory characters present who were arguing vociferously with a shop employee that their laptop (whose password, of course, they did not know) simply *had* to be worth at least $100, because that's the exact amount of "the prescription that our doctor just wrote this morning.  It's very important that we get our medication!"  Yes, "medication."  Ick.  The table was $75, and in an effort to expedite the process I did not haggle.  I couldn't get out of there fast enough.

The table was solid but the finish was in pretty poor condition.  There were scratches, gouges and chips--more than a touch-up pen or a little Restore-A-Finish could handle--so I was left with only one choice:  STRIP IT!

Even though it's practically April, it still feels like winter here, so using something hardcore outdoors or in the garage was not an option.  That left me with CitriStrip.  I like CitriStrip.  It doesn't have a "chemical" odor (although the vaguely citrus-y odor it does have still leaves me totally nauseous), and although it says to use gloves and all, I never do, and it doesn't burn or otherwise bother my skin whatsoever.  You might want to be more careful with it, however.  Do as I say, not as I do!  The Chef Boyardee can is for decanting stripper--not eating.  Although yes, I do feed my kids that crap.  I have fond memories of eating Beefaroni as a kid; I will not deny my children that occasional pleasure.

Because I didn't want to have to move this beast anywhere, I stripped it right in my living room.  I did use a tarp to protect the rug.  CitriStrip Gel is seriously goopy.  There is really no risk of this stuff spattering on adjacent items.  Process is as follows:  paint it on, wait at least 30 minutes, scrape it off (with something plastic so you don't scratch your piece).  Use an embarrassing amount of paper towels.  And that's pretty much it.

Either I didn't lay it on thick enough, or the finish was extra thick... but this table required two rounds of stripper application/scraping to get all of the finish off.  I also did it in two positions--right side up, and upside down.  So in total, this ended up requiring four rounds of work.  Not fun, but so worth it!  Look at how much better this looks naked!

Next up--sanding, staining, and sealing this bad boy to perfection.  But you'll have to wait for another post for that part.  There are only so many hours in a weekend.  Plus, this week is Spring Break, so the demands of the short ones are going to trump any refinishing goals I might have.  Children are so high maintenance!  Stay tuned for Part 2...

1 comment:

  1. Hi! I found your blog today - you were in a directory of blogs on Effortless Style. I am in NY (Suffolk County too). I enjoyed reading your Craigslist adventures (been there!). Loved your watercolor painting, visiit back to Chicago and your trip to the Botanical Gardens so far.

    Love your writing style as well!