My friend Jen gave me this drop leaf table months ago. An antique drop leaf, gate leg table to be exact. She was planning on throwing it out, but thought maybe I could make something of it….
keep that in mind – this was a curb-bound piece of furniture.
Fair enough – it did need a bit of love:
Then the leaves above slide together with this neat (antique) mechanism,
then the rounded end leaves fold down (not shown).
When compacted down – leaves tucked under, sides folded down the table is 26″ by 45″ – a perfect side window table, or small kitchen bistro. When you open up all of the flips and flops the table is suddenly large enough to fit 6, possibly even 8, for dinner! (69″ by 45″)
The only problem is a project like this is pretty overwhelming. For every fold and bend there is another surface that needs to be sanded, primed, stained, varnished – it’s not as easy as a plain table top and legs.
I decided to start with the legs first, and because they are fairly elaborate, there was no way I was going to sand them down to bare wood. Instead I cleaned the bottom of the table thoroughly with some TSP in water, dried it, and then gave it a light sanding – just enough to rough up the surface.
The stain on this piece was almost a cherry, so to stop any bleed-through, I primed the bottom of the table and the legs with two coats of Kilz primer, then painted on two coats of this warm grey.
Once the base was finished and completely dry, I stripped down the top with my new DeWalt random orbit sander (yup, I decided to go with DeWalt since I’ve been pretty pleased with my palm sander from them).
I won’t lie – this took a few hours of sanding.
A few meaning 5 or 6.
Mainly because with most tables there are usually multiple layers of varnish or polyurethane to protect the surface. In this case, I had to battle years of furniture polish, the varnish coating, some relatively deep scratches AND I had to get in every nook and cranny between the leaves.
A lot of work, but pretty worth it wouldn’t you say?
How about now?
One coat of Minwax Dark Walnut and 3 coats of triple-thick varnish – which if the can is correct, is really the equivalent of 9 coats of regular varnish.
Above is the drop leaf table unfolded out to it’s full 69″ length and below it’s compacted down to it’s 26″ length.
The wood – which I believe is cherry – is just spectacular.
You can’t buy a piece like this one for less than $1,000 new, and even then it won’t have the character and detailing of this gorgeous antique drop leaf table. (drop leaf, gate leg table to be precise for SEO)
With the centre leaf up, but the side panels down, you have a 40″ by 45″ table top – so it covers all of the bases. Dinner for two, dinner for four and even dinner for 8 in one gorgeous package.
- paint ~1/3 quart $10
- stain pint $13
- varnish ~1/2 quart $17
- sandpaper $10
- labour 16 hours x $30/hr = $480
Grand total: $530
So before you go throwing out Grandma’s antiques – think about the potential; a few supplies and a bit of elbow grease and it might be $530 you are putting to the curb.