playing possum.

At the same lunch time garage sale where I found the drop leaf table, I also purchased this possum belly table.

possum belly table before

At the time I didn’t know it was called a possum belly table.  The seller told me it was called a “Minnesota cabinet”.  I had never heard that term before and I was unable to find any sources that referred to them with that name.   But I did find lots of info about possum belly or baker’s tables and that is exactly what this is.

Usually there would have been a hutch/cupboard type top that sat on the table, and that combination of items was the pre-cursor to the Hoosier cabinet.

possum belly cupboard
photo via pinterest

The possum belly drawers on the bottom would have held flour and sugar.  Normally they were lined with tin to keep rodents out (ewww).  I didn’t take a very close look at the drawers on my table when I purchased it.  It wasn’t until I got it home and pulled the possum belly drawers out that I realized they were in pretty poor condition on the bottom.

bad bottom

In fact, most likely unusable in the condition they were in.  I’m not a big fan of having furniture that is ‘just for looks’, so I knew that making these drawers functional again was going to be step number 1.

Fortunately, once again I was able to call on my amazing handyman/neighbor Ken!  I showed him the drawers and explained that ‘back in the day’ when Ken was a young man (I always give him a really hard time about being older than the hills, and luckily he finds it amusing instead of annoying) these drawer bottoms would have been made of tin.

possum belly drawers
photo via pinterest

That was all it took to get Ken’s mind thinking on the problem of how to fix them!

I can’t really give you a lot of detailed instructions on how Ken accomplished this.  I just consider him the furniture fixing fairy.  I go to work at the day job and come home at the end of the day to find completed fixes.  I know that he was able to find pieces of sheet metal that were already the approximate size needed.  He only had to cut a few inches off the end of each piece.  I also know that he used carpet nails to attach the sheet metal to the drawer frame.

possum belly drawers 2

possum belly drawers

The sides of the drawers are still the original wood.

possum belly drawer sides

The next step was to paint the base and drawer fronts in Miss Mustard Seed’s Linen milk paint.  I was happy to get just the right amount of chipping.  Not too much, but just enough to look authentic.

pb chipping

As I mentioned earlier, the top of this piece appeared to be unfinished when I got it.  It’s possible that it’s a newer replacement, but I really think it originally had a sheet of zinc over it.  If you look at the above picture you can see that there are little tack holes all around the perimeter of the top.

I decided to just sand my top down a little to smooth out the wood and then wax with Cece Caldwell’s Aging Cream.  It turned out gorgeous!

possum belly table top

Like most of the possum belly tables I saw online, mine also has a cutting board that pulls out.

pb cutting board

cutting board

Finally, I needed to replace the hardware since it didn’t come with any.  Most of the photos I’d seen of these possum belly tables show cup pulls.  I just happened to have a set of 4 that my father-in-law gave me when he changed them out for something newer (horrors!).  When I got them, they looked like this …

cup pulls before

In other words, nothing special.  I came up with a brilliant plan to paint them copper with the Fusion metallic paint.  But once I saw the drawers with their new sheet metal bottoms, I realized I needed to stick with just one metallic look so I repainted them in Fusion’s Brushed Steel.

possum belly hardware

And finally, the end result of all of this …

possum belly title

With holiday baking season almost upon us, couldn’t you use a possum belly table in your kitchen?

possum belly closeup

This one is available.  If you are local (Twin Cities) and interested in it, leave me a comment and I’ll get back to you with details.

Linking up with:  Finding Silver Pennies

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33 thoughts on “playing possum.

  1. Gorgeous! My Dad refinished a “hutch”, that’s what we called it, for my Mom when they were first married. It does have the tin drawers. Love that Ken put the metal back on, a nod to the history. Love it.

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  2. What an interesting piece – if it still had the tin top I would definitely repurpose it as a potting bench/flower arranging station. Potting soil in the bins and hooks on the side for gardening tools. Hang open shelves over it and stash vases, frogs and pots. A conversation starter for sure – lucky person who snatches this up. Once again why would anyone choose new when they could have this cutie? And by the way Ken’s a keeper!

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  3. Love it. Mr. Beige thinks it looks great the way it was and why would you paint rhis? I showed him the “after” and he STILL doesn’t get it! Lol….I love this piece and wish I had somewhere to utilize it, but can’t fit one more piece of furniture here. Keep up the good work!

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    1. That’s because he’s looking at that nice pinterest photo, not the actual ‘before’ photo of the one I have. Mine was in pretty rough shape. It needed all the help it could get, including paint.

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    1. Thanks Danielle! Ironically, after I posted this table one of my friends texted to show me a picture of a very similar table that came with the cabin she recently purchased. Her table still had the original metal bottom drawers. It was painted white, and had a wood top. Small world, right?

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