Home & Garden

Refinishing a table?

  • Last Updated:
  • Oct 17th, 2012 9:05 am
Tags:
None
Member
Apr 18, 2005
403 posts
74 upvotes

Refinishing a table?

We are the new owners of a used, pine Ikea table. I'd like to try refinishing it to see if it can be improved. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to start? Is a hand sander better than doing it manually? Will I need to varnish the entire table for consistency if it's only the surface that needs to be done?
11 replies
Sr. Member
Mar 6, 2007
950 posts
59 upvotes
Sweet Sparrow wrote:
Apr 10th, 2012 1:19 pm
We are the new owners of a used, pine Ikea table. I'd like to try refinishing it to see if it can be improved. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to start? Is a hand sander better than doing it manually? Will I need to varnish the entire table for consistency if it's only the surface that needs to be done?

I'm not sure how durable pine is, but.. I refinished a coffee table once (some sort of hardwood).

I used a chemical stripper. It was pretty nasty. Mechanically sanding the old varnish off wasn't an option since there was a lot of detail. I think it took like a week. I made a mistake of wearing a long sleeved shirt and the chemical somehow got on it. My skin burned like a wildfire until I managed to get the shirt off and washed my arm under running cold water. So, if you use the harsh chemical strippers, be careful. I redid the entire surface of my coffee table because i couldn't match the old varnish. It looks fine now, but given the cost of materials, and the labour, I would have bought a new one. In fact, my parents still have that coffee table (it's pretty solid, if a bit dated; it's probably 20+ yrs old now). If the table is pretty simple - i.e. no complicated detail - then it might be worth it. if it's got too much detail, then I think you're better off saving your money and buying a new table.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Oct 22, 2007
5944 posts
946 upvotes
Mississauga
It would be helpfull if you had a picture of the table but let's assume there is a clear coat on top. You have two choices, either sand it or use chemical stripper. Seeing as Pine is a softer wood and depending on the condition of the top you may have to sand it down either way. Rather then type a long step by step I'll post a link or two.

How to refinish a Pine Table Top Sweet Sparrow Style

How to refinish a Pine Table, my dear Sweet Sparrow

How to refinish a ktchen table, this one has a video SP.
[OP]
Member
Apr 18, 2005
403 posts
74 upvotes
Thanks, everyone! It's my first project but I want to know what I'm setting myself up for before I start. It's a relatively low-detail table and seems inexpensive enough that if I do ruin it, I won't be too upset. It'll tell me if I should attempt more projects or stop while I'm ahead. :lol:

This is it here with the antique stain:

http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/catalog/products/40176846/

The top already looks stripped to the bare wood. It's a different colour than the rest and feels like it's been roughened to resemble a wooden cutting board that's been washed often (frayed fibres and all). I first thought someone had used a metal scouring pad to brush it. I've also heard that it's been left outside and I have yet to check if it has any water damage. Does anyone know if a project like this is expensive?
Deal Addict
User avatar
Apr 7, 2006
1381 posts
237 upvotes
Remember to get as much dust off before you apply the stain and varnish. I like to use tack cloth for that. Chemical Version(a sticky cloth) , Non Chemical Version(pretty much microfibre cloth). I prefer the chemical version. Also to get a good finish you need to apply the varnish in thin coats, sand, clean, then repeat until you're satisfied with your last coat. Usually I do 2 coats of stain and 3 coats of varnish
Deal Addict
Sep 5, 2009
1320 posts
288 upvotes
I just refinished a table I bought for $40 on kijiji. It was my first project and it turned out to be a lot easier than I thought. Google lots of tutorials. It already had a stain on it, but I didn't want to use a chemical stripper because I read about how harsh they are. For your first attempt, just sand. I did it by hand. Start with 100 grit sand paper and then 150 and finish with 220. The sanding scared me at first, but it was labour intensive and kind of idiot proof.

When you are done sanding use the tac cloth as recommended above. Stain the table, I used Minwax and followed the instructions on the can. I applied the polyurethane with a brush, which if I could do it over I would have done with a spray can.

