Today I'm sharing a Pinterest-inspired project by my lovely sister, Lacey. That's her on the right. Isn't she cute?
Lacey had an old side table she wanted to revive...and she also wanted to replace her boyfriend's hand-me-down bedside table with something a little more fun. This project accomplished both! I'm going to let her take it away.
I bought this side table from a local discount retailer, in my college days and loved the size of it. It worked perfectly next to a sofa, sitting in front of a window, or even as a bedside table. So you can imagine my distress when the finish started to flake right off the table! I didn’t want to get rid of it, but couldn’t leave it the way it was. Enter Pinterest and the various pins I’d seen on penny tables. Why not give it a try on my already ruined table? Plus, if it was successful, I had a perfect excuse to get rid of my boyfriend’s ugly bedside table (furniture even his grandmother didn’t want) and use this instead!
How to make a penny-top table
Step 1: Painting the table
First things first, sand down all of the flaking finish already on the table. Usually, sanding is a pain in the butt; however, when the surface of the table is already flaking off in your hands, it isn’t too difficult. After sanding, I painted the entire table black (just your basic black paint in eggshell, I believe).
Step 2: Adding a railing around the top of the table
After reading many tutorials on penny tables, I chose to add a thin railing around the table top. This acts as a stopper for the glaze. Other tutorials recommend wrapping packing tape or aluminum foil around the table to give it an edge. While it had worked for them, I was afraid that the tape or foil wouldn’t hold up against the spreading glaze and opted to add a permanent edge. Besides, you can get 8-foot long pieces of this thin molding for just a few dollars at Home Depot.
My father helped me measure and cut 45 degree angles into these pieces, so that they would fit perfectly around the edge of the table. Because the pieces are fairly narrow, we were concerned that nailing them in place might cause the piece to split. Instead, we used some gorilla glue to attach them to the table, and then stacked heavy books on top to act as clamps (if you have actual clamps, that may work better, but alas, I did not, so I put my old college textbooks to use). After they were attached, I painted them black as well.
Step 3: Shining the pennies
We wanted an array of colors of pennies — some shiny and new looking, others duller, and some that almost the black color of a penny that’s been around a long time. I diligently separated out the various colors and decided to shine some up for the first category.
I’d read in other tutorials that Tarn X is the perfect way to do this. You simply pour some Tarn X into a bowl with your pennies, swish, rinse and dry. Piece of cake, right? I found out otherwise.
Two important things to note: 1. Make sure you rinse these thoroughly. Think you’ve been thorough? Give it another rinse. 2. Make sure to dry the pennies thoroughly too. I recommend laying them out on an old towel for a while. If you put the pennies into a plastic bag together and they’re not fully rinsed or dry, you’ll ruin a bunch of pennies, like I did (completely stripped off their copper color).
Step 4: Laying out the pennies
On our first attempt, my boyfriend and I started laying out the pennies and working our way in towards the center. Do NOT do it this way. Sadly, your table will not be a perfect size to fit the pennies exactly. I recommend working from one side of the table to the other. Luckily, we had not begun the gluing process yet, so we could start over.
What NOT to do
As I mentioned, your table won’t be a perfect size to fit your pennies, so you’ll probably end up with some awkward spacing like I did — there was a strip of unused space down one side of the table.
We considered centering the pennies in the table to create equal empty space on all sides, but were concerned that we wouldn’t be able to get it perfect. Derek suggested cutting pennies in half to fill these spaces. However, it still took some finagling to get the pennies to be the exact size we needed. In the end, cutting pennies may have been more trouble than it was truly worth, but it came out looking pretty great!
Step 5: Gluing the pennies
After we decided how we wanted the pennies to be laid out (we chose to alternate face up and face down, and a mixing of penny colors), we started gluing.
We glued some pennies with super glue and some with Gorilla Glue. If I were to do it all over again, I would NOT use Gorilla Glue. The key thing with Gorilla Glue is that is expands as it dries, so I ended up with glue expanding between the pennies that I later tried to cut away with razor blades, and even colored some black with a sharpie to try and hide it. It ended up not being very noticeable after the glaze was applied, but it still bothered me that it happened at all.
Step 6: Applying the glaze
After doing some research, I used Parks Super Glaze Ultra Gloss Epoxy (purchased from Home Depot for about $40). Some reviews of this product complain about it not self-leveling as well as it should, or the formation of bubbles. One person actually used a blowtorch to remove the bubbles during the drying process. Needless to say, I was quite worried about this step!
But it actually went very well. (Note: for this step, you need a room available that is well ventilated, and where the table can be left for a day or two to fully dry.) We followed the directions in the Super Glaze booklet carefully, and were very careful. One addition to the supply list they give you is to have a small foam paint brush handy. It helps to get the glaze into the corners of the table.
Some small bubbles did form, but we were able to pop them by blowing on them. No blowtorch needed!
It’s not professional grade. If you want a professional product, they have glazes that cost around $100 to give you a smoother, bubble free surface. But I have no complaint over how it turned out! I couldn’t be happier :)
In the end, everything went extremely well. The finished product now sits next to my boyfriend’s side of the bed and is a vast improvement over what was there before.
Even the kitty likes it!
Isn't this table so adorable! I just love it. I'd like to pay her to make one for me :)
Are you itching to cover something with pennies, or have you already given it a try? I'd love to hear about it!