How to Restore an Oak Table Easily

7 Materials
4 Hours

Here's how you can restore a tired oak or other wooden table that may be water damaged, dented, etc and bring it back to life.This method offers minimal sanding, making it easier on the lungs.For a full tutorial, including how to remove dented edges, you can see my larger step by step here:
If you see lots of dents and water damaged areas, you'll likely need to strip it back to expose unseen wood.
Instead of sanding for hours on end, I removed any dents, dirt and water damage with a carbide scraper.Make sure you put a rag down for easier clean up.
Ensure you always go in the same direction as the grain and go extremely gently on the corners.This is great to create a even flat surface. Keep going until you've removed dents etc.If the dents are too deep, fill with the same colour wood filler. Also, if it's oak veneer, for example, then I suggest you try fine wire wool instead.
Once you've removed all of the damage, sand with an orbit sander until smooth.Note, you won't need to spend long doing this because the carbide scraper did the majority of the work.It's ideal, to do this outside on a dry day, but if not possible, above, I'm using a mask instead and the windows are open.
Now seal the wood with 2 to 3 coats of Danish oil, applying with a lint free cloth. You MUST wear respiratory safety gear and gloves for this!Note, be liberal with the first coat as it will take the most moisture in at this point. Leave for 20 minutes and remove.Leave to dry for two hours and repeat, but with less oil the 2nd time round.Repeat again.
To ensure it is also scratch resistant, leave to fully dry for two weeks and resist temptation of using it.Then give two coats of clear varnish.
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Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!


Have a question about this project?

2 questions
  • Michelle
    on Jan 12, 2020

    I have the perfect old farm table for this project! Thanks for the tutorial!

    BTW Where did you find those wonderful deer prints ??? Thanks!

  • Maria Smith
    on Jan 14, 2020

    I have a teak dinning room table with some scratches and gouges and I had it professionally treated but the marks are back. What can I do to repair it? I was told not to sand it anymore. What do others do to the table to restore it somewhat?

Join the conversation

2 of 7 comments
  • Carey
    on Jan 24, 2020

    When Sanding your oak, save all the sawdust. You can mix that with wood glue and fill small holes and they will literally disappear. I was given this sweet tip when I was working with a carpenter doing the finish work on our church! : )

  • William
    on Jan 28, 2020

    As an avid woodworker I have used a carbide scraper to remove paint and finishes off furniture. They are very aggressive. For a fine glass like finish I use cabinet scrapers. Basically spring steel in different shapes. In most applications no sanding is needed. Super share and tips.

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