Refinishing dining room table? ? ?

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 polyurethant?
Any guidance appreciated.
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Is it a nice table, is it veneer. Is sander random orbit. Without seeing it cant say but a sander may ruin it.
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On Sat, 24 Jan 2009 08:58:48 -0800 (PST), ransley

dont pay attention to this rambling idot called ransley. He cant read and cant comprehend. Bubba
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Bubba wrote:

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.
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Cant you do better than that, no you are bubba.
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Table is solid -- sander is adjustable for orbit or backward/forward motion.
wrote:

Is it a nice table, is it veneer. Is sander random orbit. Without seeing it cant say but a sander may ruin it.
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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.

Better brush.
Read a few books or magazine articles on re-finishing. It takes time to get a quality job, but can be done.
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On Sat, 24 Jan 2009 11:56:22 -0500, "Ray"

No.
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.

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Many thanks -- great help.
wrote:

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"Ray" wrote

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 restain it.

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.
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Ray wrote:

Don't shake the can. Stir, if you must, gently.
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Ray wrote:

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.
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I don't like poly for good furniture. I prefer varnish, oil-based, good

Poly is a type of varnish and most are oil based.
Most poly finishes do look like plastic, but you can rub them out to look as good as any varnish you've ever seen.
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Ed Pawlowski wrote:

Should I have said "resin based"........long time since I used poly varnish, but I didn't like it.
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Hello,
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 refinishing.
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 disappointment.
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.
Good Luck.
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