Inscribed Lettering on A Stained Table Top

Last summer after being in our new house for a year we decided we needed a big dining room table, so I started looking for one on our local auction sites and found a beauty for $50 that just needed to be updated. While refinishing the legs and top my husband pointed out that we should inscribe something on the top since it’s a huge space so why not make it a piece of art.tsble


So this is what I started with, it was stained but not polyurethaned. Pinterest was a great resource and I found a website that had French typography patterns for free called ‘the graphics fairy’.So I found one I liked and sized it to the table and printed it off on normal sheets of paper since I just have a regular printer.


I laid it out just to get a feel of what it would look like. Then I trimmed all the edges off the papers and taped it all together so it was a huge paper pattern. At this point I knew I wasn’t going to be using the lettering that was on the original graphic so I searched for free fonts online and found some that I liked.

  I’m not sure which font I used for the ‘love is always’ words anymore, but I modified the font I did use a little when tracing it on anyway. And I know I did use the font ‘selfish’ for the word ‘victorious’ and all the words that circle the edges of the table. As you can see I just printed the letters individually for the words ‘love is always’, cut them out and placed them by hand, since it was curved, within the pattern and taped them in place. The ‘victorious’ was easier because it was straight so I just printed it out, centered it and taped it.

Here’s where the fun started. I then removed the whole paper pattern and placed carbon paper on the table where the pattern would be, (in the picture above you can see the Carbon paper under it) then put the pattern over top of the carbon paper and taped it exactly where I wanted it. Then I traced around every letter and along each line and mark.  I used this same process for the words around the edges.


Here’s a picture of the outside words just laying on it before the carbon paper is under them, I was playing with spacing and how to wrap the text around the corners.

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And above is what was left on the table after I had traced the letters over the carbon paper and then removed the pattern completely. As you can see it was pretty light but just enough that I could now paint it and make it bold like in the picture on the right.


So I started with the word victorious since it was in the middle and a little bigger then the outside ones. I just used black water based paint and a very tiny detail brush (although I did switch to a wider brush later and used it kinda like you would a calligraphy pen). I had a picture of the word on my iPad so I could look at it and make sure I was painting it right since the font has so many swirls I could get them mixed up and paint in the wrong space or line.

Above you can see the word in progress as well as the very faint lines that were traced on. They didn’t show up in pictures well but they were pretty easy to see in real life.

  I was a little worried because after the black paint dried it looked kinda grey and ashy so I tested the polyurethane over just the s and it popped perfectly.

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Here it is before I polyurethaned it. I used the heavy-duty water base polyurethane by , in semi gloss, and coated it three times and it seems to be holding up well after almost a year.

The text inscribed was inspired by 1 Corinthians 13, and the attributes of love are all around the table. So you can read it ‘LOVE IS ALWAYS, Patient, Kind, Not Envious, etc. It makes for a good conversation starter as well, just amongst our little family, to look at the phrase you are seated by and think if it is something you need to work on or something you do well.IMG_6072 (3)
IMG_6088 (2)IMG_6089 (2)(I had to change the saturation of the pictures because the table kept looking orange so this is as close to the real look I could get)

Shortly after I had finished the table my parents had come to visit, because I was due with baby number three, and so our usual seating was all switched up and I looked down to see what it said by me and it was the word patient 🙂 It was my due date and I needed that encouragement to keep going. I had him the next day. Here he is looking dapper.IMG_0006