Wednesday, August 24, 2011

50's Era Retro Porch Table

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.

Back on James Ave, we offloaded the pieces and put a more critical eye to this new purchase. That tabletop looked pretty good as is; with some judicious cleaning and sticky tape goo removal it would be good as, well, new 1953 furniture. The legs were a different story. For starters, why did this table come designed to use 8 legs? Who knows, it was the style I guess. Also, the old chromed finish was severely rusted and needed refinishing.

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?

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