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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:

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.
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!

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15 Responses to Reader Sara’s Refinished Heywood Wakefield Table

  1. Queen of Fifty Cents Reply

    April 14, 2009 at 6:54 am

    Wow! When I saw the headline, I have to admit my first thought was “Oh no!” at H-W being refinished. I take it all back! The oh-no goes to the original vandals who gave it the dark stain. Your reader Sara is a saint! I’m so impressed that she perservered with all that sanding. The results are absolutely gorgeous!

  2. RetroRuth Reply

    April 14, 2009 at 8:25 am

    I agree – the dark stain was a sin. I was floored by the finished product, it looks so amazing! Hubs and I were so jealous!

  3. Sara in AZ Reply

    April 14, 2009 at 7:32 pm

    Queen of Fifty Cents – Thanks so much for the compliment on my table, I really appreciate it! 🙂

    Ruth – Thank You for showing my table (and all my work!) in your blog, it is so very kind of you, and it is an honor to be featured! 🙂

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  7. Deirdre in DC Reply

    September 5, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    How many coats of the eBay stain did it take? Two? Thanks in advance for your reply!

    • Sara In AZ Reply

      September 5, 2012 at 7:05 pm

      Hi Deirdre, You know it really is a personal preference. In the above project I did use 4 coats. The directions for the stain says 4 coats, but you definitely do not have to do that many. I have done less than 4 coats on some of my projects, and sometimes I do more – it really just depends. The main thing with adding more coats is that it hides the wood grain more and more – so if you like seeing more of the wood grain you will definitely do OK with just 2 coats.I hope that helps you out, lets me know if you have anymore questions!

  8. Susan Reply

    December 15, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    Hi there –

    I’m so tickled to see beautifully yours turned out! I think I can tackle my grandmother’s now.

    Do you happen to still have the information for the guy you got the materials from?

    Congratulations on your big success!


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  12. Shannon Budzynski Reply

    April 14, 2016 at 10:42 am

    Hi Sara! Beautiful job on that table and chairs! I just picked up the EXACT same set and am determined to get it back to it’s original luster. My set has not been touched since 1955, the original fabric is still on. Question for you, I have a few white water spots on the leaves. Sounds like I am going to have to refinish based on everything I’m reading. Have you ever had any success removing water spots from HW original finish? Next question, I’m guessing you did your sanding by hand? I need to decide whether to chemical strip or sand. Afraid of sanding with a sander because it may damage the wood. Would love your opinion. I received your name from the gentleman on Ebay who mixed the HW stain/finish. Thanks!

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