it’s about time.

It was definitely time for me to get my paint brushes back out and start painting some furniture.


Taking a break over the holidays left me refreshed and feeling excited about getting back into it.

I’m starting small with this antique spool table.


It was pretty wonky, but I sent it over to Ken’s workshop and he shored it up.  When Ken shores up a piece of furniture, he likes to take it apart first and then put it back together using fresh glue.  When he was disassembling this one, he found this old nail holding the top on.


I always get a kick out of it when Ken saves these sorts of finds and leaves them for me with little notes (sometimes he even types them up on an old portable typewriter).  He knows I am fascinated by these sorts of details.

I think the age of this square nail gives some indication of how old this little table is.  I’m calling it a ‘square nail’, but if you look closely it’s actually rectangular.  Truly square nails were used prior to 1800.  Rectangular nails were used from 1800 – 1880 (Chervenka).

I found a very similar table online that is dated 1840 – 1860 (and the price tag is $1,295, bwa, ha, ha, ha).  The expensive antique has some finer details than my table including some hand cut dovetails, but the style is very much the same.

Given all of that, I wanted to give this table a paint job that would feel original and of the right period for its age.  For me that means milk paint.

Milk paint has been around for thousands of years, even some early cave drawings were done with a form of milk paint; a mixture of milk, lime and natural pigments.  Oil paint was developed in the early 1400’s and became the more popular choice of paint in medieval times (Rodgers).  However, during the French Revolution (late 1700’s) some of the ingredients of oil paint became hard to find which led to a resurgence in the use of milk paint.  The various French recipes for milk paint then made their way to Colonial America and became very popular (Candee).  Had this table originally been painted, it likely would have been painted in milk paint.

Fortunately, we don’t have to make our own milk paint with a recipe these days, we can just buy the powder, mix it with water and get painting.


Just before Christmas the lovely people at Homestead House offered to have Santa put some of their new black wax in my Christmas stocking.  I asked them if Santa could throw in some of their Coal Black milk paint too because I had this project in mind.

Since this table was so dark to begin with, I knew I could get away with just one coat of black milk paint.  It could not have been easier to paint this table!  Once the paint was dry, I sanded lightly.  Then I used the painters tape trick to force some chippy spots.  Next I added a coat of black wax.


The Homestead House black wax is so creamy, it goes on quite easily.  And it has very little smell.  This is so important to me when I’m working inside my house during a Minnesota winter.  You can’t be opening up a window to air the place out when it’s below zero outside!


I like to use a brush to apply wax when I’m working with spindly pieces (like the legs on this table).  It’s so much easier to get the wax into all of the crevices with a brush.  I have a brush devoted to black wax, another for clear wax and a third for white wax.  You can clean your wax brushes with soap and warm water, but I’m a bit lazy for that.  I’d rather just have three brushes!  I’ll admit I don’t wash them after each use, but I do clean them once or twice a year.

I apply the wax with the brush and then remove any excess using an old black t-shirt to avoid leaving any light colored fibers behind.  The black wax deepens the color of the black milk paint a bit.


I had to discard the knobs that came with the table.  They were metal and one of them was badly misshapen.  No loss really, they were pretty blah.  I replaced them with two of the knobs that I picked up at the thrift store a couple of weeks ago.


Along with a few vintage clocks, I used my painted books to stage the table.


Who remembers back when I painted these?  It was way back when my blog was practically brand new.  They are also painted in black milk paint (Miss Mustard Seed’s Typewriter).

34 thoughts on “it’s about time.

    1. Nope, no space for it. The spot where I staged it for these photos is the spot where I take 90% of my close up photos year round. It’s the only spot in my entire house that has good lighting! So I have to keep it clear for that.


  1. Adorable table, the books and clocks make a perfect staging! Was it difficult to keep drips from happening on all of those beautiful turned legs? I didn’t know there is black wax – that’s a great product when you paint with black paint. Also, how do you keep your wax brushes from drying out between uses?


