There are so many wonderful programmes and people that champion the art of upcycling. Some create absolutely wild and wonderful things, and others stick more to the traditional route. I have been shooting in-between both for a few years now. Quite often a piece of furniture will tell you what it wants! The small desk table above was my first salvages. Totally destined for the bin it was covered in dark dark varnish, had scratched graffiti all over the sides and the worst… Chewing gum underneath!
I noticed it at a local auction house, and no one bid on it, so I took it before they tipped it. Now, you would think I’d do a bit of research, see what tools I’d need, how to make it easier on myself… But no. I had my elbows and I had some sand paper, and boy did I go for it.
Now, tips I can tell you now. Buy a sander!!! Hehehe, ok, if this is just a one off attempt then keep on with the elbow grease, but I seriously recommend a sander. I’ve ended up buying a mouse sander as you can use the tip to get into some of the nooks and tight spots with the tip (I recommend a Good Black and Decker brand, one with a dust extractor is a great idea! So much dust! https://amzn.to/32UNVmY )
Also get some face masks! Most of us have masks now anyway, and know how to make them, so there is absolutely no excuses! Even manual sanding can be dangerous to the lungs, even in a well ventilated space. You never know what the old varnishes have in it too, so keep safe! And please, if you’re going to start gouging out bits of wood get yourself some eye protection too.
Anyway, enough of mother Adora telling you to be safe! After 7-8 hours of sanding over three days my desk table turned out stunning! Such beautiful wood under all that gunk and goo.
Now, I did think about filling the crack in the top, but I just loved the fact that it was an honest piece of furniture, it has been round for years so why not show that? No a days I may have done a ‘Jay Blades’** and painted it a bit funky, but at the time I was more chuffed I salvaged a beautiful piece of furniture. So I got some clear wood varnish and finished her off.
After popping it on Facebook I got contacted by a local pub who was interested in buying it, and we came to a deal of £40 and a pint. Now, if you think about it the hours worked to money ratio is shockingly bad. But it ended up paying for a mouse sander and the varnish, so to me it’s paid for free tools so the next project will be cheaper to try. I always try and make my hobbies pay for themselves somehow, it’s an achievement.
So, will you go skip diving and bring an ugly piece of furniture back to life? These old pieces last way longer than any Ikea pieces, and remember you can always paint them to go with your vibe!
So now this desk table sits pride of place in the Hope and Anchor in Wokingham, and I try to put a pint on it when I’m in the area (though it does tend to see a few feet too being it’s just the right height to become a foot stool!)
Shopping list Links to things I’ve mentioned (they are affiliate links, if you do buy something I will get a tiny payment that will help pay for this website, so thank you in advance)
Mouse Sander! BLACK+DECKER Mouse Detail Sander, Compact Detail – https://amzn.to/3kI65yz
Dust Masks – Honeywell Nuisance Disposable Dust Mask, Box of 50 – https://amzn.to/3963nAT
Eye Protection – G & F 13016-6 EyePRO Scratch, Impact & Ballistic Resistant Safety Goggles with Clear Lens https://amzn.to/32TlaXX
Sandpaper – 3M 9019 General Purpose Sandpaper – https://amzn.to/2IMpUHZ
** Just realised that people outside the UK probably have no idea who Jay Blades is! There is a BBC programme called Money For Nothing where they go to the dump and save things from going to landfill, then create cool upcycled items, Jay has a wild time and often creates vibrant pieces! This is his website for inspiration! https://jayand.co/