Sandpaper: A Hate Story (or how I refinished my dining set) June 22, 2011 DIY, Home Decor, Our House, Thrift Store Finds, Tutorials 16 Comments 11253 I’m the kind of person that likes to talk and talk and talk about doing a project and then promptly move onto something else more interesting. So it’s not surprising that after purchasing my new $100 dining set in February and blabbing about my intentions of refinishing it…it sat in my dining room like this for 4 months. Even my chandelier got swapped out before I touched the table! It took me a long time to get around to this ginormous project because I absolutely hate sanding. Oh yes, that’s (one of) my dirty little secrets. This DIYer will avoid sanding at. all. costs. But I’m not delusional about the importance of it so, rather than do a crappy job, I’ll just wait until I’m properly motivated to tackle a sandpaper heavy project. Oh that reminds me. [begin rant] I also hate the fact that it’s SO FLIPPIN EXPENSIVE. I mean seriously…it’s paper with sand stuck to it. You make me think I’m getting a bunch of it with that cardboard package until I realize that it’s 3 sheets for $4.50. Yet I continue to buy the small packs because paying $15 for the large pack is just too scary for me. I mean I can get at least 75 yards of drop cloth for that price which is way more useful to me. [end rant] So anyhow, moving on… I started with the chairs and took some 80 grit to them. I really wanted to scuff the surface because this set had a super glossy finish on it. Apparently two of my cats thought I was in need of assistance or moral support or something (which I probably was). Yes, I like to sand things in my house. Only by hand though. Do not try to get a friend to hold a vacuum hose while you use a palm sander in the house. It doesn’t work, and don’t ask me why I know. After sanding 4 chairs and the table legs, I applied two coats of primer then two coats of Sherwin Williams “Creamy” from a color test quart. As you can see, it’s an improvement but not nearly finished. This next part is where I got a little lesson in distressing and glazing. I went to town on the first chair with the sandpaper all over, but especially in areas I thought would be worn over time. I think I used 120 grit paper. EPIC FAIL. When you put your glaze/stain on, you will see every single scratch of the paper. Fortunately it’s only really bad up close, and it ended up not sticking out amongst the rest of the chairs as much as I thought it would. Plus I figured once I get all 8 done, I can swap it for one of the extra chairs we keep in the basement (we only use 4-6 regularly). On the next chair I tried 180 grit and only in the areas I wanted distressing. It was much better and more organic looking. I had a Goldilocks moment and on the 3rd chair tried 220 to see if I could get it *just right* but it took a lot of work and wasn’t really any better. So 180 it is from now on. In any case, despite my grab bag of techniques, all the chairs came out with the same overall look so it’s hard to tell a difference. I used the same glazing process that I shared for my buffet makeover, the brush on/wipe off method-except I also sanded after the stain because the curves of the chair made it so difficult to get the stain on evenly. Lightly sanding afterward evened everything out and lightened the color. Then I moved on to the top. It took a long time to sand the poly off. I have never used a chemical stripper-and quite frankly they scare me- but after this I may be tempted. I found out in the worst possible way that my “solid wood” table was actually a thick veneer when I sanded through to an interesting grain pattern I like to call particle board. Fortunately I realized it quickly and it was only a small area. Here’s how everything looked all nekkid on top and glaze-y goodness on the bottom. I applied a coat of Minwax Dark Walnut to the top with a brush and wiped off the excess, working in small areas with the grain. The next day I sanded with some 320 and applied another coat for good measure. And finally, I finished it with Minwax Paste Wax (clear). Well I’ve chatted about everything enough, I suppose it’s time to show you the final pics! Keep in mind the stain is not perfect because the veneer doesn’t act the same as real wood…but I like way it turned out. I think it’s a HUGE improvement, and I’m totally in love with