I need advice about my oak table top. I believe whatever it was finished with is wearing off and this is not an old table. Can I sand off this finish on top and refinish it? What is a recommended finish which is durable, yet still allows us to see the beauty of the wood? I have never done anything like this before, but I am handy.
Sandy from Stoughton, WI
I am an antique dealer and have restored several pieces of oak furniture, in England I hand sand with very, very fine sandpaper or steel wool, the mildest you can find. Then wipe the dust off with white spirit and let dry, then apply a liquid stain in your choice of colour then let it dry. Apply it to a dry cloth and use sweeping movements to completely colour the wood. Do not make the cloth too wet.
Then finally use about 2/3 individual coats of Briwax or clear wax. Rub them in one coat at a time with large sweeping gentle movements no scrubbing. This will give a glossy highly protective water proof coating which will withstand central heating, dry air, etc. But obviously use coasters to protect from hot black circle marks left from hot drinks. These are almost impossible to remove and white circle marks left by water which need to be removed by rubbing out with any oil are very very time consuming. (07/02/2006)
Time is usually of the essence, and a good remover for varnish can be found in any hardware store. If you can take the table outside and work with it there, I would recommend removers that are very caustic. Some of these run about $20-$30 per gallon, but gets the work done fast, taking off many layers at a time. Read the instructions and the work will go quick and beautifully. The cost is worth it since you save much time and aggravation. The drawback is that these have noxious fumes (and are volatile) and need a lot of ventilation. If working indoors, you can use products that are friendly to the environment (and to your skin and lungs); these work, but need attention to the details for best results.
Follow up with sanding or steel wool, moving to progressively finer abrasives.
Clean surface with a rag and mineral spirits (paint thinner) and/or a rag dampened with alcohol or water.
By Grand pubah
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