June 15th, 2011

Somehow between new jobs, new endeavors, busy schedules, rain, blazing heat, more rain, hotter blazing heat, low funds and neighbors breaking the lawnmower…we neglected the side yard. Now it is a beautiful field of knee high sun-bleached weeds.

So embarrassing.

With summer here and outdoor activities gearing up, I wanted to whip the side yard into shape for entertaining + swimming. Besides the weeds, a major obstacle of having folks over for outdoor shenanigans is the lack of a decently sized dining table. Guests tend to sort of wander around with their plates and sadly huddle around the beat down Ikea Docksta table. I’ve casually looked around for a big ‘ol rectangular dining table, but hadn’t found anything that was quite right or quite cheap enough. Of course, I then imagined it’d be a fantastic idea to build a DIY outdoor dining table that looked something like THIS ONE used for planning out the design of the side yard.

As with many of my other “imagined” projects, I put it off and suddenly realized it was already ‘effing June. Of all the months, this is the month for outdoor parties. After June it gets waaaayyy too hot to even live here, let alone make company hang out outside.

So. Quick table solution? Craigslist? Yes?

Sorry for the bad images, but these were the CL ad pictures that piqued my interest. I saw this “dining table” listed at an insanely low price and thought it looked uncannily similar to my reference table. Located only four miles from the house, it was kind of a given to go see it.

Well, we went Friday night and tried to see the table (in the dark) while it was sitting on a virtually inaccessible trailer and blocked by a big ugly credenza. Ultimately we couldn’t get a good look, but for $25 it seemed like no big deal to just buy it and throw it in the truck. It was for outside, I mean, why really worry all hard?

The next day (in the daylight) I got my first real look at the thing.

While in rough shape, it was MUCH more awesome than I had initially thought. It had a great simple design and the construction was so very nice…although, there was some kookiness…

For instance, the entire table top was shifted to one side. So, one side had an overhang of six inches while the other was almost flush with the base. Which was so WEIRD. Even the trestle support was centered with the top and not the base. Which was so much WEIRDER. I suppose it might originally have been a desk? Or work area type thing? It definitely wasn’t a dining table.

Unfortunately, the top and legs had a considerable amount of damage. Lots of deep scratches, water damage, weird stains. Pretty much the trifecta of crappy damages you don’t want to see.

But it was teak!

And fantastic!

It seemed a simple fix to take the top off and center it on the base to create a more dining style table. As for the off-center trestle support? I hoped it wouldn’t be a big deal once there were chairs, plus who really notices trestles anyways?

No one who wants to eat dinner. That’s for sure.

I flipped the table over to remove and remount the base and…


Hidden on an interior support was a stamp and a tag. This thing was Danish and made by H.P. Hansen and vintage and uh oh.


Suddenly I wasn’t so confident about screwing around with the design and using this as an outside table. This table had survived for decades before I considered finagling around with it. It’s solid teak and has provenance and is an unusual design – but it is also so very awkward as well.

Is it a desk? A table? It’s not a classic or rare or highly desirable piece.

Ultimately, this thing was just so very fucked up.

The damage was such that I knew I couldn’t fix it completely; I could make things better, but the rough spots would never truly disappear. Choice-wise, I could either sell this surprise but damaged discovery (since I couldn’t use it for anything besides an outdoor table) or I could keep it, fix it up as much as possible and then own a really nice outdoor teak table that gets it’s own special weather resistant cover.

Frankly, in the end, I didn’t feel comfortable selling something that was in such bad shape. It didn’t seem worth the shipping and time and possibility of a buyer getting really upset over condition issues.

So. Nice outdoor teak table? Yes?

Once decided, I removed the top and centered the base. The trestle support is still off-center, but it didn’t seem worth removing to only have weird patched holes and will mostly be blocked by chairs AND SHALL BE IGNORED.

After adjusting the base and tightening up all the bolts, the table got my full restorative treatment. There are still scratches, deep gouges, major color inconsistencies and stains from what I imagine were markers – like a kid used to sit and draw here and the ink leaked through.



Not so bad. Not bad at all.

For $25, some hours of labor and a slight flesh wound, it looks like a much nicer table than I should have sitting outside.

I have always planned on pairing the exterior table with my set of Bertoia chairs. Now these roughed up wire suckers are looking super janky next to the shiny restored table.

The set of Bertoias need full on restoration (the white coating around the wire has chipped and come off in big hunks). Powder coating is the more expensive and better option, but maybe a good exterior spray paint will get them through awhile longer and protect the metal until we can afford to fully restore.

