Upcycling an unloved mahogany table

When a piece of furniture grows old, unloved and a bit decrepit, the temptation is to throw it away and buy something new.

That’s what happened to a 1920s mahogany side table that our second intermediate student Fiona Gilfillan found in an auction.

Fiona, who lives locally to the Chippendale school and is a keen woodworking hobbyist, is a self-employed business change management consultant, who is taking a sabbatical to lift her woodworking skills to the next level.

She bought the neglected table for £5 and, as part of her month-long course with us, has learned many of the restoration techniques that she now hopes to use on other pieces of furniture.

Her first task, under the expert guidance of course tutor Alan McGovern, was to disassemble the table and drill out the pegs and dowels.  The top of the table was repaired, and a crack in the drawer carefully bandaged with a strip of calico.

The dust of ages was cleaned off with methylated spirit and wire wool, with the beautiful patina of the wood brought back to life with careful stain matching, finished off with shellac and wax.

Here’s how the table looked before restoration:

Her final project on the course is to design and make an elm and ash console table – and we’ll bring you pictures of the finished piece.

Meanwhile, her old-new mahogany table proves that, with a bit of expertise and TLC, even an old and unloved piece of furniture can be given a new lease of life.

Details of our new intermediate course and an application form can now be found here, with students able to specify, subject to demand, when they would like to start.

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