Advice appreciated strip - stain - paint table

qmarkerMay 25, 2011

Hello, I have offered to do a favor for an older lady friend of mine. She is fixing up her kitchen to make her happy. She had her oak cupboards stripped and stained professionally. It is a very small kitchen and she has a very old small drop leaf table she would like refinished. The same stripper wants five hundred just to strip the table ready for refinishing. She cannot afford that much and doesn't know how she would finish it either. I have done 'tons' of refinishing in my day but not for several years. However, I did offer to do this for her and I would appreciate your advice.

The table is certainly an antique, given to her by her aunt many, many years ago. It is rectangle drop leaf with turned legs. I would 'guess' it is oak? She wants the table top to be sort of a pecan color and the legs painted black. I think that's a shame but so be it to please her. She just purchased 2 new chairs with black legs and black slatted backs with stained seats and she wants the table to match them.

I will use a MC stripper outside (I'd appreciate brand name recommendation)

I will clean & sand as necessary

I will stain the top & leaves (I like Minwax products)

I will varnish, steel wool & re-varnish (poly)

Is two coats of poly enough for a table?

Does the underside get a coat of poly or just stain?

Now, what do I do to correctly make the legs black? Do they need primer and then just a good black paint? Or don't they get primer at all?

After the legs are painted, do they get a coat of poly?

Is there any special brand or kind of paint I should look for?

Sorry, I do not yet have a picture of the table. I will get one shortly if it helps.

Thank you, Donna

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Non toxic 'orange' strippers don't work as well as the other types(chemical) as a rule. But, they do work and are less dangerous. Last time I used a stripper, I bought a can of each at Home Depot. Both failed to strip the five layers of paint on a cheap dressing table. They managed the first two layers and parts of the third before I decided the piece was not worth the expense/time.

If the wood is oak(or mahogany/ash or similar open grained wood) you will not be able to get the old stain/finish out of the depressions in the wood. That will impact the stain/finish you do later. And, in the case of the table being veneered, you will sand through the veneer at one place or another. Which ruins the look.

However, reveneering is fairly easy for that type table. You might be able to find a woodworker or cabinet shop that could do that for a small fee.

All surfaces get finished, top/bottom/edges.

Poly will be difficult to repair if the table finish gets damaged. Poly does not spot repair well. Regular varnish would be better in that area.

A good gloss paint over primer for the legs. You could even use rattle can spray paint.

    Bookmark   May 26, 2011 at 10:18AM
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I have picked up the table and dismantled it. I have looked at the new chairs and the legs are stained not painted black. On the bottom of the chair it says Chestnut/Expresso.

Now, I am including a link because I am not sure what would look the best for the base of the table. Should I do the entire base in black and the top only of the drop leaves and table in Chestnut or does the bottom base get part Chestnut and the legs only in Expresso?

I am not sure what the wood is but I think it is all Maple. I have gone to Sherwin Williams and they tell me to bring a chair and a piece of the drop leaf table and they will match stain for me.

How would you do the base of the table is my question.

Thanks, Donna - Please see link to pictures

Here is a link that might be useful: MK Table Refinish

    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 9:43AM
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How would I do the base? I'd take off the top and do the legs and aprons in the same color and the top to match the chair seats.

General Finishes makes a nice Espresso stain. I find it lacks some undertones, so I normally apply a red or brown dye before using it. It's water borne, that you can use under oil-based finish as long as you give it plenty of dry time. It also has a short open time, so you need to work quickly. This should not be a problem on your table base.

Q: Do you need to do the underside of the table?
A: Not as long as it's securely fastened to the apron. You can certainly add a coat of finish if you want (I'd use shellac as it's quick, easy, doesn't smell, and has excellent water vapor protection.) Or a quick coat of whatever you're using elsewhere. You can also use the underside to run some finish trials for color match. I'll bet the original factory finish did not do the underside.

Q: After the legs are painted, do they get a coat of poly?
Is there any special brand or kind of paint I should look for?
A: No, there is no need to apply poly over paint. If you are going with paint, I'd suggest an oil-based paint over a latex. The idea of an aerosol for this small an application is a good idea. (This assumes you are still going to paint, if you are backing up and staining, then disregard)

Q: I am not sure what the wood is but I think it is all Maple
A: Probably maple, maybe birch. Definitely not oak.

Q: Chestnut?
A: Names of stains are simply a representation of what the marketing department wants to call a formulation. If S-W thinks they can match it, go for it. Test underneath, complete with top coats.

While poly is difficult to repair (I professionally repair furniture), I don't have an objection to using it for a dining table top that will see a lot of wear. A good choice is GF's Arm-R-Seal that is a wipe-on poly that builds well. Wipe on finishes are about as fool proof as you can get as long as you don't get a heavy hand with the thickness of application.

(Disclosure: Despite the above, I have no association with General Finishes)

    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 3:34PM
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Thanks BMU, I will take your advice on much of this. Yep, I am going to back up and stain the legs with some sort of Espresso like the chairs.

I am a bit disheartened right now trying desperately to get the old finish(s) off of the legs that are turned. I now realize that this table was touched up after the original and not a very good job at that. Some places are hugely built up gook and the underside is raw in the table top center but the drop leaves are literally full of drips and runny old dried stain. I am stripping the bottom of the leaves and will do them better than the runny mess they are. I will use the center of the table for trial stain Although the underside center of the table is nearly 'white' whereas what I am stripping clean has a reddish tint to the wood. I am not sure if sanding will remove the redish hue or not.

I am going to go and get a brush and see if it works better for the turned legs ??? I am also using two coats of stripper. The first one just takes globs of sludge and dries very fast. I am using an MC stripper.

The table top is actually two pieces of wood that were apparently glued in the dead center at one time and I see that on one end the glue was gone and the boards do not sit flush. I have no clue how to try to stick them back together but I have my thinking cap on. I am afraid to try to stick glue in there for fear of getting it on the table top and it would stain differently ?? What do you think of a small piece of wood on the underside glued board to board and clamped while drying?

I have used Poly wipe on my tables and will take that advice at the end. It is a pretty table and I'm sure at one time it was a treasure but it certainly has seen its years of service and there are dents and there is three very bad liquid marks that I doubt if I can get to stain evenly.

I sure appreciate your time. I want this to look pretty for her. It is an elderly couple and they have a tiny kitchen and this table is perfect for the space. I am thinking that I have to stop trying to make it look as smooth as the chair which is brand new.


    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 5:10PM
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I just realized this is a bit ambiguous:
> I'd suggest an oil-based paint over a latex.

I mean _instead of_ not layered over.

    Bookmark   June 5, 2011 at 10:08PM
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