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  1. #1
    Resident Snot-Nose GZA's Avatar
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    Default How to refinish a wood table

    I have a wood table I am bringing to my new apartment. It is made of maple, it has been sitting in my parents basement for many, many years. The legs and sides are in good shape but I need to redo the tabletop. What is the best way to do this?

    Would sanding off the remainder of the finish/stain and then applying new stain be good? I've done a bit of research, but actually communicating with people is nice!

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    Maybe you should try the http://www.instructables.com/ forum if you have no luck here.

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    likes this gromit's Avatar
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    I am have a big wood table that needs the top refinished and that's pretty much exactly what I was going to do. Probably not a bad idea to test the finish on the underside to see if it matches the rest of the table.
    Your kisses, sweeter than honey. But guess what, so is my money.

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    likes this gromit's Avatar
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    The table isn't super expensive so I figure if I mess up I can count it as a learning experience.
    Your kisses, sweeter than honey. But guess what, so is my money.

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    nee andante bechimo's Avatar
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    Be careful of laminates. They look so real but underneath them, they're just forms of press board.

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    It is definitely actual maple.

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    Senior Member Gish's Avatar
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    With stain you're in for a whole 'nother ball game, but for finishing this should work.

    What gromit said as well, but you'll want to sand it down with some heavier grit to wood and probably use a polyurethane varnish, you can get pre-thinned, or you can thin it yourself with mineral spirits.

    Polyurethane varnish needs to be layered, so you'll put on the first layer kinda heavy to get a good base, this helps keep water stains off. Make sure there are no puddles or anything, though.

    Once that dries, you'll want to get some 320 grit sandpaper and rough it up a bit, not too much, though, because if you cut through a layer it looks like a fucking mess when you're finished.
    BE SURE TO WIPE THE DUST OFF AFTER SANDING EACH TIME

    Apply another layer or two this way, preferably with a finer brush, foam is nice.

    If you're a real stickler you can continue performing this but move onto touching it up by putting on more layers with a rag or something. Rub it down with fine steel wool, who knows.

    For the love of fuck, though, keep the dust to a minimum.

    Finishing is a bitch and you'll probably fuck it up, but it's fun and you'll end up with something you made yourself
    Whoops.

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    The Eighth Colour Octarine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gromit View Post
    I am have a big wood table that needs the top refinished and that's pretty much exactly what I was going to do. Probably not a bad idea to test the finish on the underside to see if it matches the rest of the table.
    Especially if there is any residual stain on the surface. I've had a disaster before with incompatible stains...

    Remember to get a decent sanding tool...

  9. #9
    Don't pet me. JAVO's Avatar
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    What finish is on there now? Do you care if the top looks different than the rest in color, shade, or gloss? Just by sanding the top, you'll expose the very light wood which will take at least a few years to start to darken up, depending on the amount of UV light hitting it. Is it stained, or does it seem to have a natural maple look? A stain or finish different in any way than the rest of the table will affect appearance significantly if you don't plan to refinish the entire thing.

    Maple is a very hard, closed-grain wood. It'll resist water and abuse pretty well on its own. It doesn't really need the protection of a polyurethane finish. What is your planned use for the table? I'm assuming as a dining or kitchen table. I'd probably do something like this:

    1. Sand with random orbital sander. Start with 100 grit if there are blemishes, although you might need to go down to 80 or 60 if they are significant.

    2. Sand with 100, 150, and 220 grits, carefully cleaning all dust before moving to next grit or before first coat of finish. Sand by hand with the grain using 220 grit.

    3. Use a wipe-on oil finish, such as Watco Danish Oil, Tung Oil, or just plain old boiled linseed oil (don't boil it though! ) following directions for dry times and reapplications.

    Polyurethane is very easy to mess up while applying, and if it ever gets a blemish, you have to sand the whole piece down and do it over. Touch-ups will just change the blemish from one form to another. A traditional oil finish avoids the plastic look of polyurethane, and retains the real wood look and feel. Future blemishes can be sanded in small spots or sections, and then re-coated with the oil finish.
    Last edited by JAVO; 07-28-2011 at 11:11 AM. Reason: removed mention of possibly using shellac 'cause it's vulnerable to alcohol and ammonia cleaners--bad for a table!

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