Okay, so you saw how my Dad and I built our Ana White harvest table here. Well, although I was feeling seriously triumphant for building it (!!), I still had to sand, stain, and finish this thing.
Before we started we filled all of the nail holes using paintable filler (sorry – forgot to take pics of that step). It’s like patching any wall in your house – just fill it in with putty and smooth over with a spatula-type scraper. Once they were filled and dry, we got to sanding. First up was Dad with the big belt sander. This guy is super powerful and since we were using construction grade unfinished wood, this was really the best way to get an initial smoothing (including removal of the stamp marks along the wood).
Then I followed up with the hand sander. We used medium grit sand paper disks, which took the smoothness to the next level.
When we flipped the table over to do the underside, it was a little trickier and more time consuming with all of the nooks and crannies. We both wore protective masks the whole time to ensure we didn’t breathe in any sawdust. I also had glasses on the ready (see that snazzy tinted 3M pair on my head?), for when it got ultra dusty. The belt sander especially throws out a ton of that stuff and you don’t want to ingest any or get any in your eyes.
Luckily with both of us tag-teaming it, we got it done pretty quickly.
To finish off the sanding we flipped the table right-side-up again, and I went over the whole top with some finer sand paper. I started at 150 grit and worked my way up to 300 grit sandpaper, using sandpaper from this line: 3M Advanced Abrasives. The higher you get in numbers, the finer the sandpaper becomes, so you want to work your way from the low numbers up to the high ones. This gets you that nice super-smooth feeling. Oh, and I made sure to keep that safety equipment on. Safety first, peeps!
Always make sure to sand with the grain of the wood. I use this hand-held block to keep the sandpaper in place.
Once everything was sanded, wiped down (you need to get rid of all that dust), and we had gone in for a cuppa tea, it was time to start the finishing. I went for these three products: a wood conditioner, which you use to make sure your stain goes on evenly, a stain in “Early American”, and some polyurethane.
First step was the wood conditioner. You can’t really tell that it’s on since it’s so clear, but it’s there. It was nice and quick to apply with a paint brush.
Then it was time to stain. This is always my favourite part, where the piece of furniture comes to life.
I used a paintbrush to apply the stain, would finish a small section, and then go over the newly painted area with a cloth and wipe away the excess.
I didn’t want anything too dark, so went with a fairly light, honey colour that was exactly “harvest table” to me. As soon as it started going on, I knew it was the right choice. I like how warm it is, and how it totally takes my construction grade wood up a notch.
After letting the stain dry overnight, the last step was to put a few coats of polyurethane. Polyurethane is one of those love/hate things. I love that it protects the piece of furniture and makes it stand up to lots of wear and tear, but I hate how it can often come out looking shiny. I knew that especially with this harvest table, I wanted to keep it as raw as possible. I chose the satin finish so it would be the least glossy of the bunch and applied the first coat with trepidation. See what I mean about it looking super glossy?
Luckily though, it dried to a much more matte finish. The trick with putting on poly is to sweep your paintbrush lightly over it on an angle as a last “pull-over” to remove the little bubbles, and to sand very lightly with a fine paper in between coats to remove any bumps/particles. I did 3 very light coats on the table. It looks like the legs are a lot darker in the photo below, but it’s just the weird lighting in the garage. Better “after” photos to come soon.
Now all we have to do? Move this huge, heavy, beautiful beast in our dining room. Wish us luck!