Here's the story of some lovely tables
Who were discarded as if they were rubbish.
All of them were made of hardwood, like the others,
The recent one was Tasmanian Oak.
|The Table Bunch|
It is a fun thing to be able see potential in discarded objects. And for connoisseurs with skill, we live in a truly target rich environment. I’m constantly amazed at the sheer quality of useful items that are discarded rather than being repaired or repurposed. And I began thinking about that matter this week as we were applying Tung Oil to the new second hand hardwood dining table that we purchased for $100.
It was the editor that pointed out to me just how many tables we had purchased second hand and were now in daily use! The interesting thing about all of the restored and repaired tables here is that they all have their own story to tell. And it is an interesting collection of short stories which highlights the sheer waste going on all around us and also the sheer opportunity for those that are prepared to put in a bit of sweat equity.
Waste on the scale of today is a fairly new experience for us. Way back in the early 1990’s when grunge and garage bands ruled the airways and the recession “that we had to have” raged on, the editor and I were both working in uncertain employment taking whatever jobs were available. We both studied at University at night and were desperately trying to pay off the student debts that we had been rapidly accruing. In those days we needed a table to study at and so we purchased this bright blue table which was clearly second hand for about $70.
|The bright blue table as it first appeared to us when purchased over 20 years ago|
Observant readers with good eyesight, may be able to spot the pink velour couch just inside the door. That couch was pretty dodgy and some of the feet were even missing. Being the enterprising sorts that we are, we simply propped the couch on a few bricks and threw a sheet over it (which can also be seen in the photo). You may also notice the new timbers sitting on the concrete, as well as more timber inside the house which were being used to lift up the rear half of the house which had been slowly sinking into the clay and rotting.
Now I’m not particularly partial to bright blue tables as they clash with, well, everything really. That table offended my sensibilities, but it was the best that we could acquire. I should also mention that the vinyl linoleum that the previous owners had thoughtfully tacked onto the surface was a nice touch, but it smelled really badly of a very old and very dirty kitchen, that may have been washed at least once in the past four decades. The linoleum had to go and soon, which was why the table was sitting outside in the photo.
The vinyl linoleum was easily removed and discarded and it was then that we discovered that the table top had unfortunately warped – which was why it was covered over with linoleum in the first place. We could live with the warp far more easily than the stink from the linoleum, and so the table was sanded down to reveal that – we believe – the timber was very old and quite rare Australian teak wood. The table received many good coats of oil and was then used as a desk for the next two decades.
Regular readers will recall that recently we purchased a large downgraded slab of artificial stone for use as a benchtop in the kitchen. That stone was cut to size by the importer and as part of the deal we were required to take the offcut (i.e. the short end) as the importer did not want to go to the expense of disposing of it. That stone offcut fitted onto the old bright blue table base perfectly, and with a bit of additional structure supporting the additional weight of the stone offcut, the table looks like this today:
|The bright blue table finally received a new stone top after almost two decades of sterling service|
The old timber top from that bright blue table was such beautiful timber that we looked for a way to repurpose it. In such situations the local tip shop comes in handy and yet again they came through with the goodies! For $5 we picked up an old round steel garden table that had a very brittle wicker top. That wicker may have been brittle, but wow, what was left of it was hard to remove from the steel. In the end, we used a gas torch and simply burnt off the brittle wicker.
Over the past week or so we cut a round section from the top of the old bright blue table and attached it to the steel new base. The timber was sanded back and then received lashings of Oil! A garden table for placing ones cider on, on warm summer evenings soon rose from the ashes of a dodgy wicker and steel table.
|A round section of the old bright blue table was attached to the steel legs which we purchased at the tip shop|
That old bright blue desk had worked hard (like us) over the past two decades and it was previously used as our main work desk, but as the years went on we decided that perhaps it wasn’t a good look for our business.
The editor went on the hunt to find a new table and in only a matter of weeks we tracked down a guy wanting to sell a solid, locally made, handcrafted, European beech table for only $80. We can help you with that problem, my friend! My gut feeling was that the table was sold at a ridiculously low price because down here the only time a person ever sees that particular timber is as a product of a very large Swedish conglomerate – and even then those items of furniture are usually veneers or vinyl wraps over chipboard. This one was the real deal as it was a solid hardwood and it bore the very respectable moniker of the craftsmen, who are still in business today. Again, the table received the Fernglade Farm treatment of a bit of sanding and some oil.
|The solid European beech table we scored for only $80|
The editor was very wise as she purloined that European beech desk for her own purposes. At that time, I was using the previously bright blue table with its warped top. Clearly change was required in order to restore the balance of the household. The editor as usual came to the rescue and tracked down a table made from Rubber hardwood scraps for $37. Rubber scrap is a great recycled timber because the tree scraps are generally burnt in the plantations at the end of their useful life.
