I spent a couple hours sanding it down to smooth the rough finish on the inexpensive 2x2's and also lend a more worn, rustic look to the table. I didn't want it heavily distressed with chains or anything.. I just wanted it to look broken in. No crisp corners allowed. I was purposefully uneven and loosey-goosey (a technical term) with my random orbital sander, though; this way even though the corners are all rounded similarly, they're not all straight lines:
The whole goal is to make it look more naturally worn than not, just like distressing paint. Less is usually more in my book.
After sanding, I used pre-stain conditioner since pine is soft and tends to accept stain unevenly which can result in blotchy finished products.
Then I stained the table with a 3:1 mix of Minwax's Ipswich Pine and Provincial stains, since I wanted a lighter finish on the wood to contrast the darker, rusted metal tabletop.
Speaking of the tabletop...
And there it is, my new console table. Very easy, pretty inexpensive (helpful tip: ask your steel yard or metal supplier how much it will cost before you order the tabletop! Just because it's rusted and laying in their garbage can waiting to be recycled doesn't mean they won't charge you full price once they see that you want it. Learn from my mistake. Doh.)
My favorite part about this table is that it's a bit different than most of the handmade or upcycled furniture I see or make. I love a good painted-and-distressed piece, but in my (completely uneducated) decorating opinion, those pieces look more unique and have a greater chance of passing for authentic when they aren't one of 10 similarly finished pieces in a home. So I jumped at the chance to make an easy piece of furniture with an entirely different aesthetic!
What do you think?