I SPENT THE LAST THREE WEEKENDS sanding, mostly.
My son wanted to build a table for his backyard patio. It’s a big patio, so it needed a big table.
We are not particularly gifted in the area of woodworking. But we are willing to learn the hard way.
It’s the Miller Way.
We cut the wood according to the do-it-yourself specs my son got off the internet. The pieces went together surprisingly well. If you don’t look too closely.
(I told my son that once he tells his guests that he built the table, they most assuredly will look too closely. It’s human nature.)
We sanded with an electric sander and with sandpaper on blocks of wood. Mostly with blocks of wood.
We put on the prep for the stain, so the stain would absorb evenly into the wood.
Then came the stain. It looked nice.
Then the polyurethane.
When it comes to painting polyurethane evenly onto wood, I think I could get about the same texture using a pint of snot.
Weekend 2, hello blotches
We had to sand down the poly on the tabletop, and then try again. But my son accidentally sanded too deeply, and he got into the stain. Think white polka dots on brown.
We tried covering those bare spots of wood with fresh stain. But the spots blended no better than pimples, black eyes, or hanging boogers.
So we sanded through the poly and into the stain, but left most of the stain.
Then we stained over it.
But we forgot the pre-stain. So the table looked diseased. Blotches of the Black Plague come to mind.
As we approached the third weekend, we debated. Settle for a table with a lot of Miller character? Or sand the tabletop back to bare wood, and our knuckles to the bone.
We wanted to get the table as close to perfect as we could, knowing that we’d never get all the way there.
But we decided to try.
Weekend 3, goodbye fingerprints
We spent half of the third Saturday in a row sanding.
We sanded ourselves blisters.
Personally, I sanded off enough skin that my smartphone no longer recognized my fingerprints.
Bare wood never looked so beautiful. I actually felt a lift in my spirit. Maybe a release of endorphins or an angel on my shoulder.
That’s when it hit me.
The clean table is like a heart forgiven.
All the dumb stuff we did is gone. It’s not there anymore.
It’s sanded into a puff of sawdust and blown to the wind, forever gone.
It’s destroyed by grace, through the kindness of God or whoever it is who’s doing the forgiving.
All that’s left is the memory, and the lesson learned. Hopefully.
At the moment, another coat to come
My son’s table is gorgeous.
We switched the poly to marine varnish, since the table will have to fight the sun and the rain.
Tip: Thin the poly or the varnish with one part mineral spirits to 10 parts sticky stuff.
My son has already put on two coats, with at least one more to come.
The table shimmers. It looks perfect.
From a distance, at least.
There’s some character left, though.
And one strand of hair from my daughter-in-law.
We shoot for perfection…or sand for it…knowing we can’t get there from here.
But we know in our spirit that trying is the right thing to do.
Whether we’re wanting to
- get in touch with God
- build a table
- or hang onto some semblance of a relationship with that family member or friend who voted for the wrong can of worms.