We have a rather nice mahogany dining room table that is beginning to need
refinishing after 30 years of reasonably careful use.
I'm thinkng of doing this job myself. I have a hand sander.
A few questions:
1. Do I need to remove the old high-gloss varnish before saning?
2. Is sanding likely to significantly change the color of the wood?
3. If it does, can I get a stain that will restore it?
4. After staining, should I apply several coats of high gloss polyurethane?
5. How do I prevent, bubbles, which I've gotten in the past when I used
Any guidance appreciated.
Bubba, you're becoming obsessed with Ransley. His message was clear to
me and he is right. Power sanders are bad news for good furniture for
a number of reasons.....easy to get swirl pattern or run dips in the
wood. An older table might be a little warped, which makes hand sanding
safer, again. Inexperience with p.s. can ruin good stuff. If the
finish is shot and the wood damaged, sand away.
What is saning? Do you mean sanding or staining? Stain will not take over
any finish. Use a paint remover to get rid of the old finish first.
The wood color is the wood color. It may lighten any stain that was used
and certainly will get rid of any surface oxidation and the years of patina
and darkeing from UV
Stains, dyes, etc can be used
Maybe. What kind of finish do you want? I'd put a thinned coat of poly
followed by two or three coats of gloss, light sanding between them. Then
I'd wait 4 weeks to fully cure. Wet sand with 600 grit, wet sand with
pumice, wet sand with rottenstone, then paste wax. You get a beautiful
smooth matte finish as good as any pro would expect. More wax and buffing
will get a better sheen.
Read a few books or magazine articles on re-finishing. It takes time to get
a quality job, but can be done.
Is this a trick question? The inside color of the wood will remain
the same color.
No. When you sand, you are removing the patina of the wood that can
not be restored with ordinary stain. Not an issue if your piece is
not a highly appraised antique.
That's your call. Poly protects well, but gloss may give the
furniture a very "plastic" appearance. If you go this route, make
sure your table is absolutely flat, without defects, and inspected
with a low-angle light.
Carefully follow the instructions on the can. Use the recommended
brush or applicator.
I'll take it this is a solid piece, not a veneer job.
You may find it's actually easier to just use your hand. The mechanical
sanders can be tricky and leave a swirl pattern. Use a very fine grit paper
in it if going that route.
You can sand it out or use a stripper. I would do a combination of both so
the legs match too. Otherwise, the legs will not be the same shade.
It will remove the stain and any patina. This is not a bad thing as you'll
Easily but wont be the exact same color. Keep this in mind if you have
matching chairs. You can however get very close.
There are several products. This is one route.
Use a very fine grade of brush and several thin layers vice trying to do it
all in one run. The maker will have a recommended product to use, so follow
what they say. A cheap brush will ruin all your hard work.
If there are deep scratches that go through to the wood, you need to at
least stain those a close color before doing anything else. If there
are a lot of them, refinishing is probably the best choice. If there
are only fine scratches in the finish, then deglossing and putting on
another clear coat would probably be fine. If you sand enough to remove
the stained wood, it will be difficult to match; best in that case to
strip and refinish. I would not use a power sander, and use very fine
sandpaper or steel wool to degloss and put on a gloss top coat. Gloss
finishes tend to be more difficult to brush and often require thinning,
in my experience. Semi is nice.
I don't like poly for good furniture. I prefer varnish, oil-based, good
brush, several coats. Careful stirring (NO SHAKING) and a good brush
should give a good, smoothe finish. If you get bubbles or brush marks,
thin it a tad. Poly is great for table tops that get heavy use, but it
looks plastic to me. Three coats and you can slop KoolAid and PlaDoh
all over it without damage.
A dining room table is not something to undertake as a first refinishing
project. Any little flaw will be seen by many people.
Assuming it is a well made table, avoid sanding off the finish if you
can. You will be removing enough wood to change the appearance even after
You should be aware that the color of the table was not created by using
a single stain. There is probably a base stain with colored toners.
Stripping and then slapping on some Minwax will very likely lead to
Polyurethane is a good choice for high use surfaces but it takes longer
to dry than a lacquer. This creates its own set of problems, especially for
a dining room table.
Are you sure that the table really needs to be stripped and refinished?
What about a good cleaning followed by scratch sanding followed by spray
lacquer or a wipe on finish? This is much less work and will retain the
original color of the table. It will, of course, remove a portion of the
patina that has built up over time but I do not get the impression that it
would be a concern for you.
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