August 8, 2017

Classroom Furniture

We've all seen those classrooms with amazing furniture. Ya know, carefully crafted pieces that seamlessly mesh into their classroom environment. The furniture envy can run deep. I am especially envious of teachers that are allowed to have over-stuffed, fluffy items; the exact furniture in which I myself would want to curl up into and read a book. The fire code where I live prohibits such things. Heck, I have a better shot at a pit viper for a class pet than a rug on the floor.

This summer I decided to forge ahead and find some new furniture. Something sturdy and wooden. Maybe a bench. And a round table. I HAD to have a round table. Believe it or not, I've been at this teaching gig for nearly 20 years and have NEVER had a round table. I want one- now.

So, I began my pursuit. I didn't want to spend crazy amounts of money. I am fully aware of what is going to happen to this stuff once it enters my classroom. Thus, the ideal blend of economy and durability became my focus.

Initially, I figured I would need to do some serious mileage at yard sales. But, I was wrong. The internet makes shopping so convenient. I hopped onto a couple of social media sites where people post their stuff; an internet garage sale, if you will.

In less than a week I found exactly what I was looking for. I was even able to negotiate two different pickups the same day. Perfect!

Now began the process of preparing them for the classroom. I knew that to save money on the purchase I would have to buy items that needed some TLC. I decided to sand and paint them. 

6' Ethan Allen Bench - $45.00
Wooden Table and 3 Chairs - $35.00
1/4 Sheet Finishing Sander [hubby's]
Sandpaper (40 grit, 80 grit, and 120 grit) - $5.00
2 1/2 Cans of Valspar Red Spray Paint + Primer - $5/can
2 Cans of Rust-oleum Black Spray Paint + Primer in One- $5/can
Brackets - $2 for 2 [located in cabinet/door pull isles in hardware department]
Tack Cloth - $2.00
The well-loved bench came from a man who told the tale of how his family had outgrown its use. His children and grandchildren had used it throughout the years but it no long fit their need. Lucky me!

Step 1: Sanding
I didn't worry too much about getting down to bare wood or eliminating every ding and scratch. I knew I was going to spray paint and, let's face it, it's going to encounter a few more nicks and scrapes in this next life.

The electric sander did the larger parts. For the spindles, I hand-sanded using a smaller piece of sandpaper. The goal was to scuff it up enough to hold the paint. 
Step 2: Tack Cloth
This is an icky (yet important) step. Wipe the furniture down with a tack cloth. The cloth will pick up the smallest dust particles so the paint has a nice clean surface to adhere to.

To note: Tack Cloth feels "tacky" because that's its job. You will get a gummy, sticky feeling on your hands. But, it does wash off easily. If you want to avoid the sensory invasion all together- wear a pair of disposable gloves.

Step 3: Paint + Primer 
I chose to buy paint + primer. Faster and easier. I used 2 full cans for this bench. The trigger on these cans was so much easier than the traditional pointer finger release. These triggers are akin to a spray bottle trigger; you use your hand to squeeze rather than a finger to press down. I will look for that type of trigger for future projects.
Step 3: Done!
The table came with three chairs. Initially, I planned to paint and use the chairs too, but after reconsideration, I chose not to. The woman I bought them from was kind enough to have the table taken apart when we picked it up. That made the painting process and transporting to school so much easier.

This table had an option for extension leaves with an opening in the middle. I didn't have (or want) the leaves. Remember, I wanted a ROUND table. Before I sanded and painted, hubby screwed two brackets into the underside to keep the halves from opening.
Step 1: Sanding
The table was a bit different because the table top was a veneer. But, I went ahead and scuffed it up to get it ready. I did use a coarser sandpaper (40) to dig down a bit more. Then I went over that with 80. Again, the aim wasn't a perfectly smooth finish- I just wanted the paint to stick.
Step 2: Tack Cloth

Step 3: Paint + Primer 
Valspar had a great red! I was looking for a particular kind of red that would blend with the other red in my class. Word of caution- check the back labels (not the UPC codes) because I accidentally picked up two "different" reds and did not notice until I sprayed the second, different red on the table. Thankfully, I had other cans that DID match the red that was already sprayed on the table.

I used 2 and half cans for the table. Once I was done with the red, hubby painted 2 coats of a protective clear coat.
Overall, I spent a little more than $100.00. My classroom now has an awesome bench and the much-coveted round table. Plus, I was able to customize the colors. This was a very easy process. The end result was worth the time and effort on my part to get the "just right" furniture and the "just right" colors. Who knows? I might start looking for the next project...I do have materials left over.