As Ash mentioned in this post, since we rarely (if ever) park our car in the carport, we’re now in the process of turning the carport into a covered patio of sorts. One of the first projects on our list was to find a table to use as an “outdoor entry table”. Ideally, this table would not only be nice on the eyes but a functional project table as well as a buffet for entertaining outside.

While driving down the back roads of Hanover, Ashley and one of our good friends happened upon a random middle-of-the-week yard sale where a man was selling a bunch of tools and boating equipment. What caught Ashley’s eye was this huge work bench, complete with a steel cover on the top with an attached vice for $20. Not only was it clearly a work bench, it was a bit worse for wear. The vice was pretty rusted and the steel top was in even worse condition. The rest of the table was all sorts of different colors (in a bad way). Of course, Ashley, being the DIY optimist, went ahead and bought it, knowing whole-heartedly we could restore it back to its former glory – well, a new kind of glory. She and our friend lifted the 100+ pound table into the back of the SUV and away they went. As Ash put it, “It was a beast!”

When she got this massive table home, I’m sure she could read the doubt all over my face. The first thing we decided to do was take the vice off (which is why it isn’t in the photo above). We both agreed it was too rusted for us to do anything with, so we decided to sell it. Much to our surprise, someone offered $30. We took them up on the offer seeing as how it was more than what we paid for the table! At this point, Ashley was feeling pretty proud of herself!

While we liked the idea of having a metal table top, it was really rusted and rotted. After a lot of going back and forth, we finally deemed it unusable and took it to the dump. Luckily, underneath the metal were wide planks of wood in pretty good condition.

You can’t really tell much in the photos, but the table was filthy! It had been used somewhere with lots and lots of motor oil. So, we decided to pressure-wash the table to try to remove as much grime and grease as possible. The pressure-washing action completely changed the color of the wood (more so in person) and brought us to a nice “starting point” to work with. NOW I was seeing the potential Ash was all excited about. Once the table was all cleaned up and the top removed, here’s what “the beast” was looking like…

Unlike the rest of the table, which is made of extremely solid pine, the shelf on the bottom was made of cheap particle board. Since it was still in good structural order, we decided to leave the particle board there and cover it with wood planks. Lucky for us, we happened upon exactly what we needed: wood shipping pallets. Yet again, another on-the-side-of-the-road find.

I took the pallets apart (it took the majority of two and a half pallets), pieced the planks together like a puzzle one by one, screwed them into the plywood then trimmed the edges with my circular saw. After was all said and done, it turned out pretty well!

Here’s another close-up of the planks on the bottom shelf…

After the planks were installed, I sanded the whole table… by hand. Now I’ve never been much of a woodworker, but even this simple of a design took a LOT of elbow grease to sand by hand. My father-in-law offered his vibrating sander, but I decided I just had to put my own sweat into this table. Plus, I thought sanding it by hand and purposely doing it uneven here and there might make it look a bit rustic – in a good way.

To tie in with our soon-to-be espresso patio furniture (more on that here), we decided to go with a dark walnut stain. The table completely soaked up the stain and we wanted an extra dark color, so it took two quarts to stain the entire table. On top of that, we did three coats of matte polyurethane.

Looks like a bit of a “Plain Jane” at the moment, but we’re planning on adding some wall art, accessories and lighting in the near future (again, more on that here).

After a few good long hours of drying time, we were super happy with the end results!  We really like not only the functionality, but the overall look. The table has a lot of cool deep grooves and nicks here and there, so we don’t have to worry about it getting beat up when we work on projects (gives it character, right?), but it is still nice enough to use as a buffet during outdoor get-togethers.

We’re keeping our eyes open for storage baskets to put on the bottom shelf. They will be perfect for grilling essentials and outdoor toys for our friend’s kids.

Despite my early reservations, I had a lot of fun doing this project. It’s great to work on something where you can see the immediate benefit of your work but even better when what you’re working on is super-functional. Of course, I owe it all to Ashley’s great eye for the potential of things I would simply write off as junk. Maybe I’ll have to trust her judgment more on this kind of stuff in the future… just don’t tell her I said that! ; )