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How to Refinish a Table in 5 Steps (It’s Actually Easy!) | Architectural Digest

Knowing how to refinish a table isn’t a skill privy to designers and woodworkers only. Sure, they’re professionals, but that doesn’t mean you can’t crack this DIY. yes, you can give your trusty-but-a-little-beat-up flea market a new lease on life in just a few steps, regardless of whether or not you’ve ever wielded sandpaper. It’s actually a pretty simple DIY, and, technically, you don’t even need sandpaper if you’re planning to paint the surface rather than stain it—you have options if you’re looking to skip that step.

Who knows, refinishing furniture may just be your calling. Once you’ve mastered a wood table, use all of this newfound knowledge on a rickety Craigslist dresser, a could-be-really-great end table, and a hand-me-down sideboard. Go to town—here’s how to refinish a table in five easy steps.

Shop for supplies

Before you can make over your dining room table, or any wood furniture for that matter, stock up on all the necessary supplies. Here’s what you’ll need:

Step 1: Understand your wood table

Furniture designer Andrew Hamm cautions to “pay attention to the level of detail on the piece before you start. “Super ornamental furniture is going to be tedious,” he says. “If you’ve never refinished anything, stay away from pieces with too many hand-carved details, scrollwork, or tight corners.”

Solid wood is a better candidate for refinishing than veneer, which tends to be thinner. Refinishing laminate won’t work—it’s plastic. If you’re not sure what kind of wood surface you’re working with, Hamm recommends looking at the grain of the wood: “If it repeats across the width of the grain, it’s veneer, because it’s been rotary-sliced ​​off a single log to make a sheet.”

Step 2: Clean your wood table

The biggest mistake first-timers make with refinishing is not reserving enough time to clean, or prepare the surface. Before you strip the current finish, thoroughly clean the entire table to remove any dirt, oil, or grease, Otherwise, you’ll be grinding the debris into the wood as you sand. Use standard cleaning supplies, like an all-purpose cleaner.

Step 3: Strip the first finish

When it comes to the old finish, you’ve got a few options. You can use a chemical stripper to remove the original coats of paint or stain; just make sure you’re following proper instructions on the product label. In general, you’ll want to wear rubber gloves and long sleeves and work in a well-ventilated area. Once the stripper softens the finish, run a putty knife or scraper along the grain of the wood to remove the first finish. Sand down the table after with an 80- to 120-grit sandpaper to ensure that the surface is as smooth as possible.


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