Refinishing Table Top

speckledcatMarch 23, 2009

My dark pine table has a hazy white spot caused by having something hot set on it. The table is about 35-37 years old and is Ethan Allen's "Old Tavern Pine" finish, but that's about all I know about it. I would like to remove the finish and then use some type of clear sealer that won't be so sensitive to fingerprints, water stains, etc. I'm assuming that the white spot will come off when I take off the finish. (1) How do I remove the clear finish without stripping the color? (2) What product should I use and what process should I follow to get a nice finish?

Thank you,


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(1) You can't
(2) There are myriad processes and products. Assuming you are a relatively inexperienced finisher, the easiest and least troublesome finish to apply is a wiping varnish.

First strip off the finish with a chemical stripper. Let dry overnight.

Sand lightly with 220 grit sandpaper.

Apply stain. A good gel stain will give best results on pine. Let dry overnight.

Day 1:
Start with a good varnish and thin 50:50 with mineral spirits. Wipe on a thin coat with a clean rag. Repeat this when the finish is dry enough not to stick to your finger. Repeat again. So you have 3 coats of thin finish on. Let this dry overnight.

Day 2:
Sand lightly with P400 sandpaper, dust off residue. Repeat the same wiping process on day 2.

Day 3:
Repeat the same day 2 process on day 3.

You now have 9 thin coats of finish that is about the same film thickness as 3-4 (properly) brushed coats.

Though you could use Minwax varnish, it would not be my first choice, but way down on the list. Minwax stain (sold as "Wood Finish" for some reason) would not even make my list. Most colors are a particularly poor choice for pine.

Waterlox, Pratt&Lambert, McCloskey's (now Cabot 8000) and Behlen make excellent non-poly varnishes. Even Sherwin-Williams makes a non-poly varnish.

While I can remove water spots without refinishing, a factory finish of this age has probably seen its useful life.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 6:47PM
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Before you do the big refinish....try the simple....a rub with a very gentle abrasive.
The folk remedy is cigar ashes rubbed on the spot moistened with salad oil....but mineral oil and rotton stone may work better.
Try it before you do the strip it down and refinish...if that's the only problem you have with the piece.
Linda C

    Bookmark   March 23, 2009 at 10:19PM
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I have tried a gentle abrasive (ashes) with no luck. I'm not familiar with rotton stone. What is it and where can I find it? I am not eager to strip and refinish and am hoping there is another alternative.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 12:49AM
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With your title and description of problems, I led you toward refinishing.

>While I can remove water spots without refinishing, a factory finish of this age has probably seen its useful life.

You can get these at Bed, Bath, & Beyond, and some Lowe's and Ace Hardware stores. It will remove the water spot and if you do the whole top, it may restore some life.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2009 at 8:20AM
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Thank you for the suggestions. I'll try the Guardsman product first.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2009 at 11:43PM
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They work really well. I've removed 6 spots from two different tables this week. If you like the look, buy a couple of them and do your whole table top. It may restore it and add some life.

    Bookmark   March 27, 2009 at 8:19AM
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