I've done a few wood stripping projects with my best girl Neda, and what I've learned is this:
- Chemical strippers burn like a mother-fucker when they hit your skin
- And no matter how careful you think you're being, you will get burned, dozens of times if you are anything like me
- Hand sanders, like most machinery scare me (to the point of refusing to use them)
- They also aren't the easiest things to control
- Gauges in tables also suck, and are much harder to get out than they are to get in
As a result of past experiences, and because I'm a little crazy frankly, I decided to sand the table top by hand. Just me and some sandpaper. What was I thinking?! If I do this again, I'm definitely going to suck it up and use a chemical. It would have gone soooo much faster. Still, the experience overall is very positive, so I don't regret my choice. I feel the table it more mine now because of all the time, effort and determination I've put into it.
It took me quite a few sessions, with sore muscles, raw fingertips, and a lot of dust, but I got it done - eventually.
Just in case you didn't' believe me about the dust - I looked like this at the end of every session with the table
Trouble was, I kinda started the project late in the year. The cold weather hit us much quicker than I thought it would. So by the time the table was 95% sanded, it was just too cold to open up the apartment to finish it, ventilation being key.
Last week (or was it the week before now? I can't remember) we had some really nice weather, so I took to my table again. After another 4 hours of hard labour sanding the table top, it was finally ready to be finished!
I picked polyurethane because it was fast, and frankly because it would take far fewer coats to get a reliable surface. We do eat and compute off this table, any finish needed to be able to stand up to our wear and tear. Took me two days of coating, and letting it dry, with ever window and door open in the place, and a fan blowing out the noxious fumes - man does that stuff smell vile! Kills brain cells too, if not ventilated. I spent most of my time out or on the balcony to negate that possibility.
The end result: Almost Like Glass!!!
I'm so proud. Honestly, I'm thrilled with how it turned out. The polyurethane tinted the wood just enough that it's the exact same colour of the legs! Or, more accurately, I didn't sand down past the finish time had put on the wood! Yay! I think it looks great. I could not possibly be happier. It's so smoooooooth! :D Go me!