I did the table a month ago and since then I have done a coffee table and 8 dining chairs, I'm hooked. I bought an orbital sander from home depot for $29 on the weekend and boy does it cut down sanding time. If you pick one up start with a fine sand paper instead of what i recommend above. I keep picking up free items on kijiji and refinishing them because they come out looking brand new, even when the original condition is bad.

For all my supplies for the table I spent about $60. Good luck!
Deal Addict
Jan 27, 2006
4516 posts
769 upvotes
Sweet Sparrow wrote:
Apr 10th, 2012 2:49 pm
Thanks, everyone! It's my first project but I want to know what I'm setting myself up for before I start. It's a relatively low-detail table and seems inexpensive enough that if I do ruin it, I won't be too upset. It'll tell me if I should attempt more projects or stop while I'm ahead. :lol:

This is it here with the antique stain:

http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/catalog/products/40176846/

The top already looks stripped to the bare wood. It's a different colour than the rest and feels like it's been roughened to resemble a wooden cutting board that's been washed often (frayed fibres and all). I first thought someone had used a metal scouring pad to brush it. I've also heard that it's been left outside and I have yet to check if it has any water damage. Does anyone know if a project like this is expensive?

Depends on the type of final finish that you want...

From the looks of it, it's a very thin finish over a danish oil type finish. You can do it the hard way or the easy way... depending on what you want.

The Hard way

The top coat finish can be sanded off (or chemical peeled) as it's probably pretty thin. Once you sanded that off, you can also remove the oil finish as well. You will need to sand a lot as the oil probably soaked unevenly into the wood. Use an 80 grit or lower to remove material very quickly. Once you have removed the old finish, use a finer and finer sandpaper to get the coarse sandpaper marks out of the wood (ie 120, 180, 220, 320). Apply the finish you desire by following various instructions supplied by the manufacturer of the finish. Let dry and enjoy the table.

The Easy way

NB. Works well if there is no water damage to the wood and the surface has no dents or scratches you want to get rid of. The top coat finish is probably pretty thin so you can use an oil finish based on an oil thinner (such as Danish Oil Finish) refinish the surface. Using some Danish oil and 400+ grit wet/dry sandpaper, pour a small amount of the oil onto the surface and wet sand the location gently using a little force and a whole lot of circular motion. The wet sanding will start breaking down the top varnish and the thinner in the oil will reliquidify it while the oil will soak into any exposed wood through the process. You will quickly notice the scratches get darker and imperfections start to disappear. Once those imperfections are gone from the area, move on to the next spot but occasionally go back to the previous areas to keep the colours uniform the the drying consistent. Once you have done the whole work surface, leave it to dry for a few hours. Take a dry clean rag and wipe off the excess finish (turning the rag frequently). Let dry overnight. You can use a lighter oil finish to keep the existing colour or you can use a darker finish to take the colour down a bit. Please note the finish will be a semi-gloss or satin type of finish depending on the type of finish that was on the furniture in the first place.

I've used the Easy way a several pieces multiple times with excellent results. I typically "refinish" those pieces once every few years to address damage in the finish.
[OP]
Member
Apr 18, 2005
403 posts
74 upvotes
On closer inspection, one side of it looks as though it was surface scratched repeatedly. None of the scratches are deep and seem minor. What sandpaper grit should I start with for pine? There are small imperfections, possibly caused by the manufacturing process as if it was a bad cut, or maybe pressure causing the first layer of wood fibres to push upwards. It's not nearly as bad as this, but it was the closest picture I could find.

http://www.canstockphoto.com/wood-textu ... 19928.html

The areas are small but noticable. Should I sand as if they weren't there or will it need any special attention? It may run pretty deep.

There's also a separate leaf to the table. Would setting it in the table and sanding everything at the same time be best? I imagine that will be the easiest to match the colour, but I can't say that the lighting is the greatest in the garage.
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Oct 22, 2007
5944 posts
946 upvotes
Mississauga
We're not sure what method you're going to use for sanding, e.g. hand or machine. If you're using a machine which I recomend..... is it a palm, belt, orbital, type sander. The way sandpaper works is the higher the grit number the finer the sandpaper. I would probably start off with maybe an 80-120 grit and if you find it's too fine then go more course. If you go too course from the start then you'll scratch the surface more then you want. You may also want to sand in an area that's not visable at first like the bottom of the table, untill you find your comfort level.

