MCM Surfboard Table with Milk Paint Finish

So this wasn’t supposed to be a blog post project. I didn’t take a lot of process photos. Maybe it is Mercury in Retrograde’s fault but this table has been A Learning Experience. So I decided to share what I have learned.  (This post contains affiliate links and I used some products for which I was compensated. Opinions all mine!) I have heard from clients in the past that people somehow think professionals don’t make mis-steps. Nope. We do. We just persevere through them! (You can do it too…)

The table started off as a wonderfully shaped Mid Century Modern dining table. Looks like Oak, but it’s not very  heavy so I am not sure. I am still scarred from too much oak in the past, so the grain was just not making me smile. The size is perfect for a small eating space or a minimalist desk.

mcm surfboard table milk paint before

This style is sometimes called a Surfboard table, since the edge detail is so sculpted to appear thin, like a surfboard. It is solid wood but there were deep gashes on top that needed filling. So PAINT! I am always tempted to make things “special” with a stripe or pattern, but seriously, the shape on this table is so great it doesn’t need embellishment. And Do-Hickeys can make a piece of furniture unusable in many situations.  So I decided on a simple black finish. I wanted it to be as smooth as possible and not chippy. Old Fashioned Milk Paint is self leveling so with Extra-Bond, it was going to be perfect. PERFECT, I tell you!

First I filled the gouges with wood putty and sanded. I like my vintage furniture to still look vintage, so I am not a perfectionist about how smooth it gets. Used painters tape to try to keep it all neat and pretty.

mcm surfboard table milk paint in progress pitch black

Painted on the OFMP in Pitch Black.  It is a really good inky black. It looked great! Milk paint kind of sinks into the wood, and feels like a part of it…not like a coating sitting on top.  I added a bit of Daddy Van’s wax. That process is so rewarding. (I carry these OFMP products at Riveted too)

mcm surfboard table milk paint in progress pitch black daddy vans

Then I started sabotaging myself…

“Self!” I thought, “You didn’t want a wax finish on that! Someone who buys this table will be wiping it down with a damp sponge frequently. You want durable!” (In reality, the wax is pretty durable and would wear off but would be simple to reapply. And the paint isn’t going anywhere.)

So I removed the wax with a quick wipe of mineral spirits. Let it dry. Applied Safe-Coat’s Acriglaze with a clean tee shirt rag and wiped it on in long strokes. This is an acrylic finish, and it goes on milky and dries clear. Looked Great! It is a very, very matte finish. I like that.  But I was working under a skylight, and the texture differences THAT I LIKE were causing the shine to be a little mottled.  I did a little sanding. Wiped the dust with a damp rag. Then my REALLY fatal error. I used that refolded damp rag to apply another thin coat of the Acriglaze. It looked fine. But I had done circular strokes to see if I could mitigate the streaks in the finish mostly due to texture. I didn’t like the circular stokes. SO I BRUSHED MORE ON. It was too thick. And then…it stayed cloudy…milky….argh.

Googling and a quick consult on the Facebook Q&A forum revealed that water was trapped in the finish. It might dry out. But it might not.  And now I had so much acrylic finish on the black paint that I had lost that wonderful natural feel of the OFMP.

Why oh why was I trying to get this so perfect when I specifically don’t want it to look new or plastic?? Black is hard. A big smooth surface of black is really hard. All the variations show up.  I was trying too hard. Trying to be perfect. (Oh so many life analogies here but I am going to save you from that right now.)

Deep breath. Sanded a little more to provide some tooth. Painted on another coat of OFMP Pitch Black. But by now I was rushing. It was getting dark. I left some thick  bits of paint…

Ok. The table is FINE. I am being super picky. But I have overworked it and tried too hard. The paint is starting to alligator a tiny bit. (I kinda like that) and there are some thick areas that are giving more texture than I aimed for. I tried to hand sand out some of the chunks and ended up burnishing the paint instead. So there is shine around the bumps. Argh.

Old Fashioned Milk Paint President and founder’s daughter Anne Thibeau suggested in the Facebook Group that she loves a Danish Oil finish on black. I decided to try that. Danish Oil is somewhere between wax and acrylic in terms of durability. It isn’t as safe and environmentally friendly as the OFMP products mentioned.  But it sinks into the paint to seal it and is renewable. (meaning, you don’t have to strip it to add more over time.) After one coat of oil I could see which areas were going to bug me the most. Took out the electric sander and did a quick sanding of just those areas with a fine 320 grit paper. Added another coat of Danish Oil and BACKED AWAY.

mcm surfboard table milk paint in progress pitch black Danish oil

She looks beautiful. The finish is durable. Lesson is…don’t force it! Let the process be and the project be what it is… another life lesson courtesy of Art.

mcm surfboard table milk paint in progress pitch black Danish Dining

All items are available. The chairs might be even cuter with this table if the had dip painted black feet! Check out other items for sale in the shop in Downtown Tucson or online.

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