Need to refinish my table top

I would like to refinish (do "something" to improve the appearance of) my octagonal breakfast table.
The top is a composite of small pieces of wood, similar to a parquet floor, but smaller individual pieces. It was stained a dark walnut, but the stain has been partially worn off causing an unsightly appearance. It does not now have a varnish or other finish, except the stain. The table is heavy and looks somewhat rustic, rather than elegant.
What is the best way to enhance the appearance of the table top? Should I use a belt sander to remove the top layer, re-stain it and then put several layers of clear polyurethane finish on it?
Is there a better or easier way to go? Is polyurethane the toughest finish available?
Thanks for any input.
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Walter
www.rationality.net
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Here is a photo of the table top
http://www.imagegenie.net/uploads/2861d40444.jpg
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Walter
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Walter R. wrote:

I would try an orbital sander, you might screw it up with a belt sander.

You know about epoxy resin? Much more durable for a table.
http://www.cherrytreetoys.com/prodinfo.asp?number $-100-5&aitem=5&mitem&dept)5
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also ask at www.refinishwizard.com
wrote:

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Do not use a belt sander!!!
I would use a 1/3 sheet sander.
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I use belt sander all the time, but if you\'re not practiced with one,
I\'ll agree w/ the others it\'s potential gouge time... :)
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Thanks dpb
What does ROS stand for?
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Walter
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Oh and by the way, a satin finish wears nicely to a soft glow in no time at all.
Kate O|||||||O
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Walter R. wrote:

Random orbit sander -- recommend Porter-Cable as combination of inexpensive yet good -- probably available locally at one of the big box stores for about what it is online. (BTW, the Orange Borg has Ryobi that may be cheaper -- I recommend strongly against it because of the case design is _terribly_ uncomfortable in my opinion. It'll do the job, but is much less of a tool and the price differential if any is well worth it for the P-C). Don't need the VS (variable speed) for this job. I prefer the pressure-sensitive pad instead of hook & loop because the paper is half the cost or less, but I do a lot of woodworking so it matters. For the occasional user, the convenience may be more advantage than the extra cost of paper.
(Amazon.com product link shortened)78556327&sr=1-3&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_snter-41&pf_rd_r=1VEHZD1B00YDF8WXDTKA&pf_rd_t 1&pf_rd_p'7661601&pf_rd_i00GIO1UG
Somebody else recommend Minwax polyurethane -- I am partial to Minwax Original Oil Finish and have no problems w/ most of their other products as well _EXCEPT_ for the relatively new "Polyshades" line -- it is terrible. Daughter had used some on refinishing her kitchen cabinets and was a real pita to get something even half-way acceptable out of the mess it left. Avoid that like the plague.
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I just bought a Ridgid, available at Home Depot... I LOVE it. It's quiet, uses velcro adhesive for the sanding discs, is variable speed with a pretty good dust collector. Nice long cord too and of course a storage case.
Kate O|||||||O
Walter R. wrote:

