It was definitely a labor of love. He enjoys building and working with wood, but I think even he would admit that the project was labor intensive and time consuming. He used all reclaimed lumber from an old chicken house on our property. The building is beyond repair with caved in walls and holes in the roof. We use part of it for storage, but we often take advantage of the rest for extra building materials. Its walls yielded some very old and weathered oak and pine boards. They certainly didn’t look like much when they were pulled off the walls. They were full of rusting hardware. If I had not seen them in that state, I would not have believed that my beautiful table was once rough, weathered, and warped boards.
My dad diligently pried out numerous nails, hooks, and even some chains. Some were deeply embedded in the wood. He cut the boards to size and decided which ones could work together. This was pretty difficult because many of the boards were broken and the edges had to be trimmed off. He fitted and glued them together, trying to make them as straight as possible. He drilled out the nail holes and inserted small homemade dowels to fill them. Then there was the endless sanding. Wow! There was a lot of sanding!
When the table and bench surfaces were finally flat and even, I got to choose my own custom finish. My dad decided to use a homemade stain that he made himself from steel wool soaked in vinegar. I think it gives the oak a slightly purplish undertone. The different woods took the stain differently and the result is a somewhat multicolored surface with shades of caramel, charcoal, warm gray, and dark purple. A clear polyurethane finish was applied after the stain, giving it a shiny high-gloss finish. The polyurethane smoothed over some of the imperfections in the wood, but I really like the fact that it is not perfectly smooth. It has a few slight dips and small nicks and grooves created by its previous life. They give it so much character.
A farmhouse table is such a classic piece of furniture. I am confident that I will never grow tired of it. I can see my grandchildren sitting around it in years to come. Building with new wood could have certainly been easier, but it would not have the charm of my table. Its imperfections and varying colors are so beautiful. Its knots and dowel filled nail holes give it so much character. And it makes my little house finally feel like a farmhouse to me. Thank you dad!