it. It’s all ready for summer with some bright colors (I’ll tell you more about the table runner this week also). I actually have plans to make slipcovers for the chairs because I hate the ball finials and am afraid to saw them off. But, for now, I hate them less than I used to. What do you think? Am I the only one who hates the “balls”? Have any of you tried paste wax yet? *************Linked Up*************** 16 Responses Amy with Good Day! June 22, 2011 I LOVE IT! I LOVE IT! I LOVE IT! I LOVE IT! I LOVE IT! I LOVE IT! I LOVE IT! I LOVE IT! The whole look is to die for—literally—because I nearly died for it. Next time you need me to “help with a project” (clean your whole house top to bottom) I will be sure to bring my inhaler ;o) Reply Lovely Crafty Home June 22, 2011 Don’t die! I’ll get your inhaler…hold on! Reply julie June 22, 2011 I think it came out great! I feel your pain with the sanding…just finished my kitchen table set…did you use the wax over the creamy paint? I used that color on my table legs but haven’t decided on how to seal them yet..will the wax hold up well over paint? thanks! Reply Lovely Crafty Home June 22, 2011 Julie- Thanks so much! I haven’t waxed the legs or the chairs…that was my original plan, but I kind like the fact that they could get more worn/distressed. The wax is excellent over painted furniture though! Reply MariaS June 22, 2011 Oh I absolutely LOVE it! You did a phenomenal job!!!!! And I hear you on procrastinating: we bought a fairly nice but stuffy dining room set (table for 10, 10 chairs and hutch) about 10 years ago. In the process we built a home and moved into the new home (7 years ago) and I have YET to refinish it. I mean, I built a home in the process but I have not yet refinished it. It is now HIGH on my DIY to do list…but dreading it. Reply Comeca Jones June 22, 2011 Looks good although I really liked before the wax but I have issues with change lol Glad it turned out so great! Reply Terry Moore June 22, 2011 Okay, first you are right…you like to talk and I listened (read) to every word you said. Second, you are the perfect candidate for Annie Sloan’s Chalk paint because it requires no prep other than being clean, but no primer. Sanding is a piece of cake too since it’s chalk paint. Thirdly, not only is your table and chairs just beautiful now, but your chandelier is so cool that it is electric lights and candles! What a great post for those like me that will take the time and enjoy it. Reply Lovely Crafty Home June 22, 2011 Terry- I am dying to try the chalk paint!! But I’d have to order it online and I just haven’t found a piece that I feel like I’d want to use it on yet. I got the chandy at IKEA, it’s probably one of my favorite things in the house!! Thanks for reading! Reply Denise June 22, 2011 Love the dining set. You did a great job! And I hate sanding too! Reply Anna June 22, 2011 I love how this turned out! I would be sawing the finials off. Just do it. Reply Vona Adams June 22, 2011 I have a table that is several generations old (over 100 years old) and it needs refinishing but I am to terrified to try this on my own. But after reading this, MAYBE I could do it! I will have to work up more courage so for now I will keep reading your blog and gaining more knowledge 🙂 Reply Jessica June 22, 2011 Looks amazing…super awesome job chica. I too HATE sanding stuff…it’s my worst enemy! Reply Jen @ Domesticated Nomad June 22, 2011 This post cracked me up because I can related to so much of it! I too talk a lot and put off projects when the work is not my favorite kind of work. It came out great. I loved the particle board line. Way to keep a sense of humor about these things – it’s the only way to survive these projects really. 🙂 I don’t like the ball finials, but I like the ladder backs so I don’t know. I think I’d cut them off rather than slipcover. Reply julie June 23, 2011 Good to know- thanks! I hear ya on the naturally distressed furniture..my kitchen chairs have become ‘distressed’ by my 2 angels…at least I don’t have to sand the chairs..they do it for me! 🙂 Reply Deana June 23, 2011 stunning! you did a great job. this post would be so great at my weekly blog party. I’d love it if you joined me! Reply Antwan March 29, 2014 Wonderful article! This is the type of info that are supposed to be shared around the net. 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