Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
4/24/20 2:35 p.m.

Since you all know everything, I figured I'd pick your brains regarding a new project: refreshing/restoring an old 40's porcelain top kitchen table.

First, let me back up a bit.

My Uncle Bruno passed away this year on Jan 2nd, on his 89th birthday. I was really close with him, and I still haven't gotten used to not having him around. Growing up, I was always over his house. My home away from home, he had an amazing 3-story stucco villa-style house right on the beach in Hull, MA where he lived with my aunt and his two boys. We spent the most time on the enclosed porch, especially when the weather was nice. We always sat around an old table he had out there, either eating, sipping espresso, or just chatting. A few years back, the upkeep of the big house was too much for him, and his sons both had their own places, so he downsized to a much smaller house. A lot of that stuff in the house went into storage, including that table. I always told him that if he was ever getting rid of that table, please let me get a crack at it. It would match my kitchen perfectly, and it has a vintage country/diner vibe that my wife and I love.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago: My aunt called me and mentioned that before he passed, he wanted me to have the table. My cousin transported it from storage to my uncle's outdoor shed, where I picked it up last weekend. I am beyond excited to have it. It might not look like much, but generations of my family have sat at this table and shared good times.

And here it is.


The table is wood with a porcelain coated metal top, and is in rougher shape than I remember it. My aunt told me recently that this was their first kitchen table, bought second hand back in the early 1960's. It got relegated to porch duty sometime in the late 1970's. The legs had been painted around that time by my aunt, and there was a bunch of rust underneath the paint. Instead of having a leaf, part of the table slides out from the bottom, and extends to just over 5ft. The top is in really great shape, and so is the wood, although the paint is old.

The biggest problem is that it's crooked.







I have no idea how it got this way, or how to fix it. The wood itself looks fine, and it's not warped or anything. I'm thinking that I need to somehow adjust those metal plates that the legs attach to. Any thoughts?

Another thing is the condition of the metal legs.



This is after removing the house paint and cleaning up the rust. They are definitely in "20 footer" territory, but I'd like to make them look better if possible. I was thinking about a home electrolytic plating kit for this, or some type of coating.

Any ideas on how to get this thing looking good and straightening out the crookedness?

ThurdFerguson (Freeloader)
ThurdFerguson (Freeloader) Reader
4/24/20 3:50 p.m.

Was it crooked when you and your uncle sat at it or did it happen during storage?  If it was this way when you sat at it with him, I'd leave it crooked.

NOHOME
NOHOME MegaDork
4/24/20 4:20 p.m.

Was it crooked when you and your uncle sat at it or did it happen during storage?  If it was this way when you sat at it with him, I'd leave it crooked.

 

Yeah this would be my thoughts!

Try metal polish on the legs. It might not make them perfect. but patina has value because it is part of an object's story. Anything you do to this table is akin to changing the words in a history book.

 

If by "Crooked" you mean it rocks a bit, then sure, take a look at how the legs fasten and adjust, be the same as setting the valves on a classic car, not really changing the history. If the legs are not adjustable in any way, I would try a short piece of clear plastic tube slit and put over the guilty leg.

 

Pete

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
4/24/20 4:51 p.m.

The "crookedness" is in relation to the top and the wood sides of the table. As you can see, it's definitely off.




Back when he had it, it was definitely not crooked; this would have drove him nuts! I think adjusting the metal brackets that hold the legs in may play a part in straightening it out. At least, I hope.

And as far as the rusty legs go, I did try some polish on one of them. It didn't help. What did help a little is rubbing tin foil on the rough spots. It looks a little better, but not as good as it could.

NOHOME
NOHOME MegaDork
4/24/20 5:02 p.m.

Still not getting the crooked aspect. Tapping out.

 

Pete

jgrewe
jgrewe Reader
4/24/20 5:24 p.m.

It looks like you can remove the top from the frame somehow.  I would take a square and start throwing it against corners to see where the crooked starts and ends.  

