Restoring (no Paint) a $15 Mahogany Table, Plus Two Regency Chairs

5 Materials
I bought the table and chairs separately but knew they belonged together once they were side by side. The table was a find that a friend of mine spotted at a yard sale for just $15! The chairs were bought with another table sometime earlier.
Starting with the table, I wasn't sure I could save the top surface so was prepared to apply a stencil or (heaven forbid - paint it!)
The chairs were just dusty and dull with outdated leather in a flesh color. Bleh!!
Here's how the table looked when I first brought it home. It had definitely seen better days!
I bought these chairs with the table shown in the photo. Obviously not from the same period or quality. I think I paid $40 for all three pieces. Score!
I removed the leather from both of the chairs and found this dusty, yet intact muslin and cotton batting base below. I vacuumed as much as the dust out as I could and left it alone.

I lightly sanded and cleaned all the wood work, then applied Black Cherry (Varathane) stain all over each chair. The grain in the wood was beautiful and in amazing condition.
Here's a preview of what the three pieces would look like together. By this time, I had sanded the table top and removed all the stains. YES - ALL of them.

To removed the black rings, I used a solution of oxalic acid and water and tamped around the discolored areas. I let it sit for 15 minutes and watched the stain gradually disappear.

To neutralize the oxalic acid, I mixed the same proportion of vinegar to water (I believe 2 Tbsp to 2 cups water) and went around the rings again and waited a few minutes before blotting off.

As you can see, the table top looks brand new. I'm guessing that all three pieces were from roughly the same period (early 1900's).
Here's a closeup of part of the table, as well as the beautiful details of the wood framed chair.
I reupholstered the chairs in a luxurious black velvet and trimmed out the bottom with tarnished brass tacks. I wanted something special for this set; like something you'd sit down to have a whiskey or glass of wine just before a night on the town.
Finished Open Arm Chair
Finished armless chair
Finished set
Finished set. **It looks like I hadn't put a dust cover on the bottoms of the chairs at this point. Oops!
One last look
Suggested materials:
  • Varathane Stain - Black Cherry   (Home Depot)
  • Black Velvet Fabric   (Joann)
  • Oxalic Acid   (Amazon)
See all materials
Frequently asked questions
Have a question about this project?
  1 question
Join the conversation
4 of 13 comments
  • Kathrine Connery Kathrine Connery on Sep 15, 2016
    I'made so glad you didn'the paint it. There's so many people painting and I know the effect is great but some of that old wood is glorious when brought back to life as you have here. I love it.

    • Chairished Furnishings Chairished Furnishings on Sep 15, 2016
      I do paint quite a few things but most of the pieces I find are not like these were. When I cleaned them up, I just couldn't cover up the wood. You can't find new furniture of this quality any longer. Thanks for your nice comments

  • Rachelmary Rachelmary on Sep 17, 2016
    I really like your work. So perfect.