Ask This Old House TV // Season 12 // Episode 23

Ask TOH | Table, Stumps, Solar

Tom and Kevin build a simple table from solid fir, and Kevin works with a wood finishing expert to stain and finish it. Roger shows a homeowner how to get rid of tree stumps. And Richard discusses the state of solar energy.

Building a Simple Table
Tom shows Kevin how to build a simple table from solid fir.

Where to find it?

To build this table, Tom used stock fir that is normally used for building decks, including:

½" x 6" decking for the top
1" x 4" decking for the spreaders or rails to which the legs attach
2" x 2" balusters for the legs

These items are available at many lumber yards. If you can't find fir, consider other quality softwoods like pine for cedar. Hardwoods, like maple or oak, may also be used.

To attach the rails to the legs, Tom used a pocket hole jig and pocket screws, all manufactured by Kreg Tool Company and available at home centers and woodworking supply stores.

To attach the rails to the tabletop, Tom used a double washer designed for fastening tabletops and available at woodworking supply stores.

Expert assistance with this project was provided by Anderson & McQuaid Co, Inc.

See below for more information about staining and finishing the table.

Removing Tree Stumps
Roger uses two different techniques to help a homeowner get rid of tree stumps.

Where to find it?
For the first stump, Roger hand dug the stump using shovels and then cut the roots using loppers, a pruning saw, a reciprocating saw with a pruning blade, and a digging bar. All of these items are available at home centers.

To remove the second stump, Roger used a gas-powered stump grinder, which a homeowner can rent from a tool rental shop.

Current State of Solar Energy
Richard and Kevin discuss the current state of solar energy technology.

Where to find it?
Richard described the two primary types of solar power: solar thermal, which produces hot water, and photovoltaic (PV), which generates electricity.

Richard also described leases and Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) for solar photovoltaic systems. These financial arrangements usually have a low out-of-pocket cost for homeowners. With a PPA, the solar provider owns the panels but the homeowner shares some benefits.

A solar contractor is the best resource to determine the right system for your home and whether an ownership, a Power Purchase agreement, or lease makes the most sense in your application.

Expert assistance with this project was provided by Renewable Sales, LLC.

Staining and Finishing Wood
Finishing expert Bruce Johnson shows Kevin some tips for staining unfinished furniture. Together, they finish the table Tom built.

Where to find it?
Bruce recommends hand-sanding a piece first using 120 grit, then a finer grit up to 150-180.

He then recommends using a wood conditioner to prevent uneven stain absorption that can result in blotchiness.

Bruce applied an oil-based stain in the color "gunstock." Once the stain is dry, he applied an oil-based polyurethane for protection.

The wood conditioner, stain, and polyurethane are all manufactured by Minwax and available at home centers and hardware stores.

Expert assistance with this project was provided by Bruce Johnson.


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