HomeNewsUCOL lecturer gifts restored table to refugee family

UCOL lecturer gifts restored table to refugee family

By UCOL on Monday, 14 November 2016

Wooden table

UCOL Furniture Design and Making Lecturer Andy Halewood has breathed new life into a decrepit table and gifted it to a refugee family.

Andy received the old table from some friends, but it had seen much better days. Its surface was highly damaged and it was crudely held together by a few screws and strips of medium-density fibreboard. 

Initially Andy didn’t think there was any future for the extendable mahogany table. However, after dismantling it, he saw an opportunity to show his students how an old piece of furniture could be restored.

“The table was in such bad repair that my first instinct was to add it to the firewood pile. But on closer inspection and through a session on restoration I held with my students, we discovered that the table had potential,” says Andy.


Andy demonstrated to his class methods for removing old finish. They looked at stripper, scraping and sanding methods in an effort to rejuvenate the table’s tired, weather-beaten surface. 

Andy then spent the next three days sanding, repairing the veneer, staining, and applying a few coats of lacquer. After that, the table was as good as new.

“I didn’t imagine it would turn out the way it did. It was a really good project because now I’ve seen the potential for veneer.”  

Andy’s intention was to donate the table to a needy family. While surfing Neighbourly.co.nz, he saw an advertisement from a Red Cross volunteer seeking items for a recently-settled refugee family.

The family, from Afghanistan, were looking for sewing equipment so they could make and sell clothes. One of Andy’s students suggested giving them the table to use as a sewing table. 

“I took one of our students to deliver the table and I was fortunate to meet the family, who were really lovely. It was nice to be able to do something to welcome them to our community.”