This is part 2 of the roadside table saga. Check out part one if you haven’t already. After we got the table into the carport and started analyzing it, I realized there were a few things that were going to be issues if we were going to get any serious use out of this find:
1 // Part of one of the legs fell off during “transport”. And by “transport”, I mean me man-handling this monstrosity into and out of the back of the truck. It was easy enough to put back on, but I didn’t want it to happen again, so I drilled some pilot holes and screwed the bottom part of the legs on using 4-inch decking screws. I don’t think they’re going anywhere at this point!
2 // Once I had the legs securely fastened, I realized the top was seriously not level–no corner was at the same height. I’m sure this was due to a combination of building imperfections (it is pallet wood, after all!) and my not-so-gentle methods getting the table in and out of the truck. After putting a level on pretty much every piece of the table, I decided the best course of action was to simply take the top of the table off the legs and work from there.
Ash thinks this is the “cutest photo ever” because Bentley looks as though he’s really into the leveling process of the table project. Though, in reality, it was his dinner time and he wanted to be fed.
On one side, I noticed that one of the angled supports was just a little short, so I pulled it off, adjusted the top crossmember so it was level, and reattached the support with screws. Oh… did I mention I am terrible at driving long nails into anything other than drywall? Screws are just so much easier. I actually tried using nails to begin with, and all I have to show for that effort is a pile of pretzel-shaped metal.
The sanding process was relatively straightforward. I used 80-grit sandpaper on my father-in-law’s vibrating sander to start, then worked my way up to 220-grit by hand. For knots like the one above, I actually ended up breaking out the Dremel. This was a super-exciting moment for me, since I hadn’t had a good reason to use it since Ash gave it to me for Christmas, haha. I think the tip I ended up using is actually for grinding metal, but it was the perfect size and shape to get into the small holes in the planks. After I got rid or most of the splinters, I ran over the hole with some high-grit sandpaper, just to smooth the edges.
Once I was done sanding the top, I used a shop vac with the brush attachment to suck up all the sawdust. It took 30 seconds and got the surface much cleaner than wiping it off ever would.
For the table’s legs (supports?), I just used some 120-grit sandpaper and went over it by hand. I wasn’t looking to make them extremely smooth, but I didn’t want anyone’s clothes getting caught on a splinter when they sat down at the table.
For the stain, we used Minwax’s Special Walnut. This is one of our favorite stain colors to use around here because it has a deep rich brown color without any red undertones. Obviously, the final product totally depends on the type of wood you’re staining, but we haven’t run into anything that came out anything other than a rich brown so far. I’m a big fan of using sponge brushes to apply stain for two reasons: 1) At less than $1 apiece, I can throw them away when I’m done. 2) They’re a happy medium between a brush and a cloth. Especially in this case, cloths get hung up on this rough wood, even after it’s sanded, and brushes just don’t hold enough of the stain for my taste.
The stain soaked right in and was dry to the touch within a few minutes. I guess that’s one of the advantages / disadvantages of staining pallet wood. When I finished the coat of stain on the top, Ash and I thought it might be a bit too dark, but it lightened up a bit when it dried completely.
Since polyurethane is a lot thicker than stain, I used a brush to apply it to the table. One word of wisdom, though: If you are using an oil-based polyurethane like I was, be sure to have some paint thinner on hand. I didn’t, so I tried (and failed) to clean it using other methods. I ended up having to put my brand new brush in the trash after the first coat. Lesson learned.
And here’s our new outdoor dining table! We’re really pleased with how it turned out and still can’t believe it was on the side of the road for free.
The poly really brings out the character in the wood, protects it from the elements and seals it so that the once-rough table is now relatively splinter-free.
In the future, we’re thinking about adding a bit of length on either end of the table so that the table could seat 8 people comfortably. Before we do that, though, we’re going to be working on getting the carport-turned-covered patio area finished. Then, we’ll circle back around to the patio proper and dress up the table with some chairs and maybe an umbrella.
All in all, it’s definitely not bad for a $20 roadside table and the extra elbow grease was totally worth sprucing it up. Definitely a roadside find to remember.