Now to just get the side yard to be a little more inhabitable. That’s going to be some filthy, hot, backbreaking work. Better get the pool plumbing installed for sweet watery relief…but that will also be filthy, hot, backbreaking work. Clearly this is why the side yard was so casually ignored and fell into ruin.

Must not be a lazy jerkhole. Must get side yard fixed up.

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  1. Erika on 06/16/2011:

    What an awesome table! I wonder what it was used for originally – maybe an artist’s drafting table?

    Your “full restorative treatment” really did the trick. It looks fabulous. I have been thinking of trying your tips for refreshing vintage wood. I just got a Danish Modern rocking chair at a garage sale. It’s in pretty good condition finish-wise, with the exception of the arm edges and the bottom rocker portion. I have sanded down those trouble areas and want to apply the Watco Danish Oil, but I’m not sure if I should sand the rest of the piece down too. I’m not positive if there is a finish coating on it. Will the previous finish affect the Danish Oil’s ability to penetrate the wood. I’ve refinished furniture by stripping, staining, and poly-ing before, but never used Watco Danish Oil. Since this is a valuable rocker, I don’t want to do an extreme refinish job on it. Plus it doesn’t need it. Any help would be appreciated! Thanks!

  2. julie on 06/16/2011:

    Love the table, what a find! The Bertoia’s look great with the table too.

    I was looking into restoring a wire chair recently and was going to go the powder coating option until I found a company that does the Rilsan finish (white plastic coating that most Bertoia’s have). It worked out cheaper than powder coating and looks brand new. The original peeling plastic finish was melted off in an oven (cost $5), then they shot-blasted (aparently this is different to sandblasting, rougher or something, you wouldn’t shot blast something if you were going to powder coat it but the Rilsan finish is thicker and hides any bumps) the metal to get rid of the rust, and then applied a new Rilsan finish to the chair (cost $40).

    Thought I should let you know in case there is someone local to you that does the Rilsan finish. The people we used mainly apply the Rilsan to shopping trolleys and industrial and marine parts.

  3. Jennie on 06/16/2011:

    Awesome find…even if it is for outside. The table is a dead ringer for the desks I had in my 6th grade science class. Enjoy your outdoor entertaining.

  4. Josh Lee on 06/16/2011:

    Congratulations on your successful table hunt! My real motivation for commenting, though, is to say that I see your Venture Bros. reference, and I am pleased by it.

  5. sudha on 06/16/2011:


  6. Dan @ Manhattan Nest on 06/16/2011:

    Awesome! So pretty, so teaky.

  7. Venus on 06/16/2011:

    Congratulations on such a great find! It looks really good after your restoration. I have a couple of vintage wood pieces I was just gonna paint, now I’m try your restoration first…

  8. Lauren @ chezerbey on 06/16/2011:


    By the way, I find that envisioning the finished outdoor project (with cocktail in hand) is good motivation. But it is much hotter there. Maybe a vat of cocktails?

  9. Isabelle on 06/16/2011:

    Do I see a new desk there for your office area in the dan?

    Wouldn’t this look nice on the left side of your office area, where you have the storage part of your current desk? Together with some “string” shelvings to hold all office supplies?

  10. Tim Young on 06/16/2011:

    That’s a great table. Nice find and excellent work on the restoration! If you decide to powder coat your Bertoias and need a reference (and don’t mind a bit of driving), I found a guy in Redlands who does a great job for a good price. Email me for more info.

  11. Nick Klaus on 06/16/2011:

    They really didn’t know what they had, and looking at the work you put into it, it’s an incredible transformation. The Bertoias look really good out there. Do they get really hot in the sun, or does the white coating keep them cool?

  12. Mr. Modtomic on 06/16/2011:

    That…THAT! is what it’s all about right there! Super score. Looks beautiful. Am appropriately jealous. I came across an entire Jens Risom office suite (Giant desk, return and credenza) at a used office furniture store once. This really reminds me of that set. I woulda bought it all up…but where was I gonna store it until I could find that ONE person in the midwest with enough room for it and the appropriate appreciation for it?

  13. Lunaluna on 06/16/2011:

    What a find, what a beautiful find! You can tell right away you were on to something when you see in the third picture the rounded angles where the legs meet the rest of the frame. Those marks are not damage they are character! I think they add to it. Maybe it was a counter, or a desk as modtonic suggests? I think it’s a perfect outdoor table. Also I sort of like the dried weeds, they look nice in the picture anyway.
    Well done on your find, your radar was fully working on this one πŸ™‚

  14. Lunaluna on 06/16/2011:

    …My apologies ModtoMic (I need new glasses or need to pay more attention ;-/

  15. Suzy8track on 06/16/2011:

    Nice job on the table! Even with the scratches, it still looks great.

