Friday, May 3, 2013

Current Project #2: Oak Chateau Table with Drawer

I always have so many projects on the go ... restoring, painting, sourcing ... that I thought I might share a few of them with you.

Some of my projects never seem to reach a completion, so some of these 'shares' will be just a work in progress~!  But as I share them, I hope to put a timeline or some level of accountability back into finishing - and so I am also hoping that this will help me turn over a few of these projects that seem to be languishing....

I love the patina of the weathered french oak of this old side table, so today's share is not about painting, but about how little or how much to do to this.

And as the table is still quite sound, I am resisting the urge to even give this a wax, as this natural old grey oak is what I love most about the piece, and it is likely to "orange" with a little oil or wax!  I may do a test patch in an inconspicuous place just to see ....

I also like the unfolding the history of this piece when you start to read what it has to tell you. Beautiful mortice and tenon joints and their pinned corner show this was originally made without a nail in sight.

And the lovely traditional french metal lock for the drawer, though the key is long since lost.  Underneath reveals more too: that this is very likely to have come from a chateau in the region of Normandy where I found it.

Large houses usually numbered their furniture: as you can imagine with so many rooms to take care of and maintain, it would have necessary for someone to keep track of what pieces were to go where.  And so chateau furniture is likely to have markings on the underside indicating the chateau name, and numbered according to the room they were in - this one has "HB", "M_184" and "48".

Given the current patina, and this numbering, this is likely to have come from the 'working' part of a large house.

I found this in an outdoor yard of a dealer in the Normandy countryside.  Left out in all seasons, and considered to have reached the end of it's life, mostly because of the large oil stain on the top.

I don't always know exactly what to do with a particular piece, and so I am hoping in the spirit of sharing that I may have some feedback in return?  Some advice or ideas from you also as to what may work?

So now, what to do about that oil stain?

I have two ideas: My first is to replace the top with new french oak and have it milled to the same shape as the original.  This would also remove the broken corners and the old nails, and make this a lovely stable table for many more years to come.  

Problem solved?  Well, ....  I am left with the change in patina; regardless of how much 'weathering' the top gets it will not catch up the hundred or so years in a matter of weeks, to look like an old piece again!

A friend suggested they would leave it as it is, accept the broken corners as part of the piece and try to remove the oil stain.  I have heard that methylated spirits is able to do this - it soaks into the wood and pushes out the oil to the surface, and does this without expanding and damaging the wood like water would do.  Sounds tricky but something I could try.

What do you suggest?  What would you do?


PS: Miss Lilly as usual wanted to be a part of the action when I take photos!  I wonder what she thinks I am doing?  When I tell her to move she looks away, as if by not seeing me then she can't be expected to hear me!


  1. Hi Jennifer

    I love the table. Personally I wouldn't put a different top on's part of its history, including the oil stain! Maybe apply a small amount of metho to the oil and see? Looks lovely as is anyway in your living area, you seem to have successfully hidden the oil patch anyway with lovely pieces on top! :)

    Best wishes, Alison

    1. The marks are 'kind of' hidden but not really when you are standing in the room. I think I will try a small amount to see how it goes. Jen

  2. AnonymousMay 04, 2013

    Why not try something like Annie Sloan chalk paint worked into the grain on the top of the desk? If you used grey or white, the colour wouldn't jar with the natural weathering of the rest of the piece and could go some way to obscuring the oil staining. Good luck!

    1. Another good idea. I do like the Annie Sloan paints. As you say, if I used a grey one it will keep the colour tone fairly even. I think i'll still have to remove some more of the oil first though, to get it to stick well and not sit on the surface?

  3. HI Jen

    Now here's a familiar looking table! :) How the dealer would smile to see his wobbly little table ascend from the junkyard to the pages of a chic australian blog!

    Love the pictures of it in your house, those colours are all just perfect together

    look forward to seeing what you decide on the table top, I thought the chalk paint idea was interesting depending on how the oil combines with the paint ...


    1. Hi Sharon, You are so sweet .... 'chic' {giggle} ... hardly how of I think of myself or my blog! Glad you like! Yes, there are always a few special treasures in each shipment that 'grow on me' and I can't bear to see go. I'm leaning towards the chalk paint too, but need to try the methylated spirits approach first to see how much comes out. Am planning to be over your way very soon, will email you - hope our schedules allow time to catch up!! Jen xx


I love reading your comments and feedback, thanks for taking the time to respond!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...