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February 23, 2017

Reader Sara’s Refinished Heywood Wakefield Table – Thursday Retro Rewind

Since Mom’s Time Capsule Condo Series wrapped up last Thursday I thought I’d keep going with the “Retro Rewind” on Thursday’s and re-post some of my other favorite posts from the past. I know we’ve gained so many new readers since my first posts were done on refinishing my Heywood Wakefield furniture, so I thought it would be fun to re-visit all of my H-W refinishing posts from the beginning! The post below, on refinishing my H-W dining room set, takes us way, WAY back to the beginnings of No Pattern Required…..this was initially published all the way back in April of 2009….and you can see below – I wasn’t even a writer back then….just a “faithful reader”! This large dining table and chairs were the VERY first H-W pieces that I ever refinished…and boy, was I terrified! As you can see from all of the date stamps on the pictures below I bought the set in November of 2003 and did not finish it until June of  2008….almost 5 years! Back when I bough this set (good lord, almost 14 years ago!) there wasn’t a whole lot of info available online about refinishing H-W so I think that was one of my issues in getting this project completed…I just wasn’t exactly sure what to do. Eventually I threw caution to the wind and started the project. I figured out what worked best for me along the way and luckily found the awesome Heywood Wakefield stain from seller needful_useful_things ! The last sentence from my e-mail (below) to Ruth I wrote ” 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.” Oh boy, while I have not ever refinished another dining room set to date, little did I know back then the rabbit hole of refinishing I would soon go down! HA! 


By Sara In AZ

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:

Hi Ruth,
Here are the table and Chairs when we bought them in 2003.e00edffd
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!e04f
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.
And finally, the Heywood Wakefield Dining Room set here at the ‘Retro Ranch’!
Stay tuned – more H-W refinishing posts coming up each Thursday……and  to cap it all off a few secret surprise refinishing posts that y’all have never seen before!

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9 Responses to Reader Sara’s Refinished Heywood Wakefield Table – Thursday Retro Rewind

  1. Lisa Reply

    February 23, 2017 at 5:37 am

    I never read this before! I love it so much!! 🙂

  2. Susan Reply

    February 23, 2017 at 12:49 pm

    Sara…. pat yourself on the back for a job well done. The table/chairs look amazing, as do your pinch pleat barkcloth curtains (I still cannot believe you were able to sew them yourself). I’m blown away at your talent and skills. Well done my dear! Well done.


  3. Susan Reply

    February 23, 2017 at 12:51 pm

    I hit POST COMMENT too fast.

    Is that Sputnik chandelier vintage or a retro replica? Either way, I love it.

    BTW, did you see my email re: retro placemats and/or tablecloths?

  4. Eartha Kitsch Reply

    February 23, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    I’ll always say that your attention to detail is amazing and just reading this again exhausts me – again! 😉 Thank God you don’t have table puking cats like we do. You’re an ace restorer.

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      February 25, 2017 at 3:06 pm

      Thank you Eartha, though I’d say your attention to detail could rival mine! And Ha! I suppose we are blessed with a cat that does not puke on the table – she is however pretty adept at puking everywhere else! 😉

  5. Justin Reply

    February 23, 2017 at 6:32 pm

    An amazing job!! what part of the refinishing process do you find the most complicated? the stripping of the old finish or the re-staining?

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      February 25, 2017 at 3:11 pm

      Thank you Justin! You know, that is a really, really hard question. I guess I’d have to say the re-staining…..I am a total perfectionist and I want the stain to look “factory” H-W…..it is definitely hard getting the furniture back to that point, but SO worth it in the end!

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