Friday, December 13, 2013

Girls Can Play With Tools Too

I grew up thinking that all men were handy. My dad, my grandfathers, and most of my dad's friends fixed things, made things, or generally puttered around in their workshops all winter. When my mom was out, I sat on the floor of Dad's basement shop with a hammer, 2x4, and nails for entertainment while he worked on his project-of-the-moment. You'd think I would have absorbed all kinds of useful information, but that would have required me to be interested and pay attention. "Sand with the grain" was ingrained, but that's about it.

The man in my life likes to work with his brain, not his hands. I'm all for shattering gender stereotypes, but at times this still strikes me as odd. I'm the tinkerer in the house. I don't know much, but I like to try things. I call Dad (and Mom, who's no slouch with a paintbrush) for advice and Google the rest.

My husband doesn't understand why I went to all the trouble, but I think I've completed a project that would make my family proud. "Sand with the grain" proved to be pretty useful after all.

Drop-Leaf Table - Flotsam of the Mind

Toward the end of last winter, I wandered into a consignment shop while killing time. I found a sturdy table just the size I needed for my foyer. For six years, I'd been looking for an oval table to fit the curve of the stairs. The one I found needed some love, but it was just the right size and shape.

Table Before - Flotsam of the Mind

I didn't know a thing about buying or refinishing furniture, but I thought that $45 seemed worth the gamble. I brought it home. The pedestal was painted, and the top had water damage. It looked like someone had been storing paint cans on it, but I assumed it was nothing a little sanding wouldn't fix. Maybe I could paint it black to cover all the damage.

Table Before - Flotsam of the Mind

After months of work (and delay), I moved this into the foyer today.

Drop-Leaf Table - Flotsam of the Mind

You can see that it is a perfect fit.

Overhead View of Drop-Leaf Table - Flotsam of the Mind

I stalled on the project for months when I reached a challenging part. The amazing Holly from Storywood Designs advised me how to get over the hump and finish the table if I ever got done sanding it. She told me that the tabletop and feet were walnut and that I'd chosen a gem. What beginner's luck. There would be no paint on this table.

Pedestal of Drop-Leaf Table - Flotsam of the Mind

With Holly's advice and a few more phone calls to Dad, I finished the transformation last night--just in time to hold our ornament tree for the fragile ornaments I do not trust to hang on the Christmas tree. 

Table with Ornament Tree - Flotsam of the Mind

I mentioned before that I don't think pride is always a bad thing. I hope not, because I'm awfully proud of my new table. I only wish that I'd been more interested in this type of work when I was young and had a teacher on hand. As it is, I will keep calling Dad and proving that women can be handy too. Maybe Santa will make me my very own workshop for Christmas?


  1. You did an outstanding job. You made your Dad proud.

  2. Cynthia, it is absolutely beautiful! You should be so proud of it... I'm proud of you for following through and finishing it up!

  3. Susie: Nice job!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. Beautiful! My mom and I recently refinished my kitchen table, and I am proud of the finished product, too. I also know that it will always be a reminder of the time we spent together, and that is even more beautiful than the table.

    1. I know exactly what you mean. My first furniture project was a beat up, water-damaged Craigslist armoire that I turned into a craft cabinet with my dad's help. The quality of the piece isn't particularly impressive, but the time spent together was.