Sunday, November 11, 2012

Weathered Farmhouse Table


I talked a bit about how this table was built in my post from last Wednesday, but if you want to build the same table you don't have to follow my "here's my cut list -- do your best" approach because sweet Ana White created updated Farmhouse Table plans using pocket hole construction!

Now you should have no problem building the table. This post is about how I got that beautiful weathered finish. I don't usually finish with oil-based stains -- I don't like how they make me feel (dry throat, headache, sometimes even nauseous). I don't like their clean up and disposal issues. I don't like their high VOC content. But when I saw a Minwax stain called "Weathered Oak," I had to take it home to try it. And it was exactly what I've been looking for. FYI: I also tried the Minwax "Classic Grey" which is in the color chart linked above. It looked more blue than grey and almost nothing like the color pictured on the can. I'm glad I tested it first!

Minwax "Weathered Oak" on the left, "Classic Grey" on the right.
Until a water-based stain manufacturer finds something that can compete with this finish, I'll be compromising my values (and cringing inside) and using this stain. 

I could have used my old standby, the oxidizing solution made from steel wool and vinegar, but I wanted more yellow to show through. The steel wool and vinegar trick would have been too dark for the look I was going for.


For this finish, I applied one coat of stain to the legs and two to the top and stretcher boards. The legs are reclaimed cedar (from old fence posts) and only needed a light coat to get the color I was looking for. The rest was new pine and needed more color.

Before staining, I gave the table top a coat of wood conditioner and then a light sanding. I didn't condition the stretcher boards because I was running out of conditioner -- can you see the difference? I was surprised how much blotchier the stretchers came out. I still love them (they're rustic and beautiful) but next time I'll use conditioner on the stretchers, too.

For the sealer, I used Polywhey in satin on the whole table. So far I've put two coats on the top and one on the legs and stretchers. I'll probably put another coat on the whole thing, just for added protection. I love the look of Polywhey on this finish -- when the undercoat is darker, satin Polywhey can get a little too glossy for my taste. But on a stain this light, the Polywhey has almost no shine. It's gorgeous -- much like a waxed finish but nearly bullet-proof.

Okay, maybe not bullet-proof, but kid proof, for sure.

Is this a finish that would work in your house? What do you think about the table? Is a design like this, that seats 4-6 people, something that would work for you?

28 comments:

  1. Where did you purchase the Polywhey sealer, and which wood conditioner did you use?

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    1. Hey, Frugal! I used Minwax wood conditioner and I bought my Polywhey at a local store here in Colorado Springs called Interilife. Check out their retailer finder here: http://www.vermontnaturalcoatings.com/find-a-retailer/

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  2. Beautiful! I love the finish, I seem to always mess up this step! Thanks for the tips! I came over from Anawhite....

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  3. This is great! I often use the tea/steel wool/vinegar solution and really appreciate your comments and photos about the difference. I am looking for a table just like this and recently purchased a Kreg jig so very excited about the updated plans! I also just finished sealing our floors with VT Natural Coatings (I live in VT - LOVE that stuff!) Can't wait to tackle this project, thanks for the tips!

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    1. p.s. if you've ever gotten into using Annie Sloan products (chalk paints and waxes) the dark wax produces an awesome and super soft finish in comb with the steel wool/vinegar solution!

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    2. So good to know! I really want to try the AS products but haven't taken the plunge yet. I'm afraid I won't be able to go back to "normal" products. :) I'm so glad to know I'm not the only VT Natural Coatings fan out there! I really love their products.

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    3. Yeah, you won't go back ;>
      Just think, no stripping, no priming....
      I am lucky to have an ASCP dealer near'ish by who runs some free 'come and try it' classes (although I did most of the testing myself beforehand ;>) The paint is really awesome especially if you like the natural/worn/real look. Latex paint is strictly for walls now (but I even want to try AS there too!)

