Where to begin?


This little end table (at least 40 yrs old) belonged to my parents , but sat on 'Dad's side of the sofa'. As it got older he moved it to his workshop area in the garage. Mom passed 5 yrs ago & Dad is in an assisted living facility several states away. He is 92, has dementia, Covid 19 positive and has been on lock down for 4 months. He was a master carpenter; I am just a amateur diy daughter. It took me 18 mos to repair & refresh my parents house so it could be sold ; the money is being used for his care.

I cannot part with Dad's little table though it is basically 'trashed'. I want to 'fixer'up' as best I can...but I need help. I don't even know where to begin. How to 'fix' it (or at least make it better). What could I use it for (ideas)? Should I paint or refinish? IDK anything other than it will break my heart to set it out to the curb.

Any ideas or suggestions would be appreciated. (Pictures of similar items or completed projects would be great too... for inspiration!)

q where to begin

Top... uggh

q where to begin

Stained and feels kind of 'eroded'?

q where to begin

Corner lifting

q where to begin

Front has 'character'

q where to begin
  19 answers
  • FrugalFamilyTimes.com FrugalFamilyTimes.com on May 24, 2020

    I think the wear from your dad using it is really interesting to look at. What about just conditioning the wood? I like using Howard Feed N Wax on old wood to freshen it and keep the patina.

  • Gk Gk on May 24, 2020

    It can be sanded and repaired. You can stain it or paint it. It will take some glue and clamps, sanding, maybe some stripper if you plan on staining it. Chalk paint would look great too. So many ideas. Don't throw it away or sell it. Sounds like it is important for you to keep it.

  • Jan Clark Jan Clark on May 24, 2020

    What you do depends on how you want this piece restored. Do you want it to look like what you remember your dad sitting next to - or just that 'this was dad's?' Refinish for the first one or 'make it your own' for the second. If you decide to make it your own then choose a place in your home where it fits. 25 X 25 inches is rather large. If you could use it as a coffee table, then consider replacing the legs with something shorter. If not, then leave as is. Then, use your own color scheme to either paint or stain to your liking. The drawer pulls can be replaced with something that goes with your decor, too. For the wood issues, you can either pull off and replace the top veneer or glue it back down. And for the separation near the leg, determine what has happened and repair, glue and clamp it back in place. Whatever you do, use a nice clear finish (from matte to gloss, your choice) and enjoy the old/new table.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on May 24, 2020

    Hello there,

    To remove the varnish , try using Metal Polish (YES) Metal polish. Rub in circles all over. Once removed then use Mayonnaise rubbed in the same way (in circles) leave to dry, then buff up. Hope that helps.

  • Nan W. Nan W. on May 24, 2020

    Cindy: this is how I refreshed a coffee table...


  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on May 24, 2020

    Use fine steel wool to “sand” it. Clean with tsp and see how it looks. You might be able to stain it but you could definitely paint it. I would keep it as well. Sorry you are going through this. I fear this is my near future.

    • See 1 previous
    • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on May 26, 2020

      Thank you for your suggestion. Fortunately, my parents are still at home so I visit & check on them almost daily. But they are 86/88 and not sure how much longer this will work. Her mind is good but not physical, he has dementia but in decent physical shape. But I see both of them slipping. The thought of the book is wonderful. I will keep that in mine. My MIL is in a facility and we go to the window to "visit" with her while we talk on the phone. This whole covid-19 has been tough. Maybe they will be able to lift restrictions so that you can visit. I hope you have a support group. It helps so much.

  • Libbie B Libbie B on May 24, 2020

    I have got to believe this is salvageable. Try a good sanding and wood fill for the damaged areas and then paint or stain. Even if it's now perfect the history is what makes it beautiful.

  • Jessica Jessica on May 24, 2020

    Sand it with a small orbital sander. Go through three stages of grit, finest last for a super smooth finish. If you are going to restain it, use a wood conditioner first. Then stain away. You could also do a cool white or black antique look using chalk paint and then sanding a couple accents after it’s dry.

    • Cindy Rubin Cindy Rubin on May 25, 2020

      Thank you! As a new DIYer, my husband got me an orbital sander👍🏻. I would not have thought of the 3 stages of sanding, however. Great tip!

  • Lena Lena on May 24, 2020

    Too cool

  • Kmdreamer Kmdreamer on May 24, 2020

    Take some sand paper and sand the top down to get all the old stuff off I can’t see the legs if you don’t like them sand them to then I would just put clear varnish on after .

    • Cindy Rubin Cindy Rubin on May 25, 2020

      Thanks! The legs are carved in a very angular way, which i think adds to its uniqueness.

      To think of my parents being so...’hip’ back in the day makes me chuckle. I have a few pics of her when my my 3 older brothers were little... she looks like Jackie O!

  • William William on May 24, 2020

    Use wood glue to repair the raised corner and weigh it down until the glue dries. Squeeze some glue where it's separating and pound it back with a hammer and block of wood. You can clean the hardware.


    Then you can paint it. To much wear and tear to refinish it


  • Rynn Rynn on May 25, 2020

    Remove/clean the hardware, and clean the wood really good as per suggestions above; wipe with a soft cloth. Glue down the raised corner as well as the separated spot with wood glue. Let everything dry, then evaluate. (For sentimental pieces, i only paint what i must.) You might be able to stain the top a deeper shade which could be acceptable even if not perfect. OR only paint the top-- use a dark/black paint to keep it close to original ,or use a cream paint to complement and refresh. The legs and drawer look to be in good condition, so i would not paint. This table is destined for greatness whichever way you go! It must have been quite a nice piece to have survived all these years, and there is a lot of life in her yet. Best wishes to you and your father!

  • Janice Janice on May 26, 2020

    Follow your heart and keep it! You can do the repairs with wood filler, glue, and clamps to sturdy up the leg(s). Have you thought of locating more pics of your relatives, making an arrangement for the table top and having glass cut to size for the top? Do what makes you happy and feels right!

  • Agnes Chrzanowska Agnes Chrzanowska on May 31, 2020

    wow beautiful piece of furniture ...lots of sending and then reinforcing ... please share after pictures ...so curious how it will turn out

  • Quite honestly, I’d do a light cleaning then seal it up as is, personally.

  • AndrewLIK AndrewLIK on May 17, 2021

    This is terrible, did the builders ruin your sofa ?

  • Em Em on Jun 05, 2021

    Two choices. Sand and restain and seal or chalk paint. You could add a few photos of Dad and have a piece of glass cut and slide the photos underneath the glass in random order. You can put silicone dots at the corners to keep the glass from slipping and will always be reminded of Dadicon

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Jun 05, 2021


    Sand it down and use a coloured wax on it. Preserve the look with glass. Best wishes

  • Deb K Deb K on Jun 16, 2021

    Hi Cindy, why not chalk paint it? I lover the look of chalk paint, and you can still distress it to "age" it a bit!