DIY, Featured

Dining Table’s New Lease On Life

Citrus stripper at work

This past weekend, Annie and I headed to Sacramento to spend some time with family and to celebrate her brother’s purchase of a new house. And while most normal people would bring a nice housewarming gift, we loaded up our tools and invited ourselves over for a DIY weekend. It seems they know us very well, because we were greeted with a decent list of projects they had hoped to tackle.  We settled on refinishing a thirty plus year old dining table that Annie’s parents had had in their houses growing up. Pretty cool to take something with so much history and polish it back up to its former glory.

Dining Room Table

After looking at the table and noting some gouges and a really prominent ironed shaped flat spot in the finish (I’m told Annie’s college roommates were responsible for this), we decided to leave the color the same and just refinished the top of the table (the legs seemed to be in good shape). The table appeared to be oak with a walnut colored stain on it, so we went ahead and got the closest color in Minwax’s Special Walnut stain.

Dre sanding

We first tackled the table with a palm sander and a 60 grit sanding pad, but found that the surface would heat up and get a gummy residue clogged in the pads. I then went to 100 grit, but had the same results.

 Henry Sanding

We even got a little help from our nephew Henry.

After realizing this was going to take us hours to get to bare wood, I broke out the citrus based stripper and applied it to the table.

 Citrus stripper appliedStripper at work

I let it sit for the recommended 15 minutes and then did a test scraping to see if the varnish was coming up. It worked really well and we had the table down to bare wood in 10 minutes. The only downside is that the stripper left a gummy residue in the cracks of the table so we spent some time cleaning up the edges with a rag and some mineral spirits.

Another quick trip with the 100 grit sandpaper and we were ready for some stain. We used Minwax Special Walnut and applied three coats a few hours apart. Once the tabletop matched the legs, we wiped it down and started thinking about applying a finish.


Girls applying stain

I’ve come to really like the Minwax Wipe-On Poly (High Gloss) as it is incredibly easy to apply and lets you apply coats until the finish is as thick/shiny/rough as you like. If you take some time to lightly sand between coats, you can get a really smooth finish that looks like it has been hand rubbed. Andrea finished up the table after we left and ended up applying six coats total.

 Stain done and drying

It turned out great and only took a couple hours of actual work. The time consuming part comes from having to wait for the stain and poly to dry between coats. Luckily, Andrea had her stopwatch out and followed it to the minute.

 Wipe On Poly Close Up

Table finished

Hopefully they invite us back – I heard setting a new post and mailbox is on the list.