For years we had this old black veneered side table, we have wanted to refinish. It’s was just an old table we picked up out of an abandoned lot, and we absolutely loved it because it was functional.

The actual table top was solid oak but the finish, not so great. It has been through years of wear and tear, and neglect. The black veneer had started to chip off, the top was all scratched up and it no longer fit into our renovations. So, refinishing this table made to most sense.

I wanted to get it done this summer, and we had a couple of low-key weekends recently, so we went on and knocked it out. And let me tell you…it wasn’t nearly as daunting of a project as I thought it would be!

First step is to take off any paint or finish using an orbital sander and a course grit sanding disk.

Second, using a small flat putty knife, slide it between the veneer and the table and ply off the thin veneer. In our case, it was so old that the glue was not doing much to hold it and large sections came off with very little force. However, smaller tighter section consisting of curves took more time and patience.

Once all the veneer is off, sweep away any debris, use a lightly damp cloth to remove any remaining residue and then allow to dry for a few minutes.

We used this orbital sander and a 120-grit disk to expose the actual wood. I wouldn’t say it took terribly long to take our finish off…maybe 2 hours total, but it was also very worn already.

After sanding well, you want to be able to look at the wood at any angle and see no stain or paint finish. There shouldn’t be glow or remains of paint on the wood, no matter how you hold it.

Now it’s times to fine sand. We used 220-grit sandpaper wrapped around a sanding block, doing it by hand wasn’t that difficult. Once this step is done, you should be able to run your hand over the piece and not feel the grain of the wood…it should be almost perfectly smooth.

We chose not to disassembled the entire table, instead we just took our time, removed all the veneer and sanded it all back down as one complete unit.

We then stained.

The stain we used for the tabletop was Minwax. This is an oil-based stain, so keep in mind that it’s going to need to be done in a well-ventilated area and won’t come out of clothes easily. The half-pint can should be more than enough for a table.

Apply the first coat with the grain of the wood, using very light strokes. We used an inexpensive foam brush to apply the stain…that way, it could just be thrown away after the project was over. Use the smallest amount you can to cover the wood. If it’s too light, you can always apply more later.

Allow the first coat of stain to dry for a couple of hours, and reapply in thin coats as needed. You’ll notice that the stain dries much lighter than it looks when first applied, so don’t freak out if it looks super dark when you put the first coat on! I had to do 3 coats of stain to achieve the depth I wanted on my tabletop.

Once your final coat of stain is on, allow it to dry for 24 hours before moving on.

Once you achieve the depth you want in your stain, apply a polyurethane to seal it. You’ll want something that’s going to protect the finish and be super easy to clean.

Don’t be surprised if you have to apply more coats of the polyurethane than expected…especially for a high-traffic table, you’ll want to put on a few.

Now, for the face of the table, we used braided rope. Using an electric staple gun, we stapled one end of the rope at a starting point and used a strong adhesive to glue it to the table. We divided the table into four points and at each point as we went around, we fastened with another staple. It was easiest to walk around the table, rather than turning the table. We also found that it was best to start at the top and work down. Once you’re at the end and your end point is in contact with the braided rope which is securely already attached, cut, glue, tuck and staple in place. There you have it.

And just like that, with just a day or two of work, I had the gorgeous seaside farmhouse table.

Gorgeous seaside farmhouse table DIY by Lance Casey, New London CT


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