In the last couple of months we have done some work on our back yard. We hadn't planned on doing any updates back there until maybe next year--after all, this year is about the inside of the house--but sometimes one thing leads to another...
After a freak late-season hail storm we had to get a new roof. The roof to the back porch also needed to be replaced, but we didn't want to roof a porch we didn't want to keep, so Donnie replaced the old porch. In three days! That led to putting some stone out to extend the porch area and cover some grass-less dirt, which led to adding some grass, which led to planting some new pots to set on the new stone...
So now that our outdoor space was looking a little more inviting, we started spending more time back there. Maybe even eating a meal outside if it wasn't too hot.
And that's what led to today's project. We bought our outdoor table when we lived in Indiana, and when there were only three of us.
We love our little table with its cute curly iron legs, but at 30x30 inches, it's kind of a joke now that there are six of us, and sometimes more if we have family over. Ok, I'll be real. It is ridiculously tiny.
On top of that, the tile top was looking a little shabby.
This damage happened one winter when we got 10 inches of snow in a single day. Mexican tile just wasn't made for cold weather.
I knew I wanted to work with my old table, and since I didn't want to spend any more of my home-improvement budget than I had to, I got a little creative.
I found a stack of leftover 1x4's stashed in the garage. I think there were 5 of them. I cut each one to 5ft long, the length of my new table top.
But there was a good bit left over from each cut (3ft), so I used pocket holes to screw them together, end to end, to make one long board. That's where the patchwork comes in.
Then I cut those to 5ft too. I needed 10 boards total to cover my 30-inch table with a little overhang, so I had to buy a couple new ones, but this could easily be done with all re-purposed or leftover lumber.
Once I had 10 boards cut at 5ft (60 inches) each, I laid them out how I wanted them.
I alternated the solid boards with the patchwork boards, and I made sure that each end was also a solid board, just to make sure there wouldn't be too much stress on those joined pieces.
I made pocket holes in each of the boards to screw the whole thing together in a solid sheet. This took a little bit of time. Picture this: I was working around 4 kids while Donnie was out of town, so I had to stop and start A LOT. It was like: drill holes in one board, unload the dishwasher, drill holes in one board, fold a load of laundry, feed the baby, drill holes in one board, break up a fight, etc. It got a little crazy town at times, but it is impossible to get anything done if I'm not willing to work around the crazy.
I was also working on the living room floor so I kept having to say, "Stop running across that table top! Don't step on those boards! That is not a balance beam! No you can't pretend that board is a light saber!" Stuff like that. I was glad when this step was finished.
After all the holes were drilled, I screwed them together. This was the fun part, as I watched the boards become a solid piece. Seriously the pocket hole system is really genius.
After I had made the solid top, I needed to make the frame for the old table to fit into. I measured and traced the old top onto my new top. I probably should have given myself an extra 1/8 inch each way, as the fit was VERY tight at the end. But it worked even without that.
I made the frame from 1x2's. The measurements for the 30-inch table frame were 2 boards at 30" and two cut at 31.5". I didn't have a counter-sinking drill bit (is that even what it's called??) so I used my pocket hole drill to make gorgeous holes in the tops of the 1x2's so the screws wouldn't show at the end. I love those bright ideas that pop into your head at exactly the moment you need them!
Once I screwed the frame together, I tried it on the table. I'm glad I did this, because there was only one direction that it would fit. I marked the table top so I'd know which way to turn it at the end.
I lined up the frame with the pencil marks I'd made and screwed the frame straight to the top using the same 1 1/4" screws as the rest of the project.
I know one of the whole purposes of pocket holes is that you don't have to fill them in because they are hidden under the project, but I kept picturing bugs making nests in those cozy little crevices. So I filled them all up with spackle and let it dry.
Then it was time for the finish. After sanding my heart out, softening the corners and making sure all the end boards were nice and flush, I wiped on a coat of Early American stain. I did the underside too, at least on the outside of the frame, where it might show if someone bent down to pick up their dropped corn on the cob at dinner.
Then I set the tabletop in place over the old table, and brushed on a slightly-wobbly coat of white. I followed the joined lines with my brush, leaving the tiniest bit of stained wood showing.
I got the idea for this finish from Ashley at the Handmade Home. (In fact, when I found this, I was surprised to see that she had made a very similar table topper for her patio fire pit!) I gave it a second coat of white, and then sanded the entire thing with a super-fine-grit paper (220), just to expose a little more of the grain and make the paint feel extra smooth.
The last step was to rub on/rub off a thin coat of stain. (I did the same with the turquoise bench and the library shelves.) It helped to tone down the just-painted-bright-white look, so that it blended better with the natural tones of the backyard.
I am so happy with how this turned out. Since I used mostly what I had from other projects (paint, stain, wood), I think the entire thing cost me about $15. And this table, although it is still a fairly small table, is so much more practical. I have already spent hours out here--reading, watching the kiddos play in the sprinklers, planning new projects, or serving lunch now that there is actually room for the people AND the food.
At least, that's how I was using it before the triple-digit heat wave finally hit. Now I'm admiring the table through the window, from the comfort of my air-conditioned living room. Maybe I'll be able to sit out there again in October.