Mid-century Drop Leaf Table

I thought this table was going to be a quick flip, but I changed my design and it ended up taking more time than I initially planned. My first thought was to give it a fresh new coat of paint, but then I decided to strip and stain the top instead.


Whitney Birch
My first step for any project is to give it a thorough cleaning. And during that process I also inspect for any needed repairs. At the same time I am searching for clues as to the history of the piece.

Luckily this piece was stamped "Whitney Birch" with the number 1204. I came up blank with a Google search, so I researched some newspaper archives and was able to find an advertisement from 1948 for the exact table. It was part of a collection of Picturesque Colonial made of Whitney Birch in a warm cherry maple hue. The table was described as having a butterfly extension.
1948 Advertisement: Picturesque Colonial;
Whitney Birch in Warm, Cherry Maple Hue.
But over the years it had gone through some changes. The top was sprayed with an oil based bright white paint.

The base had a glaze or stain brushed on. Unfortunately, the brush strokes were obvious and haphazard throughout.

It appeared there were at one time two leaves, but those were long gone. But the table still offers lots of space when extended.

My initial plan was to repaint the entire table. But then I decided I wanted to stain the top, so paint removal was the next step. I used my orbital sander. I started with a 60-grit which usually does the trick, but this paint was stubborn and it was time consuming.

The major drawback to this, other than the difficulty of removing the white paint, was the paint on the underside of the drop leaves needed to be removed as well. It seemed like twice the work.

After fighting through removing the paint with 60-grit, I finally switched to 40-grit on the underside. I was worried it might damage the wood, but it actually did better overall.

I considered stripping the previously applied stain from the base, but decided it would be too time consuming and wouldn't be cost effective. So after all the paint was removed I painted the base in Graphite (Annie Sloan Chalk Paint). I later sealed it with clear and dark wax. Finally I stained the top in Antique Walnut (General Finishes).


I'm happy with the newly stained top and think it pairs nicely with the painted base.


The contrast looks a little stark in the bright light of the photos, but it's less of a contrast indoors.

I love the versatility of drop leaf tables. They can be tucked against a wall or behind a sofa . . .

partially extended . . .

or fully extended as needed.

 Here's a close up of the finished edge where the drop leaf meets the table.

The beautiful grain of the wood still shows through the dark stain.

I finished this project up right before Thanksgiving and just got around to taking photos. I will hang onto the table for now while I search for a set of chairs that are suitable to pair with it.


Popular Posts