What type of grit you start with is up to your comfort level as well as the extend you want to sand the top, oh and yes I would install the leaf and do everything at once.


Good luck!
Deal Addict
Jan 27, 2006
4516 posts
769 upvotes
Sweet Sparrow wrote:
Apr 12th, 2012 2:00 pm
On closer inspection, one side of it looks as though it was surface scratched repeatedly. None of the scratches are deep and seem minor. What sandpaper grit should I start with for pine? There are small imperfections, possibly caused by the manufacturing process as if it was a bad cut, or maybe pressure causing the first layer of wood fibres to push upwards. It's not nearly as bad as this, but it was the closest picture I could find.

http://www.canstockphoto.com/wood-textu ... 19928.html

The areas are small but noticable. Should I sand as if they weren't there or will it need any special attention? It may run pretty deep.

There's also a separate leaf to the table. Would setting it in the table and sanding everything at the same time be best? I imagine that will be the easiest to match the colour, but I can't say that the lighting is the greatest in the garage.

Depends on exactly what you want to do. If you want to REMOVE the imperfection, then sanding is NOT the way to go. You will probably need to remove a lot of material (ie 2 to 3 mm, if not more). Using a hand plane and then sanding would be the best option. However, if you just want to flatten the surface (ie fill in the imperfections), wood putty and refinishing it from there would be your best option.

Now if you just want to fix the scratches, it will depend on if the finish is scratched or did it go down to the wood and actually damaged or dented the wood itself. If it's just the finish with light surface scratching, you can try my method posted above OR you can take some very fine wet/dry sandpaper (400+ grit) and do a light sanding (take the shine off of the surface as well as the light scratches), move to an 600 grit and light sand it again. Once that's done, re-varnish with the varnish of your choice.

If the scratches are light enough (really minor stuff), get some good furniture wax/polish (or make some with beeswax, turpentine, water, and soap flakes) and apply a coat, buff and apply another coat, followed by another buffing using a clean rag. You'll be amazed on how quickly light scratches disappear.
[OP]
Member
Apr 18, 2005
403 posts
74 upvotes
The table was sanded with an orbital palm sander and we're up to 120 grit. It looks as though someone used one side of the table as a cutting board so we spent several hours sanding at 120, not knowing how deep the cuts were. We've hand sanded some of the corners under the table where the orbital sander can't reach (like the corners where the skirt meets the table legs) and are thinking about the next steps.

Would anyone recommend using a pre-coat, I think it's called urethane sanding sealer, before the staining process? I checked the link with the video and Ron Hazelton didn't seem to use any in his process. The table he was working on was oak and ours is pine. Does that make a difference? We've sanded the table top as well as the legs to be stained.

Also, is there any difference between the fast dry polyurethane varnish and the oil-modified waterbased polyurethane besides the VOC and the price?
Deal Fanatic
User avatar
Oct 22, 2007
5944 posts
946 upvotes
Mississauga
Hello Sweet Sparrow,

I'm almost finished installing my Oak stairs and although you're using Pine and I'm working on stairs and you.....table...both principals are covered. Read below and hope this info helps.

Staining Stairs - Procedure

Step 1 - Wood Preparation*
Sand the bare wood up to 220 grit. Make sure you get all the nicks, gouges and scratches out of the wood. As you move between grits of sandpaper, vacuum and wipe with a tack cloth to remove all the sanding dust from the previous grit.*

Trick: once you've sanded with 220 grit, wiped the wood down with a rag wetted with mineral spirits/paint thinner. Then look at the wood from different angles. You will be able to see right away if you've missed any nicks or scratches. If there are none, let the solvent evaporate off for an hour or so before you stain. If there are some sour spots, just wait for the solvent to evaporate and resand up through the grits following the procedure above.*

Step 2 - Stain Application*
Closed grained woods (pine or maple, for example) need a wood conditioner applied to the wood prior to staining. Open grained woods generally accept a stain very well, so a conditioner is not needed. Oak is an open grained wood.*

