Monday, May 20, 2013

550 Rustic Farmhouse Table

Best ever antique finish.
Close view of the end; this is not reclaimed wood.  Reclaimed wood has issues and must be used very selectively if at all.  There is the ever-present risk of ruining tool knives on hidden staples, nails, birdshot and who-knows-what.  Also, reclaimed wood is not as dry as kiln dried wood and hasn't had water forced out the way only kiln-drying will do.  Wood that starts out having too much moisture content will shrink, crack, distort, and do funny stunts over time; also, if extra moisture is present, finishes will not penetrate as deeply.  Therefore the bulk of our wood we use is new and from a trusted local source.  The "cracks" and other texture marks you see here were done by hand; wood is solid alder and is newly harvested and kiln dried.  
We use alder for a great many of our "antique" pieces because it is readily available, inexpensive, environmentally friendly, and can do a great job of imitating antique fruitwoods.  
Two secrets to an authentic look.  1)  texture 2) color variety.  This is a "green" or environmentally friendly living, penetrating finish; food safe, and performs like crazy.  You will not need to use coasters or placemats but instead freely serve wine, gravy, ketchup and coffee.  Staining substances penetrate reluctantly, and most of the time will blend with the pre-existing distressing.  Liquids penetrate reluctantly, but will also leave the finish (breathing in and breathing out water vapor) without becoming trapped under a crust.  Trapped water vapor under a crust finish  is the source of unsightly rings.  Since this is a penetrating finish, rings are reluctant to form, only doing so under conditions more extreme than normal dining.   Damage is expected as a result of living -- all incidental damage should blend in with existing distressing.  Any damage that is bothersome or more severe can be easily and inexpensively repaired in-home.  
Alder is easy to plane by hand.  This table was hand planed, and the tool marks are worn away so that they are barely discernible.  Alder is easy to coax into an aged fruitwood look when the right colors and effects are applied.  
Showing apron detail and corbel at leg joints.  
Note the round pegs at each joint.  The boards look like separate pieces of wood, and in fact are separate distinct boards; however they are tightly joined together so that spilled liquids do not run through to the floor below.  They may look as if there is a space between them, but the space occurs only at the top edge, not all the way through.

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