Looks like chrome legs? get them re-chromed any other finish will be a compromise.  Even the "chrome" look powder coating just looks like a really nice silver paint job.  If painting them is the only answer right now maybe try to match the blue from the pattern on top instead of the white.

Eurotrash_Ranch
Eurotrash_Ranch Reader
4/24/20 7:19 p.m.

Can you carefully flip it upside down on the carpet and take a picture of the entire underside? One that shows the "extension" wood framework and it's relation to the legs? I am guessing that the top was unfastened (maybe to move it into storage) and was quickly re-attached slightly askew at a later date. More pictures may help shed some light. 

Neat table!

bluej (Forum Supporter)
bluej (Forum Supporter) UberDork
4/24/20 7:29 p.m.
Eurotrash_Ranch said:

Can you carefully flip it upside down on the carpet and take a picture of the entire underside? One that shows the "extension" wood framework and it's relation to the legs? I am guessing that the top was unfastened (maybe to move it into storage) and was quickly re-attached slightly askew at a later date. More pictures may help shed some light. 

Neat table!

Yeah, this. Need some better pics w/ more light on the underside.

DeadSkunk  (Warren)
DeadSkunk (Warren) PowerDork
4/24/20 7:40 p.m.

It doesn't look like the corner plates are the issue to me. It looks like the top isn't square with the wood sub-structure. How is the top fastened down?

dculberson (Forum Supporter)
dculberson (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
4/24/20 8:32 p.m.

Cool table! I don't think I've ever seen one quite like it. I see the crooked you're talking about, the legs are askew relative to the top. You're just gonna have to get in there and measure to figure out where the crooked starts. I think restoring it would be just fine as I'm sure that your uncle would have wanted it nice if it was in his kitchen. 

APEowner
APEowner Dork
4/24/20 8:35 p.m.

I'm having trouble wrapping my head around what I'm seeing in the pictures as far as what's crooked is concerned so I can't help there but I'm goign to jump in with those who suggest getting the legs re-chromed.  That's really the only acceptable fix and while it won't be cheap I think it'll be money well spent in this case.  Assuming you have the funds to do it of course.

Purple Frog (Forum Supporter)
Purple Frog (Forum Supporter) Reader
4/24/20 9:24 p.m.

The porcelain top must fasten to the the wooden frame with some form of fastener.  Check that out so you can readjust to get the top square with the frame.  Be careful with that top.  So few that old don't have chips.  It is a beauty.

In my mind i keep repeating the mantra : "Respect the rust"

So, i'm thinking keep the patina on the legs. Its part of the story.   

But, to restore to "new".  Take the legs off and have them chromed.

Tony Sestito
Tony Sestito PowerDork
4/25/20 9:17 p.m.

Ok, I am an idiot.

Turns out, the table top is attached to the wood base with wooden slides. This shot is of the left side of the table, and there are three horizontal pieces of wood there to the left of the vertical center brace. The horizontal pieces are grooved on the outside for the tabletop slides, which is also how the top is held to the bottom. 

One of the tabletop slides was not where it needed to be when the table was upright.

It's hard to tell in this pic, but there's a gap under the leg mount between the slide and where it's supposed to sit. This was what was making it crooked.

With the mystery solved, in the kitchen it went. 

I set up a pot of espresso and a pic of my uncle and I goofing around when I was younger on the table. I think my uncle would like this. 

As you can see, the tabletop looks really great; it's in amazing shape for being 80-90 years old. The table really looks good in there as-is. I am not sure I should mess with it! 

 

bluej (Forum Supporter)
bluej (Forum Supporter) UberDork
4/25/20 10:15 p.m.

Do a little something to help the legs, but otherwise send it.. back to the kitchen. (?)

Aaron_King
Aaron_King PowerDork
4/26/20 8:52 a.m.

That is a really cool table, glad it was an easy fix.

11GTCS
11GTCS Reader
4/26/20 5:57 p.m.

The top matches the floor tile in your kitchen.  That’s awesome!

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