K guys. I’ll admit it. Many of you have done refinishing projects- many of you. And I have a shameful confession to make.

When you post about your adventures in refinishing, I don’t read them. I scroll quickly, watching the pictures fly by up my screen, then compare “before” to “after”. I promise that I really do actually read most of your other posts- refinishing just seemed like such a boring topic.

I have learned the error of my ways.

J & S, why didn’t I read your step-by-step tips for refinishing?

Kasey, why didn’t it sink in that it was a total pain in the b-u-t-t?

Of course I didn’t think of that until I was standing there frustrated, dripping in sweat, cursing the sander and anything else that came in my path. (It might not have helped that my dear grandpa’s belt sander hadn’t been used in 15 years and wasn’t working so well.)

Okay, on to the freakin post.

A while back I was given this old (old!) patio set by my Aunt Soozie and my Grandpa Workman. It’s a little wobbly and not in the best shape, but it holds a special place in my heart. I remember it being on my grandpa’s back patio when I was a kid.

I actually really liked the turquoise paint job that Soozie had done on it about 15 years earlier

Unfortunately it had been left out in the weather for quite some time, and presented a few challenges in the aesthetic department.

I invested in a scraper to get the big flakes off. At this point I should have just sanded it smooth and painted the whole thing. But I thought “Wouldn’t it look cool to be partly painted and partly stained?” I may as well have asked myself “Wouldn’t it be cool to spend all day on this project, versus a couple of hours?” Luckily I had my awesome mom here, and some more awesome friends to help me along the way.

They seem to have commandeered my camera.

Working hard, girls??

Both of these girls actually recently bought properties too, and they also have blogs! You can find them in my “Friends in real life” blogroll- Kristin and Schmandice (Candice). It’s too bad that neither of them is as addicted to blogging as I am, because they are hilarious!

Anyway, I decided it would look cool if the top of the table was stained wood, along with the backs of the chairs/bench and armrests, and everything else was painted. So we sanded the crap out of these slats…

then it became obvious that I was going to have to take them off to get to the paint in the cracks. Boo.

Meanwhile we scraped and sanded the worst of the flaking paint off the chairs and bench:

and had to remove the backs too, so they could be sanded down to bare wood.

By the end of the evening, the set looked like this:

Yes, I am aware that my "lawn" is disgusting, as is the view into the neighbors' driveway.

If you’re interested in the color I can get back to you- my mom actually picked it out while she was at the store. I liked the existing color, and the one she picked was a brighter version of it, so pat on the back for mom! (She almost wouldn’t do it because she was nervous she’d pick a bad color.)

I was reeeeeeeally getting frustrated with the belt sander by now. You can probably see in the pic above what the problem was- the belt kept sliding off, resulting in not only uneven sanding, but ugly gouges in the wood that made me want to cry a little (no I didn’t take pics- what am I, some kind of masochist?). So by those around me who were probably starting to use my face as a barometer for their own level of safety, I was convinced to just paint the armrests instead of trying to fit the crazy-eye-inducing sander where it needed to go. Good choice, guys, for all of us. Although I think it would have looked really cool, it just was not worth it to me.

Are you ready for the finished* product?


*Fooled ya! The slats are actually just sitting on top- I bought the wrong kind of screws to screw them back on, but I was too impatient to not blog about it. The other *last thing* I need to do is sand and put a couple more coats of poly on top, so we can spill spinach dip and orange Crush to our hearts’ content, and wipe it right up.

As you can see, some of the wood is a little “rustic” looking. Where the paint had peeled, weather had been allowed to seep deep into the grain, and I would have had to sand half the slat off to make it look “right”. So I left it.

As if this post wasn’t long enough, let me explain the post title. You know that saying that has to do with shooting for the moon, and even if you don’t make it you’ll at least end up among the stars? (Which totally doesn’t make sense astronomically, but I think we can all get the symbolism.) Well since I pictured a beautifully smooth refinished table, my real efforts at least resulted in “rustic charm”. Now if my goal had been “rustic charm”, I probably would have ended up with “getthispieceofcrapoffmybackpatioimmediatelywhatthehellwereyoutryingtodo?”.