Antique table: info needed on value, refinishing or passing

jessicamlMarch 20, 2011

I'm hoping someone more knowledgeable can help me out. I'd like to find a rolling drop-leaf table for my small kitchen, so I decided to check out the local antique stores. The below table was marked $225, on sale for $195. I'm told it's solid oak (though the legs feel hollow).

It has cool original cast-iron scrolls supporting the drop-leaves and used to have a leaf in the middle (which I figure I'd eventually see about replacing). I love that it already has wee little casters. However, it's pretty badly beat up (screw in top, cracking, burn mark, partially stripped, pen marks all over, apparently broken leg which I didn't notice in person but shows up in pictures). A co-worker told me to offer $95, but that $30 would be better with all the work needed. I've seen similar tables (in MUCH better shape) for $220-$400 or beyond, but not on wheels or with the cast iron supports. So is this even worth refinishing? If so, how? Is the price fair or inflated? What would you do?

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sunnyca_gw

You would need an electric sander in very good shape(probably burn it out) & the patience of Job to get the marks out of that, it's pretty well trashed & can't imagine anyone paying that price for it. I'd pass on it. You are talking about removing at least an 1/8 in. of top & maybe more Won't have any antique value. Legs don't look like they came with the top. Hope some one else has some answers.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2011 at 12:44AM
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lindac

Thats' a perhaps a $40 table....
The legs came with the top....they are not 'Hollow"....but that table is so totally trashed that it will cost you easily $300 of your time and material to put into shape...
Tell that dealer....no thanks!
Linda C

    Bookmark   March 20, 2011 at 12:59AM
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igloochic

I wouldn't pop out 25 bucks for that. It's a mess.

When buying antique furniture one major thing to focus on is the support pieces....broken leg in a table? Ghats a quick pass for me.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2011 at 2:09AM
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lindac

Thats' a perhaps a $40 table....
The legs came with the top....they are not 'Hollow"....but that table is so totally trashed that it will cost you easily $300 of your time and material to put into shape...
Tell that dealer....no thanks!
Linda C

    Bookmark   March 20, 2011 at 9:12AM
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jessicaml

Thanks so much you guys! I think I really just needed a reality check. Guess I'll keep looking for my perfect table.

    Bookmark   March 20, 2011 at 2:49PM
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karinl

The perfect table varies for everyone. For example, this one is obviously in your area and on the market now when you need one. You might enjoy the project, and maybe you'd like the marks and flaws that will remain even after refinishing. So if it works for you, there's nothing wrong with buying the poor thing (!). The only thing that would be wrong would be paying more than it's worth.

KarinL

    Bookmark   March 20, 2011 at 8:02PM
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jessicaml

Karin,

Thanks for the positive note! It's nice to hear from someone who doesn't think I'm completely off my rocker for wanting the "poor thing". ;) Finding something so close to what I want in my rural area was definitely the biggest mark in this one's favor, and I do (or did) like the idea of the project and having something of myself invested in it.

I'm also okay with it showing some of it's history (sanding out the burn mark isn't going to happen). However, the price seemed high for something in the shape it's in, and folks here seemed to confirm that. I'm still thinking about making an offer...but while I don't want to be taken for a ride, I also don't want to that offer to be so low it's insulting. I rather wish I'd spotted it at a garage sale instead of an antique store.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 10:27AM
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Fori is not pleased

Just be careful with those feet--some old casters (new ones too, actually) can seriously mar a floor! I think it's a bit overpriced, but still appealing, so go haggle!

It does seem like it's been sanded down so many times that the edges have lost their crispness. But if the legs are in good shape...hmmmm. I like the legs.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 10:39AM
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lindac

It's a pretty common....at least it used to be, farmhouse kitchen table....it likely has marks from a grinder screwing on as well as the knife and burn marks....and its' been scrubbed smooth. It fed the threshers and bathed the babies, served to lay out the canning supplies as well as a spot to roll the pie crust....and sit with your morning coffee.
Great table....but not worth what they are asking in that shape.
I gave one like that, but in better condition away about 4 years ago because I bought it for $2.50 at an auction...didn't need it and my neighbor did.
Linda C

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 11:40AM
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karinl

Yes, I do have a problem distinguishing between homeless pieces of furniture and stray cats :-)

True about those old casters - I try to avoid rolling them on the pieces I have. Check them, but if you want it to actually roll I would probably get new casters. At least the leg length will already be right for them.

One bonus to its condition, by the way - the original finish is all off the top. That saves you stripping it. But it's OK on the legs, so you don't need to strip those. Perfect project.

One thing that should be made clear is that a $40 table at a yard sale or on craigslist is quite legitimately at least an $80 table in a store. If you've ever shopped on craigslist you'll know why - you shop at each item owner's convenience (and they always live in the back of beyond), while the shop owner invests quite a lot - utilities, inventory, and time - in being in the store at your convenience. In effect she's out there shopping for you. And probably gives up a percentage of the sale to the credit card company in many cases :-)

Good point about making an offer so low it's insulting. Some people don't care about that but I do too, as I like to feel welcome in the store again! It's easier to lowball if an item has been on the market for a a while. But even if it has, the insult can come from both the number itself, and in how you do it. What I usually do with an overpriced item on craigslist is to say that I am interested, but I don't think I could pay more than $xxx, but I'm absolutely not in a rush so if they want to wait and see if they can get their price they're welcome to do that. Some variant of that could work.

Given all the factors you've mentioned, I wouldn't be embarrassed to go as high as the $100 range, or whatever would leave you still feeling good. If the leg is truly broken (I can't see that), that would maybe take it down a notch.

KarinL

PS a cabinet scraper might do a better job than a sander on the top, and doesn't make so much dust.

Here is a link that might be useful: example of a specialty caster store

    Bookmark   March 21, 2011 at 12:23PM
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