Vintage Dining Table and Cane Chairs Transformation

Hey friends! Today, I'd like to share with you all about our thrifted dining table and chairs makeover!
I refinished this set from Goodwill a few years back, but it’s still beautiful and in great shape! I absolutely LOVE the cane chairs and the curves of the table legs. And — knock on wood — the cane chairs have held up after all these years! Lol! ;)

The pic below shows how it started out…an old, dilapidated mess! You can’t see in the pic, but all of the chairs had some 80’s fabric that was covered with clear plastic. It wasn’t pretty! And you can see the watermarks on the table as well!
First, my sweet honey carried the table and chairs onto our back patio to protect against the fumes AND to keep from having to sweep up the big mess I was about to make. ;)

Next, I sanded down the table to give it a rough edge, so the paint would stick. Third, after wiping off the grime from the sand job, I began to paint. It only needed a couple of good coats.

Now, came the exciting part! It was time to adhere the poly! (I used polyurethane only on the tabletop, in order to protect the surface.) So as I painted the poly on, I noticed that a yellowish tint started to appear. And being the newbies that we were to refinishing furniture, my hubby and I both thought that maybe it would dry clear….Afterall, the outside of the can DID say that it was a clear poly. Below is a pic of how it dried. An ugly yellow. Just terrible.
I was so disappointed that it didn’t dry clear like it was supposed to! So, I started over. Thankfully, there’s this wonderful product for people like me who have to start again or who want to strip paint off of something! It's called Citristrip, and it worked like a dream! It’s wonderful! I just followed the directions on the bottle, and the layers of paint and the yellow poly came right off. It was amazing! Below is a pic of what it looks like, once applied.
One good thing that came from this project is the fact that I realized (after sanding the poly off) that I liked the tabletop a natural finish instead of what I originally planned, which was a white tabletop!
So, after learning my lesson the first time, I repainted and then applied what’s called Waterlox. And I’m here to tell you that this product actually DID dry clear (or at least as clear as one can get with a “natural” finish)! I just painted the Waterlox on the top of the table and on the arms of the chairs….wherever I thought there’d be a lot of wear and tear.
So there you have it, folks. My refinished kitchen table and chairs. We eat on this table; we do homework and projects on this table; we use the sewing machine on this table….What can I say?! We use this table for everything, and it’s held up beautifully!

If you're interested in discovering all the supplies I used for this project, click on the link below, and it will take you directly to this post. ;)

Have you ever had a mishap with poly...or with refinishing furniture in general? I’d love to hear your story and even learn a thing or two about furniture makeovers! Comment below, or stop by the blog and comment there. You can also find me on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest. Have a wonderful day!
The Rustic Boxwood
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
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3 of 9 questions
  • Ligia Cruz Vargas Ligia Cruz Vargas on Aug 19, 2017

    Was your table solid wood? My dining room table is all scratched and I would like to finish the top but it's veneer. Can I sand it down? Thank you.

  • Tammy Goemaat Tammy Goemaat on Jul 12, 2018

    What type of paint did you use?

  • Kay Kay on Mar 17, 2019

    It turned out beautifully. The Waterlox product? Does it dry to a shine or flat finish? We just put a wood top on out kitchen island and I know I need some protection but do NOT want any shine. Thanks in advance.

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3 of 59 comments
  • Annie Doherty Annie Doherty on Jun 16, 2016
    Lisa what a terrific transformation it is so beautiful and you and your family can now enjoy it for many years to come. As an 'old' refurbisher I really admire people who can turn ugly ducklings into beautiful swans, it just gives you so much satisfaction. Thanks for dharing
    • The Rustic Boxwood The Rustic Boxwood on Jun 16, 2016
      Aww, thanks so much, Anne, for your kind words. We absolutely love our table and chairs, and I'm thrilled to share it with y'all! :) Hugs, Katie
  • Joanie Joanie on Nov 11, 2017

    Your makeover is just say the least!! I wouldn't mind eating off this table for Thanksgiving!! Happy Holidays!!