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  4. Hi Hillary! Beautiful piece yet again from you!! I have a question that I would love your opinion on since I want to do similar builds as you & that is, what is the best saw to get that isn't super expensive. I thought it was the compound miter but the guy at sears said to get the table saw bc it does everything. However the one he suggested(craftsman evolve) only cuts to an angle of 45 deg & I want to do your x coffee table & you need a cut at 60deg. I've tried to do my research but I still feel confused on what the best saw is for what I want to do so I thought I'd ask you what you have & use. Thank you so much!!

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    1. Thanks, Angelique!

      I definitely disagree with the guy at Sears. Actually, I usually disagree with men who work in the tool section of wooodworking and/or hardware stores, not because they're wrong, but because we build differently. They usually build more traditionally, not using pocket holes and not using stock lumber from Home Depot and Lowe's, so they have different tool needs than we do. If you are using plans from Ana White, like I do, your most important tools are going to be a good electric drill/screwdriver and a miter saw. Trying to make all of the short cuts on a table saw would be a major pain in the rear, especially if you're working alone. Ana designs her plans to minimize ripping (which is what a table saw is used for most of the time) so, especially as a beginner, you really don't need one. You can have Home Depot do the rip cuts if you need any.

      Also, I know some people who have had great luck finding a really good, high quality miter saw at a deep discount by looking in pawn shops. I know that sounds crazy, but if I were looking for a miter saw right now, that would be my first move -- to call some local pawn shops. (You can thank a former student of mine who worked in a pawn shop for that tip!) If you can find one that is a "sliding" compound miter saw, you'll be able to do bigger lumber (ie: 2x10 or 1x10) without flipping the board over which will give you more accurate cuts on big boards. If all you can find/afford is a standard small miter saw that does up to a 1x8 or 1x6, that will work, too.

      For x on the x coffee table, I had to hold the 2x2 away from the fence at an angle to get the right cut because my saw (and most, I think) only goes to 50 degrees. I'm sure it was a cut that a "real" woodworker or shop teacher would have shaken his head at but...it worked. :)

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  5. Thank you so much Hillary! I knew you would be able to steer me in the right direction!!! :)

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    1. Just want to say I totally agree with Hillary! I started building stuff a little over a year ago (when I came upon Ana's site). At that point I was even nervous about using the miter saw and now I LOVE it! And I HATE the table saw. I intentionally steer away from projects that might remotely have a table saw involved. If you do have to rip a long board Ana just posted a great video tutorial on using a circular saw. Circular saw is not my favorite either but her tips were a big AHA for me and now am kind of looking forward to a project where I'd have to make a long cut ;>
      Good luck!

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  6. Simply beautiful Hillary.
    Can you advise please? since there is no such thing as reclaimed timbers here in sunny Queensland Australia. I am having a New Guinea rosewood table made and am in a quandary as to the finish.
    Above all the table must be red wine and hot mug proof. I am after a beachy aged look. Is it possible to go the natural ingredient route and avoid polyurathanes?

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    1. Hi! Thanks!

      I know that PolyWhey is red wine and hot mug proof, but I don't know if you can get it there. All of the water-based poly products I have worked with would withstand hot mugs and red wine, actually, but not all are VOC-free (but at least they are not as bad as oil-based products). Another one to look into is Safecoat Acrylacq...I think that is the spelling.

      One with more VOCs but still a natural base is Waterlox. It uses tung oil (totally natural) as its base, but has solvents added to it. It gives a durable finish great for kitchens. Or tung oil alone. It would have to be re-oiled occasionally but it would be a good option. It has a great matte finish and is non-toxic (unless you're allergic to tree nuts, then it is not good). Both Waterlox and tung oil will change the color of the wood to something probably darker and warmer, so test first.

      Good luck!

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  7. Hi Hillary,

    Thanks for posting!! Can you tell me what type of wood you used for the table top?

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    1. I'm pretty sure (but not 100% sure) that it is douglas fir. It is whatever Lowe's had in 2x8 and 2x10.

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  8. It's gorgeous, and I *love* the weathered oak stain. I can't wait to try it on something myself!

