I love a piece of furniture with family history and this family table has just that! I’m not sure exactly when this old table came to live at mum and dad’s house. It may have been when my Grandfather sold his big home in Lawnton, Brisbane, after Grandma went to heaven, and he was downsizing to a smaller house.
This was after I had married and left home, but nevertheless it ended up with my parents. I remember mum stripping it back to bare wood, removing the layers of paint from over the years, and varnishing it. And here is how it has looked for probably the last 25 years or more.
The table came to stop at our house a few years ago, and I’ve been using it in my workshop until I found time to give it a makeover and add to the layers of it’s story in history!
the history of Dad’s Family Table
However, this piece’s history goes back even further. My Dad is the oldest of 10 kids who grew up in a now obsolete suburb of Brisbane, called Cribb Island (now the Brisbane International Airport). Dad’s grandfather, Thomas Jackson, was a pineapple farmer and ran a cannery in the area. You can read about the history of the Canning Labels, now available as reproductions on my website, here.
My Dad’s mum – my Grandma (Nanna) Jackson – was born in Banyo, Brisbane in 1923, and her father, Ernest Large, was a “wood machinist”. He brought his family over from England in 1913, and I imagine this table was made sometime during my Grandma’s childhood in the late 1920s or early 1930s. My uncle says that it was one of her prized possessions, because her father had made it.
In fact, in our Ancestry.com profile, my sister has entered a whole lot of our family history and matched existing links to other records in our family tree. Beside my Grandma’s profile information, she has a note attached. It contains a transcript of her memoirs she had written sometime during her adult life, about her childhood and her family home.
I found this paragraph about her family table: “Sometimes, instead of playing cards, we had a family night when we used to play ‘Bobs’. Dad had made our board to fit our kitchen table and we divided into two teams. I loved watching Dad as he was so good at getting those balls into the holes two at a time. Other times we would play table tennis with the table diagonally across the kitchen. Friday night was usually set aside as games night when there was just Dad, Mum, Win, Grace and self at home.”
The table went on to be used for similar games nights for the next couple of generations! Here below is the only pic we could find of the table without a cloth over it, being used for a family games night in the early 1970s. That’s my little curly toddler head on the other side of the table.
A new Look for our family table
I stripped the top back to raw wood, then painted the base in Fusion’s Coal Black.
Next, these end leaves have also been sanded back and the front one with a big crack, I repaired with wood putty, hoping stain might cover it. I don’t mind it being seen, though – it all adds character.
I applied equal parts Natural & Cappuccino in Fusion’s all in one Stain & Finishing Oil for the table leaves and table top. Apply with a lint free cloth or a microfibre applicator using long strokes along the grain. Wipe away any excess SFO. (You can also use a brush, but when I do, I use a cheap chip brush from the hardware store, not my good painting brushes.)
And next, I worked on the table top in the same way. Wiping the SFO along the grain and making sure any excess is wiped away.
Here’s a view of the top of the table with the end table leaves attached. I’m pretty sure these were an addition by my grandfather when they started having all those 10 kids! Holes were cut in the end aprons of the table and the long poles attached to the back of each leaf, slot into the end holes.
And this is the top view of the table without the ends attached. This is probably how we will use it mostly, but it’s nice to have the ends to extend it for larger gatherings.
So here’s the finished look and a reminder of the process: a couple coats of Fusion’s Coal Black on the base, and a 1/2 strength mix of Fusion’s Stain & Finishing Oil in equal parts Cappuccino & Natural.
I love the rustic quality of the table top surface and the mismatched tones of the end leaves. It all still works together for this new, but old farmhouse table look!
A Farmhouse Style Grazing Table
Here’s the table all set up for my husband, Marty’s 50th birthday afternoon party earlier this year. It made a beautiful grazing table. And there’s my dad, at the far side of the table that was the centre of his own family gatherings for all those years. I love how it is now a part of our own family gatherings.
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