What is the best way to refinish a solid wood dining table

It is 65 yrs old at least, my mother said it was "hard rock maple". Has many different type of mars and spots and some of the finish is off completely. Help!

  8 answers
  • Lisa S. Lisa S. on Dec 30, 2017
    Before you completely refinish it. Try a product called Howard Restore-a-Finish. Available at Home Depot/ Lowes for about $9.00 a can. It comes in all colors. You wipe on with a soft cloth, wipe off with a second cloth, and wipe in direction of the wood grain. Wear old clothes and gloves as it will stain your hands. I have "saved" several pieces of furniture with this product. It will cover areas where the finish is worn off. Take off white spots and more. When you finish, then out a coat of good furniture wax on it.

  • Kaye Kaye on Dec 30, 2017

    The first thing I would do is completely clean it with Tuff Stuff spray. Then reassess the damages.

    If you like the color of the finish, then I suggest you:
    1) sand until the damage is better - it will likely not get perfect unless you totally sand it down and strip. Perfect is overrated on old furniture. I think some of the dings repaired per below give it character.
    2) if you can find a close match (test underneath the table to be sure) then touch up the spots with the matching varnish.
    3) Apply coats until you are satisfied with the color.
    4) lightly sand (with a 250 grit by hand) the remaining table (you are trying to create something for the new finish to cling to). Wipe with a moist cloth several times allowing for drying in between.
    5) Apply polyurethane and let dry, sanding lightly between coats. Same as step 4.

    CANNOT Stress enough - be absolutely sure to test all products you are going to use on an area that will not be see.

    Would love to see the results - Good luck, Kaye

  • Cheryl A Cheryl A on Dec 30, 2017
    you can also use chalk paint on it and it works great I have done it on older furniture and even dark stained pine

  • Dianacirce70 Dianacirce70 on Dec 30, 2017
    You can sand it and restrain. Did you want the same color/appearance?

  • 2dogal 2dogal on Dec 30, 2017
    Oh my gosh! Hard Rock Maple! You have a valuable table! Do NOT paint it. You can't get that wood much anymore. Take your time, treat it with tender loving care and refinish it to its original beauty.

  • Cathy Dillon Cathy Dillon on Dec 30, 2017
    I agree NOT PAINT. The wood is too beautiful to cover. That is a valuable table, I'm sure , and would be very difficult or very expensive to purchase the same quality new today. I have had good success with "Formby's" furniture refinisher kit. This sounds very similar to one of the first replies, but they started with "Tuff Stuff" and I don't know what that product is or how harsh it is.
    As for sanding; I don't have much patience for that. I suspect that your table is quite solid and heavy so you won't have to worry about sanding through a thin veneer or anything. You know or will soon figure out if sanding and how much is really needed. If you are sanding down through some sort of wax or other finish your sandpaper will clog up quickly. If you have serious dings or dents and they will bother you later you can always purchase a piece of glass at the end, but get estimates on this cost early in the process.

    Anyway, with the Formby's I very very quickly had to supplement the "kit" with additional supplies. The process starts with basically dissolving the old / existing finish using um... xylene? is that what it's called? It is smelly you need to have ventilation and rubber gloves and should not smoke... it evaporates REALLY REALLY fast, but basically you scrub a small ( plate size) area with xylene and steel wool and rub away the excess with (lots ofold tshirt) rags. it all looks quite splotchy - but you can do that step again, just with a larger area to get the color/ residual finish to blend together more evenly. The remaining steps are applying multiple thin coats of "danish oil" or similar or polyurethane.

    I did two old dressers this way and am very happy with the longevity of the results and the way you can appreciate the grain of the wood and the care with which the particular pieces were chosen to work well as part of the finished piece. No special care needed even though they look like "fine furniture" it is really quite a durable finish.
    Also I would be very wary of anything called stripper. That stuff can actually raise the grain and REQUIRE you to sand it down. I sent a table to be stripped and just could never get itself to do the "finish sanding". It was rougher than a nasty piece of old plywood when it came back. I have used paint Stripper on a metal door and THAT was a nasty messy goopy icky experience. You need extra special gloves to work with that stuff. I would have rather sanded to begin with than have to fix the work that using stripper created! So again; do test your products especially if you are even thinking of stripper for one tiny minute.
    And - if you need a really smooth surface as the end result you could measure and get estimates for the cost of buying a piece of glass to place on the top.
    PS I would not worry much about the legs or the base. I would do them with the formby's process but my standards would be lower, as they are so rarely examined. and Good Luck.

  • Eileen McDonnell Eileen McDonnell on Jan 08, 2018
    I am quite excited to try your method but alas I have to wait for warm weather. We just refinished the kitchen and dining room and I have no where to do this project until I can get the table into the garage Thanks to all ,I will send pictures before. and after.