Finishing School

After my coffee table base was refinished, I picked out some rustic reclaimed Alder at the lumberyard for the new top.  My thought was that if it were rough and gnarly to begin with, any mistakes I made with the finish would just look like more patina.  And the inevitable bumps and bangs it gets from use won't pain me at all.  Or so I hope.

I had it all glued up and was planing the surface of the boards before it occurred to me that I have never made a tabletop before.  The hand plane was in a box of tools that had belonged to my dad.  He wasn't a huge woodworker, but he loved tools like I love yarn.  His collection was epic, and included so many duplicates that my brother gave me a set when he inherited the stash.  When I adjusted the blade, there were tiny curls of mahogany still underneath it; probably from some boat project.  Dad's were the last hands to adjust that blade before mine.  It was a little like visiting him to hold the plane and push it against the wood.  I liked the way the plane on the hardwood made curly wood ribbons.

I don't know from whence this wood was reclaimed, but I think it's nice that it has its own past.  I like thinking about what the boards would say if they could talk. 

I sanded.  And I sanded.  And I sanded some more.  I moved the project inside when it rained.  I moved it out when it stopped.  The table and I have now been through a lot together, and we are both better for it.

Finishing 2.JPG

I left the boards a little bit "cupped" in places; I can feel a wee bit of the the curve of the planks when I run my hands over them.  I like being reminded that my table was once a tree.  And I was good and tired of sanding.  I stained the top a rich honey shade to highlight its irregularities.

Many thanks to Maria H. for reminding me about the olive oil and sugar paste for removing roughness on your hands when you work with silk - works like a charm!

I framed the edge of the tabletop with this sweet little carved moulding.  Makes it look like something a girl would make.  Which it is.  I varnished. And I sanded.  Again. And Again. 

And now I can work again.  Let the knitting commence.