A NEW HAND-RUBBED FINISH FOR AN OLD HEYWOOD WAKEFIELD TABLE

Mike talks about...

RESTORING A HEYWOOD WAKEFIELD LAZY SUSAN COCKTAIL TABLE

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What makes this piece worthy of restoration?

This is beautiful and versatile little table by the American mid-century powerhouse Heywood-Wakefield. The design was first introduced in 1947 when the company was creating their hallmark rounded curves, a style strongly influenced by French Art Deco. Like all their furniture, it is made of solid hardwood (in this case, American birch), with their famously durable craftsmanship. The ingenious lazy susan function is a surprising feature in such a solid piece. It short, it's a terrific mid-century table and certainly worthy of a new chapter.

 

What did it need?

The table itself was structurally sound but the finish was tired. The complete refinishing job it needed was also an opportunity to update the finish aesthetically. Though birch is prized for its strength, its tight grain makes it difficult to finish evenly (it becomes blotchy), which is why it is almost always given a painted-on factory finish that in today's sensibilities can make it feel less like the real wood that it actually is. And the blonde "wheat" color felt dated, not in the good way. I knew the piece was a great candidate for my dark polyurethane finish, which is hand-applied and hand-rubbed to an amazing gloss. It's an artisan finish that offers the same coverage with much more durability than the factory- applied one.

 

What steps did you take?

You can see me give a how-to video on this finish in the "About Mike" section. But here's a break-down...I completely disassembled the table in order to have optimal access to every nook and cranny, which allows for the cleanest and most professional results. Then every piece had to be hand-sanded with three different grits. I hand-applied four coats of finish, sanding lightly between each coat (an important, oft-ignored step). At last, I gave it the highly polished final coat, which involved a three stage hand-rubbing with beeswax and pumice. The result is the exceedingly smooth, mirror-like gloss you see here, which will repel liquid beautifully without diminishing the natural connection you feel with the wood.

 

This table is currently for sale.

 

 



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