How to: Decoupage on a Coffee Table

Written by timothy sexton
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A coffee table that you découpage results in a furnishing that not only is given new life, but can instil a great sense of accomplishment in you. The method of découpage is always the same, but you can bring your sense of creativity to the project in the form of what type of images you want to transfer to the table. Use your imagination during the planning stage, and your coffee table can become a thing totally unique in the world.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Coffee table
  • Paper cutouts
  • Chalk
  • Pasting board
  • Craft knife
  • Glue
  • Sponge
  • Water
  • Tack cloth
  • Varnish
  • Brush
  • Sandpaper
  • Paper towels
  • Steel wool
  • Satin varnish
  • White beeswax polish

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  1. 1

    Choose paper cutout designs that you want to découpage onto the table's surface. Flip through magazines to find suitable images for the design concept you want to create. Arrange the paper cutouts until you are satisfied with the design. Chalk around the edges of the cutouts while holding the paper down flat with your hand. Make sure you accurately mark the shape of the cutouts onto the surface of the table.

  2. 2

    Turn each of the cutouts so that they are face down on your pasting board. Apply adhesive evenly over the surface, taking extra care to ensure that the edges are covered. Using a craft knife, turn the cutout right side up and place it on the surface of the table inside the chalk mark.

  3. 3

    Inspect the design under indirect lighting, which will reveal flaws and blemishes in the paper. Press down until the cutouts are perfectly flattened and then press down on the edges. Use a sponge to wipe away excess glue that has seeped from the edges. Continue this process until the larger base cutouts are in place and then add the smaller cutouts.

  4. 4

    Allow the design to dry completely. The chalk marks will have disappeared while the surface of the paper and the background will continue to be sticky with glue. Use a sponge moistened in hot water to remove any excess glue from the surface. Clean off the background and any chalk marks that remain.

  5. 5

    Remove all dust particles using a tack cloth. Remove the dust from the legs, sides and moulding of the coffee table. Conclude by removing dust from the tabletop.

  6. 6

    Apply a thin coat of varnish to the top. Use a brush and begin around the outside of the design and work your way in. Make sure to spread the varnish evenly across the entire surface of the table. Brush in one direction only. Occasionally wipe the brush on the edge of the can to remove excess. Apply a second coat of varnish in the same way. When you notice that the varnish has begun to dry or develops a tacky quality, it is time to stop.

  7. 7

    Place the brush into a jar of white spirit and leave it there until the next application. Try to apply varnish in the morning and once again in the late afternoon or evening. Apply a minimum of 10 coats over the course of the next few days.

  8. 8

    Remove dust, hair and other foreign materials by gently sanding with sandpaper. Any scratch marks that appear can be taken care of with the next application of varnish. Continue applying varnish until the edges of the paper are invisible and the paper decoration takes on an almost three-dimensional depth.

  9. 9

    Use very fine sandpaper for a final rubdown after you have applied 20 coats of varnish. Clean away dirty water with a paper towel and allow to dry. Clean with a tack cloth before applying the next layer of varnish.

  10. 10

    Use light pressure to work a piece of steel wool in a circular motion so that you polish the surface until smooth. Clean with a tack cloth and apply a thin coat of varnish. Allow to dry for 24 hours. Clean once more and apply a coat of satin varnish. Allow to dry and harden for two or three days. Apply a coat of white beeswax polish to the tabletop in the same direction as the wood grain. Allow to dry for 15 minutes, then buff and polish until you get a glow on the surface. Repeat this process over the next day or two to achieve a fine patina.

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