    1. Drips weren’t really an issue. Milk paint is runnier than other paints, but I kept my brush only lightly loaded with paint while doing those legs. As for my wax brushes drying out … well … honestly I just let them dry out. When I go to use them again they are pretty stiff, so I just rub them on a dry rag, kind of working out the stiffness and knocking off any dried wax. It just takes a few seconds to do. This is most likely not the manufacturers recommended process ;-), but it works for me. As for black wax, it’s new! You may know that Annie Sloan recently came out with a black wax, and Little Billy Goat has a black wax (I used the Little Billy Goat black wax on this desk). I find both of those waxes are too stinky for use indoors. Since the Homestead House/Miss Mustard wax is my favorite wax to use, I’m happy they came out with a black too. I love using black wax over black paint, but I want to do some experimenting with using it over color too.


    1. It is gorgeous! And the black wax is fab too. I plan to paint my stair treads with the Coal Black milk paint … just as soon as I get around to it … any day now … as I’ve been saying for over two years now … 😉


  2. Absolutely Love it! Wish you lived in Florida so I could come study with you! AWESOME and I absolutely love those knobs, PERFECT finish to the piece!

    On Fri, Jan 6, 2017 at 8:07 AM, q is for quandie wrote:

    > Quandie posted: “It was definitely time for me to get my paint brushes > back out and start painting some furniture. Taking a break over the > holidays left me refreshed and feeling excited about getting back into it. > I’m starting small with this antique spool table. I” >


  3. As always, your furniture re-finishing is just perfect! I adore this table and wish I lived local! I soon hope to get brave enough to try re-finishing one of my own and was considering Miss Mustard Seed’s Typewriter milk paint. How do the 2 black paints compare, color-wise?


    1. I would say there was no difference that I could see. I was wondering myself how the HH Coal Black would look compared to the MMS Typewriter. I’ve painted quite a few pieces in Typewriter (here’s a fun one, and this is one of my favorites) and I’d say the two colors are pretty comparable. You should go for it Kim, I find that the black milk paint is one of the easiest colors to work with. I think it’s a great place to start if you don’t have a lot of experience with milk paint.


  4. Love this Quandie! So classic and pretty. Gotta try the new black and white waxes out there. Love the looks of both! Esp love the handles you chose! Thanks for sharing.


  5. You’ve helped me decide what to do with a wash stand I have with those same, intimidating, turned legs. Looks a lot like your table with a back splash and a towel bar on each side. Never liked the finish. Now I just have learn to paint. Would like a durable finish on top. It’s at the cabin. Lots of people, sweaty drink glass etc. Would love a hands on class. Hint hint. Any suggestions. Just love your piece


    1. Hmmmm. To be honest, I think sweaty glasses require coasters no matter what finish you use. That being said, glass rings are super easy to fix on a milk painted piece. I fixed a ring on my Kitchen Scale buffet by just sanding it lightly and re-coating the top with hemp oil. Also, the beauty of a distressed milk paint finish is that it’s meant to be just that, distressed. Chippy, worn, aged … so what’s a little more natural distressing? And over time if you find the surface has just become a bit too distressed, just sand it down a little and paint it again!


  6. Wow, I really love that table. Surprisingly i reaaly like the black. Can’t wait to find a house and then start putting new old things in it.


    1. I found an amazing antique hutch on CL the other day and debating buying it just to hang onto for a potential future house for you. But then I thought maybe that was jumping the gun a little. It would make an awesome house warming present though.


      1. We probably need to wait until we know how much room we will have and what colors we are going to use. Kris found a way to make my new bedroom look like a lake cabin setting.


  7. My favorite has always been the blabk paint…..this really, really changed the total look of the table. Knobs are perfect. Another fabulous project!


  8. Such a pretty table! Looks like your New Year is off to a good start! If you’re working indoor these days, you may want to give Daddy Van’s wax a try. It’s an all natural product, (100 percent!) and you can even get lavender or citrus scented. Not sure if they have a black wax, but they definitely have an antique brown, which is lovely. Happy New Year!


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