Asked on Nov 08, 2013

How to restore?

by Jenny
I found this in the trash a couple months ago. Who ever had removed the veneer top it had. I have sand it down and put varnish on the top but it look very dull. I did this process twice. Any suggestions on how i can restore this would be appreciated. It has a label underneath that it's a John Widdicomb table.
how to restore, painted furniture
  30 answers
  • Julie Moyna Julie Moyna on Nov 08, 2013
    chalk paint! @UNFOLDED look at the ideas and inspirations here. The possibilities are endless! So easy and very forgiving!

  • Patricia W Patricia W on Nov 08, 2013
    If you want to keep the wood beautiful without painting it, you can do a very light stain and then varnish. You may have to do a few coats of varnish. I do some staining and some painting. Not everything should be painted and not everything should be stained. Its up to you what you love most. Im just glad you saved this from the landfill! Have fun and enjoy your finished table for years!

  • Sue Geney Bynum Sue Geney Bynum on Nov 08, 2013
    I'd go with a light stain and some replenishing oil like lemon, linseed or mineral to feed the wood and give it some pateena. That is what's missing. Whoever stripped it stripped off all the pateena.

  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Nov 09, 2013
    I have refinished very few things, so would suggest you load it in your truck and seek the advise of a professional. This is a stunning table and will be well worth any effort you take to fine the right answer. (From my limited experience, I would suggest you use a sealer which your professional can advise you on and then get their advise on which kind of varnish you need to use.) Good luck. Be sure and post your results and instructions!

  • 117135 117135 on Nov 09, 2013
    if you decide to stain it, use a wood conditioner before you stain. This helps open the wood pours and allows for the stain to soak in more. It reduces the blotchiness. Very beautiful piece.

  • Jmauermeyer Jmauermeyer on Nov 09, 2013
    clean and use a good wood conditioner ~ really should check with a good home shop like Home Depot ...they may even have classes for restoring ?! check with a good ,reputable antique dealer for identifying the label and ideas for restoring ??

  • Moonchild627 Moonchild627 on Nov 09, 2013
    I agree with some of the other commenters that it should be stained before the varnish. This will make the variations in the wood grain pop. If you are able to identify what type of wood it is, I think that might be helpful in choosing an ideal shade. It's a great find! Good luck with it.

  • M M on Nov 09, 2013
    I seem on Pinterest where someone cover a tabletop with a poster then put a finish on it! Was really awesome!

  • Z Z on Nov 09, 2013
    The problem your seeing with the top is because of the veneer having been removed. The wood underneath, though possibly solid wood, is inferior so anything you do to it won't be as professional, or pretty, looking as it could have been. There are peel and stick veneers on the market where you could add a new top to this pretty table. You can find them here: And how to info here: If you don't want to go to that kind of trouble you might want to paint a faux marble look to the top and stain the rest. Once that is completed you are ready to put on a few coats of polyurethane.

  • Kathleen Kathleen on Nov 09, 2013
    I second the idea of using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. The possibiliities are endless!

  • Sandy Brackens Sandy Brackens on Nov 09, 2013
    Sand where it needs it , clean well with Murphy oil soap , let dry completely ,soft sand wipe clean add coat clear varnish.

  • Gail Salminen Gail Salminen on Nov 09, 2013
    @Jenny I too found a table at the roadside that I rescued - - I used @Ashley @ Domestic Imperfection paper bag treatment, which was quite easy to do. I love this treatment because it looks like weathered leather, but the many coats of polyurethane add to the time required, but the results are worth it. I suggest you look at her tutorial and then decide. I have also done an old bookshelf with this treatment and posted lessons learned there - - do update us on what you do with pics. Thanks for posting.

    • Jenny Jenny on Nov 11, 2013
      @Gail Salminen I like this idea. It will cover the holes they left from removing the veneer. Thank you

  • Sherrie Sherrie on Nov 10, 2013
    I would re-finish the top, stain it! Then Chalk paint. It's a beautiful piece. I would use 220 grit sand paper which is a finishing sandpaper, but it is very kind to your furniture as your stripping it. I am so careful to do a little at a time or strip it and barely sand it again with 220. If you chalk paint it be sure to seal the top don't wax it. Some waxes take 30 to 60 days to cure. I never wax table tops unless I use CC's sealer that goes over wax. but not on table tops for heavily used furniture I seal it. If there is a wood veneer on top it might not stain evenly. After you get it stripped varnish it and then stain it. This gives you a even stain. And it is a whole lot easier to do and get beautiful results. Be sure to use TSP to clean it and the rinse it off! Lovely lovely find!