Random orbit sander -- recommend Porter-Cable as combination of inexpensive yet good -- probably available locally at one of the big box stores for about what it is online. (BTW, the Orange Borg has Ryobi that may be cheaper -- I recommend strongly against it because of the case design is _terribly_ uncomfortable in my opinion. It'll do the job, but is much less of a tool and the price differential if any is well worth it for the P-C). Don't need the VS (variable speed) for this job. I prefer the pressure-sensitive pad instead of hook & loop because the paper is half the cost or less, but I do a lot of woodworking so it matters. For the occasional user, the convenience may be more advantage than the extra cost of paper.
(Amazon.com product link shortened)78556327&sr=1-3&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_snter-41&pf_rd_r=1VEHZD1B00YDF8WXDTKA&pf_rd_t 1&pf_rd_p'7661601&pf_rd_i00GIO1UG
Somebody else recommend Minwax polyurethane -- I am partial to Minwax Original Oil Finish and have no problems w/ most of their other products as well _EXCEPT_ for the relatively new "Polyshades" line -- it is terrible. Daughter had used some on refinishing her kitchen cabinets and was a real pita to get something even half-way acceptable out of the mess it left. Avoid that like the plague.
--
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I have same basic complaint against the Ridgid as the Ryobi -- to me they are not comfortable to hold for any length of time. No idea how well one would hold up in comparison to the P-C, either. I've done complete sanding job in paint prep on old barn w/ 3-1/8" siding w/ the cove so can't use anything larger to follow the edge w/ the P-C's. Used 12-14 hr/day almost continous for hours over a structure 66-ft long by 38-ft wide, 14-ft high to the bottom eave edge, 40-ft high to the center ridge on each end. After that abuse, they're still going strong w/ only a replacement set of bearings on one of them. One (and the recommendation is good because I can't tell which) was dropped on the concrete slab from the manlift platform while working near the top so it was well over 30-ft. Went down, picket it up, plugged it in and away it went...
Only complaint I have w/ the newer models is the "brake" system -- it is only a large o-ring around a post inside. The friction builds up a tremendous amount of heat and over a long time fried the bearings (hence the new in the one) and makes it imperative to wear gloves if run it for hours at a time. I now open them up before ever using them and simply take the o-ring out and throw it in the spares bin...
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HI Walter,
I've refinished a number of old things.I am just terrible about saving old pieces, dragging them home and loving them back to life. I'm in the middle of refinishing an old sideboard right now.
The tabletop you have looks really nice to me. It has a lot of personality. I like the rustic look of the wood. It's a nice piece.
First, I would use an orbital sancer, not a belt sancer. Belt sanders have a tendancy to gouge and are very directional in their use. An orbital will work nicely with the changing direction of the wood grain.
You've said that the table has no finish on it presently, though from the photo it looks as if it does.
Before staining or sanding get a can of paint stripper and strip it first. Then wash it with a scotch brite and lacquer thinner with just a dollop of paint thinner mixed in to slow the drying time. Wear gloves, stripper will burn your hands.
When it's all clean and dry, then start with about a 100 grit sandpaper on your sander and get it smooth, then on to a 220 to get all of the sanding scratches out of it.
Next, if you want to stain it, go ahead, then apply a clear coat.
For a DIY project like this I would use a Minwax Polyurethan finish and put a minimum of three coats on it. The first being a light coat and the next two medium. If you get bumps you can lightly sand them out with a 400 grit before the final coat to give it a nice even finish.
You will need to have patience for this project but in the end you will be so happy with it and be proud of your accomplishment.
For folks who really know their woodworking try the guys in rec.woodworking
Best of luck, I'd like to see some photos when you've finished it!
Kate O|||||||O
I would like to refinish (do "something" to improve the appearance of) my octagonal breakfast table.
The top is a composite of small pieces of wood, similar to a parquet floor, but smaller individual pieces. It was stained a dark walnut, but the stain has been partially worn off causing an unsightly appearance. It does not now have a varnish or other finish, except the stain. The table is heavy and looks somewhat rustic, rather than elegant.
What is the best way to enhance the appearance of the table top? Should I use a belt sander to remove the top layer, re-stain it and then put several layers of clear polyurethane finish on it?
Is there a better or easier way to go? Is polyurethane the toughest finish available?
Thanks for any input.
--
Walter
www.rationality.net
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<snip>
You really know your stuff. Any advice on stripping an oak table with what I believe is polyurethane finish? I have a heat gun and was wondering if that would be the way to go.
nancy
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Hi Nancy,
I can't say I know everything, far from it! But - I've made enough mistakes to know a lot of things NOT to do LOL.
I've tried heat guns to strip and all that seems to happen (in my world) is that it turns to goo and I end up using stripper on it anyway. It's tedious at best and slow going.
For removing urethane I think I would use this: http://www.homaxproducts.com/products/surfaceprep/10/index.html
Then just keep on pluggin :)
Kate O|||||||O
wrote

<snip>
You really know your stuff. Any advice on stripping an oak table with what I believe is polyurethane finish? I have a heat gun and was wondering if that would be the way to go.
nancy
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Thanks for your detailed instructions, Kate. Looks like I have my work cut out for me.
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Unless there is a finish coat of varnish or shellac or similar on top, the stripper will do very little if anything on a penetrating stain. But, if it is a finish laid on top of the wood instead of being soaked in, it will allow you to remove it first.
It depends on what you're after as a finished product -- if you want to simply refurbish an existing finish and there isn't a varnish or other layer as you suggested initially, a quick sanding to remove dings/scratches and a new similar oil-based penetrating stain will blend into the existing and leave a uniform color. After that, it's a choice of whether you want a hard finish like a varnish or something more subtle like an oil--both have advantages/disadvantages...
If you want to get back closer to the original wood color before staining, you could try the oxalic acid bleaching route...
There are as many ways in detail as there are people to supply their ideas... :)
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*snip*
There are as many ways in detail as there are people to supply their ideas... :)
Boy, you said it all right there. What works for one person may not work for the next guy. (or gal)
Kate O|||||||O
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My Pleasure Walter, It sounds a LOT harder than it is but the feeling you get when you have it all done is wonderful.
My solid walnut dining room table is about 100 years old. I resued it from under a carport where the rain was pouring down onto it. It's now a wonderful piece of furniture that everyone admires. It still has some carachter marks that I chose not to fix and I had to paint the legs because they were so badly damaged but I still love it!
Good luck, and if you get stuck, holler maybe I can help! svtkate AT selby DOT ws
Kate O|||||||O
Thanks for your detailed instructions, Kate. Looks like I have my work cut out for me.
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