A key part of getting ahead is never resting on your laurels. Now that the bathroom is done its time that I start focusing on improving myself by picking up another skill – preferably one that actually makes me money. As it just so happens, an opportunity arose that I couldn’t pass up. Every year my city holds a garbage pick-up, where residents can throw their clutter to the curb for the local garbage companies to take away. Ostensibly the city does this to discourage hoarders from accumulating so much stuff that their homes become fire traps, but truly it’s because the event is super popular. People now travel from all over the metro area to pick through the debris for things to reuse and recycle.
It was witnessing this behavior while out for a walk that I realized that I had a perfect chance to practice refinishing furniture at virtually no cost to myself. What better way to learn how to strategically tear apart and rebuild something than with free materials you don’t care about? It’s not like it was MY good stuff. If I was lucky, I could even sell the finished product online and make enough money to cover all my materials and more. Perhaps it could even be turned into a side business! I know a guy who refurbishes golf carts and it made him $8k a year when he was active.
I then went online and did research on the subject. Turns out, the most critical element of the skill is having the right starting piece. The furniture should be made of real wood and not MDF with veneer facing. Veneer can crack, it’s a pain to repair, and any sanding will reveal the junk MDF below. Another piece of advice was to avoid anything with too many knick-knacky details, since cleaning every crack to remove the varnish and stain and get to the original wood takes forever. This saved me a lot of trouble as most of the stuff people were throwing out truly were too cheap to be worth saving.
I eventually picked up four pieces, two matching end tables, a small coffee table/end tale, and a children’s desk. The last one was probably a mistake as it is both intricate and has a veneer top that’s chipped in places, but we’ll see how it goes. I can always pawn it off on Craigslist for $10 bucks, which is an infinite return since I got if tor free 😉
For the two end tables, I took one aside and tightened the lag screws securing the legs and used wood filer to cover a bunch of long jagged marks, many of which were in the shape of a ‘J’. They don’t look natural to me, but I don’t see why anyone would deliberate create so many of them. The wood is riftsawn as opposed to quartersawn, so I imagine that the piece was in several different places with different humidity levels and this caused cracking. The wood also has a lot of pores, but I plan on leaving those alone as it gives the table a farm-house feel.
On the downside, I discovered that the drawer for this table had a big hole knocked in the bottom. I could possibly remove and replace the wood, but that would be a tremendous amount of work for such a low quality piece. I plan on cutting some MDF to size instead and pasting it to the bottom. I’ll have to do it to both end tables so that they match, but if that’s the price to pay to avoid re-assembling a drawer from scratch…
End table – afterI then got started on the coffee table/end table. This one has an art deco style and is more intricate than the others, so I wanted to avoid sanding it down if possible. I bought some stripping agent to take off the top few layers but its proving slow going. The picture below is the piece after two passes, and I’m hoping that the third will clear up most of it.
Stay tuned to the blog for more updates.