  • Renee Combs Lage Renee Combs Lage on Nov 10, 2013
    As others have said, I'd go with Annie Slone. Because the veneer has been removed, I don't think the finished product will look very good if you stain/varnish. It's a beautiful piece of furniture, so don't give up on it!

  • Gosh maybe I'm the crazy one here, but dipped furniture, plain is being sold at Restoration Hardware for thousands. I love it as-is, lol!

  • Vivian Villalon Vivian Villalon on Nov 10, 2013
    You can leave as is for a shabby look, or try topping with leather.

  • Carla Larson Carla Larson on Nov 10, 2013
    I have this coffee table..except mine has 3 big windows panes on top with mirror wall holders to hold them from the could just put glass on top....mine is chalk painted white with a dark wax over bring out the details.I love it

  • V Valencia V Valencia on Nov 10, 2013
    I agree with Jeanette@ Snazzy....I think leaving it as is with some conditioning and/or some dry brushing with watered down white paint. You could also use Annie Sloane Dark Wax to bring out the detail the legs, etc.

  • Annette C Annette C on Nov 10, 2013
    what is it that your not happy with? the color or the shine? you can use a 2 step stain/color & top with a high shine urethane or if you like the color of the raw wood use an oil wood soap fallowed by a oil furniture polish, some polish's have a tent to them meant to cover scratches but I've used it to stain over existing wood tint with success. As well as giving the table a patina by layering the tint & removing in natural ware arias for a slightly distressed look.

  • Kelly Wivell Kelly Wivell on Nov 10, 2013
    Annie Sloan paint!

  • Annette C Annette C on Nov 10, 2013
    I like the glass tops to, they are great for the changeable decorations; wrapping paper & scrap book paper with photos of family & friends scattered confetti or fabric & lace or what ever your notch topped with glass changes style when ever it you get the itch.

  • Dee Dee on Nov 10, 2013
    I have had great luck in using Minwax poly shades then waxing with dark wax. I think this is a beautiful table. Don't give up. If you like painted furniture - paint with chalk paint then wax or poly on top.

  • Janet Smith Janet Smith on Nov 10, 2013
    It is possible to have the veneer replaced. Look for a good refinisher in your area.

  • Gail Gail on Nov 10, 2013
    if you want a really high shine there used to be a product called Build 50.. it looks like its about a quarter inch thick when you get done (it was supposed to be like putting 50 coats of varnish on).. I used it on a trestle table I built one time with 2 X 6's.. it looked great.. but it might not go so well with the fancy legs etc on yours as they might look drab in comparison to the top.

  • Mary Mary on Nov 10, 2013
    Too beautiful to paint. I agree with trying to replace the veneer and letting the beauty of real wood gleam. I love to paint furniture when it's not real wood or way, way beyond saving.

    • See 1 previous
    • Mary Mary on Nov 11, 2013
      @Jenny Great Jenny, I can't wait to see it done.

  • Meburke Meburke on Nov 10, 2013
    coconut oil let sit overnight ,rub w soft cloth then use Annie Sloan dark wax esp in grooves/raised areas to bring out its " character"

  • Jenny Jenny on Nov 11, 2013
    Thank all of you for the ideas and suggestions. I am going to stain the bottom half and paint just the top. The top also has deep chunks missing from when they tried taking off the veneer. I'll post a picture when I'm done. It is such a shame when people do this to such a beautiful piece of furniture. I stripped and sanded the table and the wood has a reddish hint to it. The table is solid wood and it is heavy.

    • Gail Gail on Nov 12, 2013
      @Jenny the missing chunks will only add to the look if you can find the 'build 50'.. when i did my table, i put on the finish, went outside to my job, when i came back in there was a fly embedded in the middle of the table..... left it as is and it was a conversation piece whenever we had company... :-)

  • White Oak Studio Designs White Oak Studio Designs on Nov 11, 2013
    Did you try any Minwax stain? Did you try any Miss Mustard Seed Hemp Seed Oil to replenish the wood? These are two things I would try first. Try the underside of the table top to make your decision.

  • MJ MJ on Feb 14, 2014
    How did this project go? Any after pics yet?