Refinishing a Dining Table

4 Materials
15 Hours

I got this table for $20. The top was worn, scratched, burn marks, water stains - it was a mess. It was a sturdy table but I knew I could refinish it and give a new, beautiful, country-style look.

Original tabletop

Here is the original tabletop. As you can see it has had many good years of use, but definitely has potential to look new again.

Paint & Varnish stripper

I've never used a stripper, so I thought this would be a great project to give it a try. I always sand until I get down to a wood surface that I can restain, but I wanted to try to get to the original wood without getting covered in sawdust. So I covered the entire tabletop and let it sit for about 4 hours.

Scrap off the varnish.

After the stripper sat on the table for a few hours, I grabbed a plastic scrapper and started scrapping. The instructions said not to use a metal scrapper, to avoid causing scratches. This step definitely took more elbow grease than I anticipated. Once I got off as much as I could, I used a rough sponge with soap & water and scrubbed off any access.

Second round of stripper

The first round of stripper didn't get off much of the varnish. So, I applied a second coat and let it sit for another few hours. When I started scrapping this second coat off, it went much smoother. I also used soap&water and a rough sponge when I was done removing this second layer of stripper.


After two rounds of stripper, there was still small bits of the original finish that needed to be removed. I grabbed a sander and started giving it a final smooth finish. While I ended up with less sawdust, I still spent a lot of time doing two rounds of stripper and giving it a final sanding - therefore, I was not impressed with the time consuming technique of using a stripper.


I did two coats of Minwax Red Mahogany wood stain. I absolutely love how the variations of colors came through.

Paint the table legs

I used a cream color to paint the legs of the table. To make sure that I got full coverage, I gave it all two coats and flipped the table upside down to make sure I got everything covered.

I did three coats of polyurethane over the entire tabletop.

I sprayed the bottom with a satin clear coast by Rust-oleum.

And here is the final look with the sides folded down.

Final look with the tabletop fully open.

Here is a before and after of the tabletop.

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Frequently asked questions
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  3 questions
  • Shawn Hoffman Shawn Hoffman on Dec 07, 2020

    What stripper did you use? This turned out beautiful!

  • Anna Anna on Dec 07, 2020

    Did you paint over the old finish on the legs?

  • Jeanie Jeanie on Dec 07, 2020

    What about using the liquid refinisher that just melts the old finish and redistributes it? That's the easiest way to refinish a piece of furniture. This is a picture of the Mahogany restorer, but they have other wood finishers too.

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