How do I refinish this 100 year old table?

by Carolyn

Any idea on how to best refinish this table?

  10 answers
  • Jeanette Jeanette on Jan 26, 2019

    Fern table. I have 2, but one is continually needing to be fixed, as the top panels are wonky. Personally, I like it the way it is.

  • For wood furniture that I don’t want to strip, I use a product called Howards Restor-A-finish and it does an amazing job of covering up years of damage. First you rub it going with the grain of the wood using steel wool. Then do another coat rubbing in with a cloth. I can’t tell what color you’d need but choose a shade lighter than your table.

    Howard RF6016 Restor-A-Finish, 16-Ounce, Dark Walnut

  • Shannon Stordock Hecht Shannon Stordock Hecht on Jan 26, 2019

    Refinishing is anathema to most antique people. I would see what the underside of the bottom shelf looks like. If the wood is nicely grained and unblemished you could guess that the top would look similar if refinished. If the piece has sentimental value you might consider just a good cleaning. If it's just an old table check with a refinisher for advice. We have had several pieces refinished that were simply looking worn and had no real sentimental or monetary value. I have an old Mission table that will never be refinished due to the value.

  • Tom Tom on Jan 27, 2019

    I follow the directions I learned from watching Ron Hazeltons How To Restore the finish on an Antique Table. This has worked for me many times and does not destroy the great look of old.

  • Wyatt Wilson Wyatt Wilson on Jan 27, 2019

    I reamalgimate the old finish by using a mix of 50% alcohol and 50% paint thinner (alcohol for the shellacs and PT for the varnishes, as it may have both over the years.) It is inexpensive as you are not buying $$$ branded products.

    Working with a plenty of very fine steel wool and good gloves, you are not scraping the finish, you are dissolving it. The surface will gently melt, and you remove the years of grime. Work it until you have the finish you want, but do not completely strip it.

    You can then coat it with a poly or other water / alcohol proof finish.

    I always test a small indiscreet spot, like under the bottom.

    This has worked for years and was an old family method, learned from a furniture restorer over 60 years ago.

  • Dsouther Dsouther on Jan 27, 2019

    I saw a video of a lady using lemon oil that worked wonders on an old antique piece. She just poured on a small amount and rubbed it on going with the direction of the grain. Then she buffed it with a soft clean towel (probably microfiber). Honestly it looked great when she finished. If your piece is valuable or sentimental, I would contact a professional or just leave it as it is. PS I am not sure where to buy high grade lemon oil.

  • Joyce L Nevels Joyce L Nevels on Jan 21, 2020

    I found an old handmade Irish table that is very weather beaten and dry ...I would love to make it into a dining table. What do you suggest that I do to make this into an appropriate eating table. I would like it to have a dark to medium color but yet maintain it's old look. Thank you for any help you can give me.

    comment photo
  • Deb K Deb K on Mar 13, 2023

    Hi Carolyn! I love chalk paint for this! You can give it a distressed look if you like as well!

    or just paint

  • Mogie Mogie on Mar 13, 2023