The Two Dollar Table

The table was sitting in a pile off in a corner. It was part of multi-family estate auction. It had been dragged out of an unheated North Dakota barn that it had been stored in for years and had been brought to this salesbarn for auction to the highest bidder. Unfortunately exposure to the elements wreck havoc on furniture. Glue joints fail, veneer peels, metal rusts, and the old finish flakes off.

dollar table

My new project

When the table came up for sale no one bid on it. The auctioneer went to move it and the top came apart in his hands and one of the legs fell off- people started to laugh and walk away. Because it was solid oak, I felt at least I could use it for parts so I made a bid of two dollars. The auctioneer sighed in relief at the bid and yelled sold!

I brought the table home to my shop and began the inspection. The good news was all the parts were there. The bad news was every glue joint has failed and someone had tried to do a repair on the legs with 16 penny spikes and bailing wire. I definitely had brought home a project.

Here are some of the steps needed to rebuild the table.

Reglued top

Reglued top with holes and cracks puttied

reglued shelf

Lower shelf repaired and waiting for final sanding

refinish legs

Legs repaired and awaiting stripping


Legs after boiling overnight in a diluted acid solution.


Top sanded ready for finish.

After approximately 30 hours of clamping, glueing, sanding, staining and hand rubbing with Tung Oil here is the finished project.

Final Product

Finished table

5 thoughts on “The Two Dollar Table

    • I actually used an old butchers knife to mechanically scrape the old varnish of the legs and dig out the flutes. Then I applied a light coat of stripper on them and wiped them off with steel wool. Finally washed the legs with mineral spirits and a 3M Green Scouring Pad to get rid of the stripper residue followed by a light sanding with 220 grit sandpaper.

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