Where to start on Wood Table redo

lindatAugust 20, 2009

I would like to refinish our daughter's antique walnut dining table. THere is not finish left, the stain is very dark, with dark ring stains-water marks? So where do I start?

Wipe with Mineral spirits?

THen Wipe with denatured alchol?

Will that take care of the rings?

At what point do I use the stain? we're thinking an oak stain?

Would a product like restor a finish work instead?

I will look forward to here from you all.


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What exactly is your end goal? Did you have a finish in mind?

If the "finish" (regardless of exactly what makes up that finish) is "very dark" now, it's not going to get any lighter unless you strip/sand the old finish.

I'd certainly start with giving it a good cleaning. Maybe some TSP and/or mineral spirits to remove any grime.

    Bookmark   August 20, 2009 at 3:00PM
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Oh sorry
Our dd and ds n l use this as a dining table. It is a major item in their home and used for eating, children "activity", ect. THey like the darker finish. THough I do not want to do too dark of finish-
Do you think I need to "strip" that old dark off-there is no "protective" finish on this poor thing. Is that what I need to do to even out the dark ?

    Bookmark   August 20, 2009 at 3:13PM
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If you can, it might be best to post some pictures of your table so we can see what's going on.

Generally if you want to "even out" the color you'd use a stain that approximates the existing color. In the end, you will end up with a table that's as dark or slightly darker than you have now. If you want it lighter you need to strip the existing finish by sanding or with a chemical stripper.

After you have to color to your liking a polyurethane or varnish topcoat will provide the most protection. I've had good luck with General Finishes products.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2009 at 10:57AM
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I don't have any disagreements with the above posts.

To add a couple of points:

- "Oak stain" is not very descriptive; it is whatever the finish chemist / designer wants it to be. Most brands "Golden Oak" means a light brown with lots of yellow. But this is no means
a) true for all brands
b) the same for all base woods, which impart their own color.

- I have tried Restor-a-finish a few times and have been generally unimpressed with it. While it could remove the water rings (if that is what they are), otherwise it is a temporary solution, putting lipstick on the pig. In a few weeks, it won't look much different. My impression is that it is for the low-end antique dealer who wants deluxe a piece to move it off the floor. When a customer buys it and comes back in a couple of months saying it does not look so good any more, they will sell them a can of the stuff.

I am also skeptical of manufacturers who hide behind "trade secret" designation and don't tell you what is in their product, or even worse, intentionally mis-represent them. I am a big boy. If you tell me what your product is, I know how it works, when to use it, and when it won't work. And it's not like any junior-level college chemistry student couldn't reverse engineer it. Given the right tests to perform and how to do it, I probably could have decoded it in my freshman chemistry class.

I once asked an expert if he could write an article on this product and his response was, "I'm not sure I would find anything good to say about it."

    Bookmark   August 22, 2009 at 11:41AM
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This is a light colored second hand desk with maple leaf (old?) drawer pulls. I would like to make it dark,to match the surrounding furniture.It has a bad cigarette burn on the top.Is it a mistake to make it dark? it looks like light oak or pine.

    Bookmark   July 5, 2011 at 6:08PM
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