I prefer to use the liquid stains over gel stains. Liquid stains are much quicker to apply. I use a foam brush to apply the stain. Note here... use a good foam brush, not the dollar store cheapo's. I find Lee Valley sells the best foam brushes. Apply the stain in broad strokes with the grain. Try to load up enough stain on the brush so you can stain the length of the board in one stroke. Always keep a wet edge.*

I usually let the stain set up for anywhere from 2 - 10 minutes depending on the nature of the stain job in question. Then wipe off the excess with a rag or paper towel. Leaving the stain on the wood longer doesn't make the wood any darker. If you wanted a darker wood, use a darker stain (or a darker wood). Staining twice, too, is a waste of time. It will not make the wood darker. Again, use a darker stain the first time.*

I prefer, and recommend, oils stains over water base stains. Oil stains are just more forgiving and easier to work with.
Step 3 - Wait*
After you have stained, it will take about 8 hours for it to become dry to the touch, maybe a bit less. But... the stain is not nearly dry enough at this point to top coat. Let the stain dry for at least 48 hours, no less. If you can wait longer, even better.*

Step 4 - 1st Topcoat*
After you've waited at least 48 hours, you can begin to apply the first top coat. First, wipe the wood down again with a tack cloth to remove any fine dust particles. Get yourself a good china bristle paint brush for this task. I recommend Purdy brand brushes. They are more expensive, but well worth it. I generally don't use the foam brushes because they push too much air (bubbles) into the finish as it's applied. Sometimes these bubbles don't bleed out before the finish levels out and flashes over. Same as applying the stain, load up the brush enough to cover the length of wood in one broad stroke. And again, even more importantly, keep a constant wet edge. Once you've top coated an area, leave it. Don't keep going over it, this will only make things worse.*

Step 5 - Wait*
The first topcoat will take up to 8 hours to become dry to the touch. But as with the stain, it's still not nearly dry enough to proceed further. Let this first topcoat dry for at least 48 hours. During this extended drying period, the finish will still be very soft, so you will want/need to stay off/away from it.*

Step 6 - Prep for 2nd Topcoat*
After you've waited at least 48 hours, you are ready to proceed. Get some 320 grit sand paper, and sand the entire surface with the grain as best you can. 220 grit paper is too coarse, and will leave tell-tale scratches in the finish. If you can find a felt backed sanding block or hard sanding sponge, use them to back you sandpaper. Try to avoid using your fingers directly as a backing. Sanding like this will create hot spots that could damage (melt) the finish. Don't over sand. Sand just enough to smooth over the roughness. This usually takes about 3 or 4 strokes. Try to sand in long sweeping one-way smooth strokes. Don't sand by scrubbing back and forth if you can avoid it.*

Note: when you first start to sand, the finish should turn to a fine dust right away. If it doesn't, and the finish gums up, or turns to what looks like eraser bits after you rub out a pencil, stop sanding right away. The finish is still too soft to proceed. Wait another 24 hours, then try again.*

Note: 320 grit sandpaper is sometimes a little tricky to find. I use exclusively 3M brand cloth/paper-backed sandpapers. You may have to look in the automotive section (auto body work) to find this paper. Not all the big DIY box stores carry this paper.*

Step 7 - 2nd Topcoat*
After you're done sanding with 320 grit paper, vacuum off all the sanding dust. Then take a clean paper towel, wet it with paint thinner, and wipe down the entire surface to be top coated. Wait for this to evaporate off, then wipe the surface down again with a clean tack cloth. Once this is done, apply the 2nd topcoat as mentioned in Step 4 above.*

Step 8 - Wait*
Again, wait another 48 hours minimum before applying the 3 coat of finish. Follow the same steps for prep and application as outlined above.*

Three coats of finish are usually good enough. If you wish to apply more, just keep following the steps as outlined above. However many coats you wish to apply is entirely up to you, but like I said, three will usually do the trick.*

After you have finished the final coat, wait at least 24 hours before putting the traffic to it. But wait longer if you can.*
× < >

Top