That Rubber tree hardwood table had been knocked around a bit and had many scratches, and so we sanded it back to the raw timber and then oiled it again. And this is the spot where I write and work for most of the year. Concerned readers may note that balance had been restored to the household.
|The restored table of Rubber tree hardwood is now used as my desk|
This week we began the slow process of applying multiple layers of Tung Oil to the new dining table. The new dining table replaces a much older Depression era (1930’s) table of about the same size which we have had for more than a decade. Unfortunately the veneer on the surface is beyond my skills to repair. Stress not readers! We will find a new home for the table, so all is not lost and it will be soon part of someone else’s story.
|The new dining table receives the first coat of glossy Tung Oil|
The new table was spotted by the editor for sale at $100. It had been used and abused. Also someone in the past had painted it with an unfortunate coat of acrylic walnut stain, which I reckon looks pretty dodgy, but was probably par for the course at the time. On a positive side the table was constructed locally in 1999 and was made from very solid Tasmanian Oak (the top is over 30mm thick (1.2 inches)) and showed no sign of any structural problems. Tasmanian Oak is a fancy name for a grab bag of local Eucalyptus species and a cynic may say that the “Oak” name was applied to lift the prestige of those local timber species. I believe the timber looks beautiful and has a very fine grain and also lots of features which you can see in the photo below (which was taken after five coats of glossy Tung Oil) such as fiddle-backing.
|The finish on the new dining table looks superb after five coats of glossy Tung Oil|
Of course sanding the walnut stain from all of the surfaces of that table was a huge job and applying Tung Oil to timber surfaces is a tricky and time consuming process. However, I have seen tables of such size but lesser quality timber in high end designer shops with asking prices in the thousands. It is mildly disturbing that such high quality older locally made items apparently have little market value.
That’s not all though, the next photo shows a small cast iron table which was rescued (from the Lost Tables home!) and is used by the editor and I to enjoy a quiet coffee at the end of the working day.
|A small cast iron table rescued from the Lost Tables home for free|
Incidentally, the steel chairs were locally handmade, and very solid steel items which we picked up second hand for about $40 per chair. They were made from very strange steel, because despite having been out in the weather for many years and in a black unpainted finish, they show absolutely no sign of rust and leave absolutely no marks. They are uncanny.
A local timber craftsman who sells his wares at the local hippy market produces beautiful items of timber from recycled and otherwise wasted timbers. He produced a round table top made from Western Australian Jarrah timber for $50 to which we attached a steel base which we recovered from the tip shop for $5. The cast iron French Regency chair ($99 from a local 'antique' shop) in the photo below is a favourite of the editors and she always points them out when she sees them, but, well, I am embarrassed to admit that it is not to my taste.
|A round table top was produced by a local guy who works the local hippy market from recycled Jarrah timber|
And then there was the 1950's steel table base which had been recovered from hard rubbish in the inner city. Who throws these perfectly good things out? Best of all the off cut from the artificial stone benchtop when the original kitchen was being constructed fitted it perfectly. It was a match made in heaven!
|The succulent table was constructed from a cast off steel table with an off cut from our original kitchen stone benchtop|
And then there was the Aegean 5000 overdrive table which the editor wanted so that we could enjoy coffee outside in the shade over high summer, but for some strange reason was painted a very unfortunate and culturally jarring gold colour ($80 with 4 unfortunately matching chairs - not the chairs in the photo, which are more of the handmade uncanny variety). I was very dubious of that colour but with a little bit of black metal paint, this glass table is the bizz!
|The glass table (now black) used for coffee outside in the shade over high summer|
Finally, there is the old and very common Australian outdoor steel garden table which was rescued again from hard rubbish. Every single one of those tables that I have seen have had timber planks which were originally painted in multiple bright primary colours, but by now are rotted out or well on their way to doing so. It was fortunate for that table that we had some very unusual and very old hardwood planks which simply refused to rot in the soil and so those planks were added to the table and all was soon good. If you ever receive a comment reply from me and I write that I am sitting in the orchard with the chickens, odds are this is where I will be.
|A very Australian garden table has been repaired and restored to better than its former glory|
People often ask me how do we do so much and the above stories are part of that answer. But I ask you the question: How do you do so little on so much?
That's the way we became the Table Bunch.
Oh my goodness, I’ve written so much… Here is a quick wrap up of the week’s activities:
A big storm hit the Eastern coast of Australia. It was huge. Completely massive and destructive in New South Wales, Queensland and Tasmania. And it produced the most beautiful morning skies here (Red skies in the morning, shepherds warning):
|The huge storm which travelled down the east coast of the continent produced the most beautiful morning skies|
Spare a thought for poor old Scritchy the boss dog who was very cold during the storm and had to snuggle up to Toothy her frenemy to keep warm during the cold days:
|Scritchy the boss dog keeps warm by snuggling up to the long haired Toothy|
When the rain finally stopped the excavations continued and they are now almost complete and ready to be turned into garden beds.
|The excavations are now almost complete and soon a new garden bed will take shape|
One of the garden beds had to be repaired as the shape was incorrect and manure kept falling off before the plants had a chance to get properly established.
|An existing garden bed was also repaired with excavations this week|
All of the plants in that bed were relocated to garden beds near to the chicken enclosure and the chickens were only too happy to assist with the pruning process.
|The chickens assisted by pruning all of the relocated plants from that garden bed|
And believe it or not, we even managed to construct another concrete step!
|Another concrete step was added to the new staircase this week|
The temperature outside now at about 8.00pm is 5.8’C (42.4’F). So far this year there has been 350.8mm (13.8 inches) which is up from last week’s total of 317.0mm (12.5 inches).
Solar PV Statistics (from 4.6kW of installed PV panels)
Tuesday - 7th June Batteries started at 77% full and 4.1kW was generated that day
Wednesday - 8th June Batteries started at 77% full and 3.8kW was generated that day
Thursday - 9th June Batteries started at 77% full and 6.0kW was generated that day
Friday - 10th June Batteries started at 84% full and 6.5kW was generated that day
Saturday - 11th June Batteries started at 84% full and 5.3kW was generated that day
Sunday - 12th June Batteries started at 83% full and 7.0kW was generated that day
Monday- 13th June Batteries started at 85% full and 6.9kW was generated that day