Thursday, August 25, 2011

Refinishing a Table

When Fred and I were first married, our dining room furniture consisted of a borrowed card table and folding chairs.  We used the money we received as wedding gifts to purchase a china hutch, a table, and six chairs.  After 25 years, the table top wasn’t looking too good.
Since new dining room furniture isn’t likely to make an appearance in my life anytime soon, and I couldn’t stand my shabby table any longer, I decided to refinish the top of the table.  Fortunately, furniture refinishing was one of the skills my mom taught me when I was growing up. 

She tried to teach me housekeeping too, but that one didn’t take very well.

I don’t ordinarily take on projects like this anymore because of my health problems, but this one would be manageable.  I could take as many breaks as I needed and rest for as long as I needed, and no strength was required since I wouldn’t be moving the table.

After just three trips to Home Depot I had everything I needed.  Note to self:  make a list before going to the store.  I purchased:  sandpaper (coarse, fine, and super fine), masking tape, disposable gloves, a protective mask to wear when sanding, wood stain, a brush, and polyurethane (I chose spray).  I already had an electric sander, rags, and drop cloths.

I would need to work on the table outside (no room in the garage), so I used a tent-like enclosure with screened sides to protect it while allowing for good ventilation.

Here’s the table before I began:

I began by sanding with the coarse sandpaper to remove the old finish.  Then I sanded with the fine sandpaper to smooth out the surface followed by a final pass with the super fine paper.  I carefully dry dusted the table to make sure there was no remaining sandpaper.  Instead of finishing with a tack cloth, I got my hand wet, then dried them on a clean rag.  This very slightly damp rag was used to remove the last traces of sawdust from the surface of the table.

I masked off the table edge then brushed on the wood stain.  Following the directions on the can of stain, I waited 15 minutes, then used a clean rag to wipe off whatever stain remained.

The next day, I sprayed on five coats of the polyurethane, again following the manufacturer’s directions.

The following day, I lightly hand sanded the table top with the super fine sandpaper.  After a coat of furniture polish, the table was ready to be moved back into the house.

It was a lot of work to refinish this table but worth the effort.


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