  16. Sarah on 06/16/2011:

    I fully support your outdoor use of this table. With all of the amazing pieces with provenance that you’ve dug out of obscurity, you totally deserve to just relax and use one of them outside. Plus, you’ll actually use it. This table is lucky to be your outdoor table.

  17. jennifer on 06/16/2011:

    i love the photo of the side yard! i’d love to be in your pool while that field of weeds is still there!

  18. CAL on 06/16/2011:

    What a Beautiful Table. I love the look of teak. Leave it outside, it will last. You don’t see people taking in their boat decking.

  19. L on 06/16/2011:

    Fab find.

    And please note: teak is used outdoors as trim on many a high-end boat. It’s pretty awesome wood; in your climate (probably no termites hidden in those weeds . . . ) you shouldn’t worry about rewarding your CL prowess with a fine outdoor table.

  20. Dana on 06/16/2011:

    my step-sister manages to have all the stray cats in the neighborhood find her. you’re sort of the same way with danish furniture. do you hear them out in the dark, calling for you?? i’ve never seen someone who finds such amazing pieces. =)

  21. pianoarthur on 06/16/2011:

    I agree with Dana^^ You are the Teak Whisperer!

  22. amy h on 06/16/2011:

    Yeah, that table does look like it has seen some children. That is exactly what my dining room table top looks like. Lots of drawing. And stabbing. With forks. That’s why our dining table is a couple pieces of plywood with pipes for legs.

    If the asymmetry really bothers you, you could put a second teak support underneath. Then there wouldn’t be any holes to patch.

  23. Mike on 06/16/2011:

    Great find for the price. Definitely was part of an office grouping the way it’s designed with the offsets. Drafting table? Part of an early computer work station (Yeah, those original desktops and printers were huge!) maybe.

    Even though it’s Danish looks to me to have been manufactured in the late 80’s, early 90’s. Have a couple of early RTA pieces from that era (not IKEA, think Conrans and STOR if anybody remembers or has heard these RTA retailers that hit the US market first) that have similar designs

  24. Carolyn on 06/16/2011:

    Beautiful table, and the asymmetry is a bonus! Put the people with short legs on the side of the table where they can rest their feet on the trestle support and they will be grateful!

  25. Jen on 06/16/2011:

    The virgo in me would add a second trestle piece to balance the bottom. But that’s just me. Good old symmetrical me. Make it stop.

  26. Jackie on 06/16/2011:
  27. Maggie on 06/17/2011:

    I like your weeds πŸ™‚ still, they don’t make it easy to get around in your outdoor enternaining area. Can’t wait to see it afterwards.

  28. Anna Mueller on 06/17/2011:

    so… if you really wanted to go crazy on the table… you could sand it. Teak is commonly used for outdoor furniture. If you sanded it down to the raw wood, then it would age to a silver gray… Goodbye weird pressure marks and scratches.
    that is unless it is a veneer, in which case ignore everything I just said.

  29. Tonia on 06/17/2011:

    I must pick up some teak oil. the table looks great wouldn’t have expected anything less

  30. Florian on 06/17/2011:

    Your photography skills totally undermine the points your making. Your side yard – looks beautiful and romantic. Unpractical? Tut tut tut, who cares as long as it’s so pretty? Well, you do, apparently, as would I, for that matter.

    Well anyway, I was actually going to support Cal’s statement. Teak is THE classic thing for outdoor use. English park furniture and ocean liner deck chairs are all teak. It will go a beautiful silver grey when exposed to the elements (do you have those in southern California?) for long enough. But the colour can always be brought back with your beloved teak oil. I gather you are connected to a pipeline. Otherwise washing with green soap is recommended and even the use of a high-pressure cleaner.

    Although usually the tabletops of the outdoor teak tables are slatted, so water will not collect and stand on them in large puddles. So maybe you’ll want to wipe the surface after rainfall.

  31. jason@antikmodern on 06/17/2011:

    I think your table could be a transformer! It looks suspiciously like the desk in the link below (minus the drawers of course)
    Still, you can’t really complain for $25

  32. Lisette on 06/17/2011:

    Wow, what a stunning table and at that price!! The stars were shining on you the day you found it! Great job on the sanding and oiling too!

  33. Fabra DiPaolo on 06/17/2011:

    Love what you did with the table. Can’t wait to see what your next find is!

  34. David on 06/17/2011:

    I had this exact same dilemma a couple of weeks ago( I love the idea of using a cheap vintage table outside but faced with the actual act… I couldn’t do it. So now it’s in my basement taking up valuable real estate.
    That having been said, I think yours will do great outside, teak loves the outside, the outside loves teak.

