Something very exciting happened over the weekend.
For a year I’d been complaining about the dearth of great finds on Craigslist out here on the coast: bemoaning the over-priced used Ikea furniture and the difficulty of picking up good finds, when they did appear, because we chose to live two hours away from major cities; and romanticizing the great deals we used to find “all the time” in the midwest. And I think it’s true, things cost more on the coasts (duh), and the midwest is FULL of great mid-century finds.
In particular, I’d been missing our sweet dining table that we picked up in the Chicago suburbs for $40 back in 2010, and sold in 2011 just before moving. That lovely made-in-Denmark, extendible beauty:
I’ve spent a few hours since then mulling over the odds of finding another one like it, and scrolling through listings for similar tables in Seattle, priced between $200 (needing work) and $1800 (not joking).
But I was hasty, and I forgot that, in Craigslist as in life, good things come to those who wait.
Imagine my surprise to find this diamond in the rough, located just about 10 minutes down the road from me, for $25. Twenty-five. Dollars.
Even though I troll my local Craigslist furniture pages regularly, I somehow missed this beat-up beauty for two whole days. By the time I caught it, I was sure it would be gone. Twenty-five dollars is a great deal for any wood table.
This one, made of teak and stamped Made in Denmark, with a maker’s mark from Vejle Stole Og Møbelfabrik, had definitely seen better days. It wouldn’t really be a Craigslist deal without a solid moment of doubt, and mine came when I pulled up at the house to buy it, and found it sitting outside in the rain/mud, covered with a tarp, and with the edge banding peeling off on almost every edge. Two pieces of edge banding were already completely separated from the table. There was plenty of water damage and light scratches, and one or two burn marks, and the tabletop was pretty warped.
After a very light sanding (the tabletop is veneer, so I couldn’t sand too much for fear of sanding straight through the veneer) and gentle cleaning, I treated the whole thing to a heavy dose of teak oil. The wood was extremely dry, which is why the color was almost gray and undoubtedly why the edge banding had separated and fallen off–as the wood dried, it contracted and shrunk. One thing my woodworker brother has taught me is that the contraction and expansion of wood is a powerful force, powerful enough to split apart the wood itself, if given the chance.
For excellent advice on refinishing vintage wood, I recommend what everyone else has probably already recommended, Morgan Satterfield’s thorough post on The Brick House. I followed a very similar set of steps: clean, sand lightly, clean, oil with teak/danish oil, repeat as needed, finish off with Howard’s Feed-N-Wax, enjoy.
Next, I had to re-glue the edge banding where it had fallen off or was coming loose. I used wood glue, and held the pieces on during the glueing process with painter’s tape, which doesn’t leave a residue.
So plenty of damage is still evident, but it’s so much more lovely, and the teak oil absorbs into the wood and hardens, protecting the wood from future damage (to some extent). I really don’t mind that it shows wear–it makes it a little less nerve-wracking to set warm dishes on it (hot pads and coasters are my best friends, anyway), and it gives it that all-important “character,” right?
I am SO happy with this table in our dining room.
It pulls the dining and living areas together more, since the deep red color ties into the color of the floating cabinets, and it definitely makes our mismatched chairs look classier and more put-together. I like the chairs a lot better, not that we have the table in place. It also takes advantage of the shape of the rug so much better than our old, square table.
And just so you don’t think it’s all peaceful and pristine around here, here’s a view toward the kitchen, where I have been messily canning applesauce all weekend, and still–still!–have not painted our cabinet doors. Somebody come help me. I just cannot bring myself to do it.
It’s feeling more like a home–more like our home–every day.
Worth every penny. Thank you, Craigslist.