April 14, 2009
Reader Sara’s Refinished Heywood Wakefield Table
Oh my God! I got the most amazing email the other day from faithful reader, Sara! She had mentioned in a comment that she had recently refinished a Heywood Wakefield table, and when I asked her to send me pictures, this is what I got:
Here are the table and Chairs when we bought them in 2003.
The original finish was ‘Wheat’, kind of a light blonde color. Somewhere along the way, someone thought it would be really neat to just rub a whole lot of dark stain on the table and chairs. They must have taken off the original varnish layer, or maybe it was just worn down. Anyway, it was done in a really poor way, maybe you cannot tell in the pics, but the finish was really inconsistent. So this led to A LOT of sanding……………. (The original upholstery chair covers were hidden under 3 layers of newer covers, they were not in perfect condition, but I kept them on anyway because they were a cool copper/red color with that nubby fabric.)
As you can see it took me just over a year to even start the sanding. I did a lot of research on the net as to how to take the old finish off and it seems like it was about 50/50 to strip it off with chemicals vs. sanding. I don’t really like using a lot of chemicals, so I went for the sanding. I had to sand the old dark finish off starting with 60 grit sandpaper. It was nearly impossible to get all of that dark out!!! After the rough sand, I had to sand it with 2 more different sandpaper grits – once with 100 grit and once with 220 grit. So each and every piece had to be sanded 3 times!!! YIKES!
So as you can see, it took me over 2 years to get this table and chairs entirely sanded down – 3 times for each piece! It was a REALLY slow process, very tedious. Especially getting into all of the nooks and crannies. The pic taken on 2/28 was when I had finally gotten everything sanded and I was totally finished. The chair on the left in the 2/28 pic was a Heywood I had picked up at an antique store for only $25. It totally needed to be refinished too, so I just threw it in with everything else to sand! Other stuff came up during this whole sanding process too, and my time was diverted away from the project. My Mom moved here to Az from Texas and we had to settle her in, so I was not able to sand for a long time. I have to say that my husband is truly a freakin saint too, to have lived with this total mess for so long. He is just the absolute best and I love him to pieces!
I was not sure what stain to use on this set, because I really wanted it to match (as closely as possible) the original stain. I debated trying to have some stain mixed up at Sherwin Wiliams – or something like that. But I found this guy , on e-bay, who actually sells stain to match old Heywood stains. He sells stain to match both ‘Wheat’ and ‘Champagne’ so I got the Wheat. His stain is also really nice because the varnish layer is mixed right into the stain, that way you do not have to stain and then put on a top coat after the stain. I was DETERMINED to have this table stained and done before the REALLY hot Arizona summer days came! I absolutely did not want to be staining when it was 110 outside! The table legs were actually the last things I stained, so I was done in the first 2 weeks of June last year. AND………………
Ta Da! Here is the newly stained Heywood table. So, what, 5 years after buying the table it is finally all done! You cannot even know how glad I am to have this project over with. I really do love this table and I am so glad we bought it, but I could never refinish another dining room set again. I do have another small refinishing project to do, I bought 2 end tables when I was just in Texas, but that is a lot more manageable.
I love, love, LOVE it, Sara! Truly an inspiration to those of us who want or need to refinish some furniture! And they look great in your dining room. What an amazing find and an amazing story! Can’t wait to see pictures of the treasures you found in Texas.
If you have a great vintage find or a restoration story you want to share, feel free to email me
with your story and your pictures if you want to share it on the blog!