  35. Belinda Gomez on 06/17/2011:

    Have you ever thought of letting people submit ‘wishlists” for items, and then finding them? Could be lucrative.

  36. allison on 06/18/2011:

    BINGO! Jason at AntikModern found it. It’s gotta be it!!

  37. DirectionsNotIncluded on 06/18/2011:

    Can I tell you how insanely jealous I am that you found that table for $25? Our craigslist over here is worthless.

    Looks great for what you have planned.

  38. A on 06/19/2011:

    That’s GORGEOUS. The off-kilter support is a non-issue, rest assured.

    That said, the scratched/marked area? My mother’s dining room table, which has a thin overlay (its third, thing is vintage) has two spots just like that where my sister and I did 14 years of homework and crafts. Gouges, ink spots. Some places even the numbers are visible from specific, frustrating algebra.

    It’s our favorite thing about that table. Enjoy.

  39. jd on 06/20/2011:

    the backyard.

    kind of like a piet oudolf garden in wintertime. kind of love it.

    great table too.

  40. Anna on 06/21/2011:

    Florian- once teak grays-it can’t be brought back to the original honey color without some serious sanding. it can be oiled seasonally and it will keep that golden color- but once you go gray… i say just let it gray. πŸ™‚

  41. avimom on 06/21/2011:

    Keep us posted on the Bertoia chairs. I’m debating whether to restore mine, as well. Right now I’m thinking of making bikini-style covers from oil cloth and just disguising most of the rust.

  42. Sara on 06/23/2011:

    Xeriscaping, that’s what they call that type of landscaping. Suitable to the natural climate. Just put in some stone paths. You can sew it with wildflower mix, cut it once a year or so, and as time goes by the flowers you’ve sewn will self sew. Meadow. Or something like that.

  43. Florian on 06/23/2011:

    @ Anna:
    Does it? The Garpa care instructions say differently, but maybe I just got it wrong. I’m way to lazy for oiling anyway and I love the silver grey.

  44. Anna on 06/24/2011:

    hmmm… i guess i don’t know what to say. I work in the furniture industry selling teak as well as owning it, and the lovely graying has been my experience- but there is certainly a possibility that teak can be stained and then it wouldn’t gray, or if it is sealed it wouldn’t gray. But raw, unfinished teak- will. No matter what- it is still one of the most hardy wood to use outdoors- agreed? πŸ˜‰

  45. Nicholas on 06/25/2011:

    Nice job. But, Watco??? I definitely recommend switching to an oil that doesn’t require a cancer warning label. You gotta try pure raw tung oil from the Real Milk Paint Co. Non-toxic, no additives, anti-microbial, food safe too (cutting boards, wooden utensils). You can order online through their website or if you are in the high desert (Joshua Tree) you can get it at my store (Solstice Eco-Building Supply) for the same price less shipping (805) 215-6025.

  46. Cat @ flutterbymama on 06/25/2011:

    That table is such a great discovery. When we moved to our new house the previous owners asked if we wanted to keep the dining table that fit so well in the kitchen. Ours was way too big and at the last minute we decided we could use it till we found a nice round table. Well I ‘m glad we did as on closer inspection it turns out to be Danish too!!! I’ve seen one on ebay go for a few hundred pounds but I want to keep it and use it outside somehow. It’s such a shame that some people have no idea what they are giving away but I suppose it means it’s good for us?! Enjoy the summer.

  47. xylostar on 06/29/2011:

    Hi there, love the table! Do you have any tips on restoring leather? I have a chocolate club lounge, and my furry baby (dog) has scratched it in places :o(

  48. Lisa on 06/29/2011:

    Wow. Spectacular. Don’t let the “damage” bother you. It’s teak, with a story. I think it’s perfect and love pairing it with the Bertoia chairs. Just going to get better with age.

  49. Chris H. on 06/30/2011:

    Did you make the tensioned tarp cover? Is it bought or made? Nice lines on it to contrast the table and chairs.

  50. rebecca on 07/12/2011:

    hi. so, i know that it was already cut this year, but… i thought the 3 foot high golden weeds were lovely. what if, next year, you mow out paths and rooms within the gold for your seating/dining area and pool access? i’m not picturing crop circles here, though it’s prob. a similar execution. just an idea. the light on the gold is stunning, and i think the spaces you carved out could be super cool, intimate, and inviting. just a thought.

  51. Danny Torres on 12/11/2012:


    Beautiful table. I stumbled across your posting after doing some research. This table was actually part of a desk thus the odd trestle arrangement. It is part of an Arne Vodder diplomat executive desk. It’s a very high quality designer piece.


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