Breathing new life into old furniture

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 3, 2005

This week I’m refinishing a table for my youngest son. It is something I enjoy.

Taking the finish off is very messy, but seeing the wood underneath and knowing you are going to bring new life to it is quite satisfying. Once the piece of furniture is stripped down, cleaned and sanded, you begin to see the possibilities. And then when you start to stain it, you see it begin to take on a completely different character. I have been doing this off and on for many years.

The first time I tried refinishing was when my youngest son was ready to sleep in a bed instead of a crib. I needed a bed for him, but funds were a little tight. I found some bunk beds at a yard sale that were a little unsteady and the finish was starting to come off. Since they only wanted five dollars for them, I felt it was worth a try at fixing and refinishing them. I worked hard and learned a lot, but by the time I finished they were looking pretty good. I found that I wasn’t afraid to try to bring older furniture back into usable shape and it was something I enjoyed doing.

But the table I am working on now is a special one. When my father died, I brought much of his and mama’s furniture home with me. My sons and I are pretty sentimental about things that have been in the family for a while. Among the things I brought were two tables she had in her living room. My youngest brought one of them for his home. Most of her living room tables were odd shaped and had leather inlay. Over the years since she had died they had gotten in pretty bad shape. The finish was coming off and the leather was cracking. Still my dad couldn’t bring himself to get rid of them and now I’m glad he didn’t.

The two I brought home were a table similar to one that goes behind a couch and a smaller oval one. The one my son brought home was triangular shaped. I have finished my two and am now working on his. They once were white, but now have a maple stain. They will be in good enough shape for my children and their children to use them if they choose.

I don’t know if you have ever tried refinishing or not. It really isn’t as difficult as you might think. You just take it one step at a time and it is very manageable. If you like old things or if your funds don’t permit you to buy some things you would like to have, it is a good way to get them.

It is good to have a hobby of any kind that you can enjoy and forget about everything else while you are caught up in it. If you don’t have a hobby, explore different types and find one you really like doing. It will give you many hours of enjoyment and give you a sense of achievement that is hard to explain.

E-mail me at and let me know if you have any comments or suggestions.