Last weekend we visited my daughter's yard sale, where she was selling off odds and ends scavenged from home and surroundings. Among the items on the lawn was a 1950's era kitchen table that looked interesting. Inspecting it, we found it was an early Formica top, slightly chipped, with studded green vinyl sides, eight(!) legs and a 1953 date code. It looked rusty but savable, so we haggled with the daughter, paid cash, and loaded it into the car.
Out came the power tools. In conversation with a surprisingly knowledgable floor employee at Home Depot, we learned that a modern grinding wheel attachment, specifically designed to clean rust, does the same work as a wire brush - but better. No flying wire brush hairs, no deep gouges - that grinding wheel worked really well for cleaning off the rust. And, unlike the brushes that grab and tear at your skin if you touch them while running, the grinding wheel didn't grab, so I avoided more than one skinned knuckle.
I ran the eight legs across the drill-mounted grinding wheel to clear rust and establish a nice looking brushed metal surface - each leg took about 15 minutes to refinish with the wheel.
We moved the table parts onto the front porch and began assembly. First, we placed plastic feet on the legs, then mirror match paired the legs up for mounting. "Some assembly required", as they say. After a bit of trial and error we figured out a workable way to mount the legs, cranked down on the rusty old butterfly nuts, and put the table up! Just like that, it wasn't a big deal at all.
Doesn't that look nice?