The table is finally done! I cleaned and waxed the base of the table and all of the wood on the chairs, and then started sanding the top. I sanded, and sanded, and sanded... all through spring break. I sanded while the children pulled each other in the wagon up and down the sidewalk. I sanded while I should be making dinner. I sanded until I sanded through the veneer in a few spots. Oops!
There were (still are) funny bubbles in the surface, I suppose where water got under the veneer at some point in its past. After seeing the plywood underneath peek through in those few areas, I took it much easier, giving up on smoothing the bubbles out completely. Then I stained the top and finished it with two coats of oil-based polyurethane. So it's not entirely smooth, but I think it still looks really good. I also recovered the chairs. After much pondering, I just couldn't find a fabric that I thought would be durable enough, so I went with black vinyl. It has a leather look and is fancy enough without being too slick.
This new table is not perfect, but I'm embracing it. It sits right in the center of our home, hosting homework and projects and coffee dates and book club meetings, and even the occasional meal. I don't want to be scared to use it for fear of messing it up. It feels a bit more imposing than our old table with the higher chair backs and sturdy design. I've got an idea for a table runner- a strippy patchwork kind of thing- to soften it up just a little, and some washable fabric coasters to keep in a little basket to protect the veneer from more moisture bubbles.
The old table moved to the kitchen, and looks pretty good in its new home (a post for another day?). I'd been on the lookout for a new table for quite some time, and this project including all the supplies came in for under $200. I'm so glad it's done. And I'm so thankful that Chris found it for me! I love it.