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    1. Waaaait! You know what I figured out when I went back to finish off that can of stain? I hadn't mixed in all the pigment. There was all this grey colorant at the bottom of the can. I bought a second can to do another table but this time I mixed it well (with a stir stick instead of just shaking) and I didn't like the color NEARLY as much. SO, if I were to use this stain again (and I may or may not, it is so very, very smelly), I will be sure not to mix it with a stir stick, just some good shaking by hand and then I'd plan not to use the bottom 1/3 of the can, probably. Or I'd mix it well and then combine it with a can of more honey-toned stain, because there was just too much grey in the well-mixed version and it came out looking pretty...meh. Fake weathered instead of actually weathered. Good luck!

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  9. Hillary... do I need to condition the wood prior to oxidizing with 0000 and vinegar? And if I can't use polywhey is rustoleum poly OK? Also if you dont mind... what price did you put on this table... thanks!

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    1. I've conditioned and not conditioned before oxidizing -- I can't see much of a difference. For me, temperature (and wood species, obviously) has made the biggest difference. I haven't used rustoleum poly, so I can't give you a good answer for that. I sold this table for $550. Prices have gone up since then. Now I'd sell it for $650 ($550 for a 5' table, plus $50/foot for longer tables).

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  10. Thanks a lot! Your work is awesome and I am using the oxidation solution on most everything I do. So cool how it works differently on everything making every piece unique and one of a kind. I'll experiment with rustoleum and briwax... seem to be great products so far. Thanks for the tip on price. That was the range I was looking at. Take care.

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  11. Hillary,

    I followed both your plans, and Ana's to build this table. But I made mine 48in wide by 76 in long. :) My question is, because we aren't perfect and the boards aren't all flush, we have some sanding to do to make the top nice and smooth. I have a random orbit sander, which is what I was planning on using. My husband had some concerns about it ruining the wood grain....what did you use to sand yours?

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    1. I user a random orbital sander too. Just do not apply ANY pressure while sanding and don't use anything coarser than 80 grit. Sometimes it is best to start with 120.

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  12. Beautiful table! I am going to be starting this project soon, and needed to know a couple of things... first, the pocket hole tool you used... would the Kreg Mini Jig be enough or do I need something more? second, I didn't quite understand how you attach the top of the table to the legs; do you drill pocket hole on the aprons facing up towards the top (I didn't see it on the plans on Ana White's website... just double checking). Lastly, I have 3 children... your suggestion for making sure the table survives them (finish wise), my folks always used multiple coats of polyurethane....
    Thank you and I can't wait to try this project!!! I need a new table BAD! :-)

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    1. Hey, Melinda. I had the Kreg Mini (or Kreg Jr. I think, actually...is there a difference?) for a year before I moved up to the full system and I think it would work fine. But your pecs will be a lot more sore. :)

      Yes, pocket holes facing up on the inside of the aprons.

      For kids you can't beat poly, but I would definitely go with a water-based poly like Vermont Natural Coatings (my favorite) or General Finishes.

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  13. Hi when you make something like this and the Rustic x peices do you seal/paint/weather the entire piece with a top coat (or wax, PolyWhey, etc.) including the bottoms and underside of the shelves and tabletop or just the parts seen from above.

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    1. Hey, James! No, I'm lazy so I generally only do what I can see. Sometimes I do stain or paint the underside, but I never bother to seal it.

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  14. I love the plans but I'm concerned about seasonal wood movement has anyone had any expansion problems cracks etc? Thanks

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    1. Hey, Megan. That's a totally valid concern. I haven't had any expansion issues or cracks in my current table, but I have heard about others who have (both in tables I've built and in tables other people have built). I think it is REALLY important to use kiln-dried or seasoned lumber for the tops of these tables. My current table has a cedar top that was nice and dry when I put it together and it has been fine. But, the pine/fir tables I've built? That wood, when it comes from Lowe's or HD, really is meant to build walls, not to build table tops. If you don't get pieces that feel light and dry, you'll deal with shrinking/cracking/twisting within the first six months. As for expansion later on...I can only speak for our climate here in Colorado, but it hasn't been a problem. We have a whole house humidifier that came with our new furnace and I think it helps my furniture stay in one piece!

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Thanks for reading! I'm looking forward to hearing what you have to say.