Everybody in a long term relationship knows the horrors of buying furniture. You may have been together for a decade, have basically the same interests, plans in life, you combined your families and friend circles, and then you need to buy furniture. Suddenly your beloved looks like a total stranger. How can the person you love more than anybody else like that couch? If your relationship survives the first round of furniture shopping, you may survive as a couple. And then you are together for so many years that you have to do it all again. Especially when you have children. Especially when your children are alien monsters in a cute disguise.
Last year around autumn the little one managed to actually break the legs off a chair. The other ones weren’t very stable either any more, so we needed to go out and buy new ones. And the table looked horrible as well. 14 years of eating, crafting, living had taken their toll on the plates. Nevertheless, while we could agree quickly on new chairs, we could also agree quickly that the tables were not an option. Our table needs to be large and extendable. For some reason, the large tables all had a plate that is split lengthwise, and at that point (apparently they changed since) , could only extended by inserting a plate lengthwise, which doesn’t make sense, since it doesn’t sit more people, but make sitting down and getting up difficult since the table is too wide now.
The only one available at the big Swedish furniture shop that suited our needs was the exact same one we already had… so i decided to restore that one instead, which only took me about 10 month to get done.
This is how the table looked before. The varnish has basically disappeared in the areas most used, there are big scratches and dents. I seized the opportunity to get a random orbit sander and got to work. I removed the old paint and nasty scratches at 60 grit.
Then I did a second round at 150. In the image below one half is already sanded, the other half is not. People who work with wood can feel the image.
Last round was done at 220 grit and off we went for varnishing.
I used varnish for wood floors/stairs, since that is the most durable, and you saw what already happened to the table once.
I applied a total of three layers of varnish, giving them ample time to dry in between.
A first coat of varnish. I lightly sanded in between applying the coats, but by hand and with a 800 grit. One thing about the varnish is that it doesn’t “pull even”. It keeps a bit of a structure, and if you look closely, you can see it (though not in this pic). It also hides dirt until it’s dried and it’s too late…
The legs got some repairs where needed. Down at the feet, where you stub your toes, ant the bars where you put your dirty, sweaty feet. I had to do that inside, it was not nice.
Finally, here we are. The two plates have been sanded and painted. The middle extension isn’t done yet, but we don’t need it every day.
Now, what does my little project have to do with capitalism? It’s easy when you think about it: Capitalism wants me to buy a new table. Capitalism needs me to buy a new table. Capitalism makes it impossible for most people to not buy a new table. A new table would have been around 300€. The materials for restoring the old one were 80 bucks for sanding discs and varnish and brushes, and 150€ for the tools (though I still have those, but they lost about half their resale value the moment I carried them out the door.) That’s 230€ with no guarantee that this would work.
It also took me almost a full week. I have an outdoor space for sanding, but of course that required the rain to stop occasionally, and an indoor space for painting and drying. Also a separate living room with a separate table we could eat on in the meantime. And most importantly: I had the time AND skills to do this and it’s actually something I enjoy. Nobody who dislikes crafting would do this to save maybe 100€. Unless you’re completely poor and have to hope that somebody else throws away their perfectly usable but pretty shabby table.
Now imagine we built our world not around consumption, but around community. Imagine community repair centres. There are tons of people, especially elderly people who can’t / don’t want to do a full work day, but who will happily work a few hours a week. Imagine such a centre where you can go and together (or without you) you can restore your furniture, repair your bike or learn how to fix your leaky sink. Imagine having the time to do so. Sounds good, doesn’t it?