Refinishing an Oak Table?


I have an old oak table that is quite grubby and stained. I don't mind the stains too much, as they are reminders of my kids working, eating, and playing at that table. I would however, like to spruce it up a bit.

I thought of rubbing it back with a very fine sand paper, but my husband doesn't think that is a good idea. Would a fine steel wool be OK? (with or without soap/wet or dry?) Could I then use an oil to resurface it? What type would be best? I don't want to treat it so harshly that I need to varnish or use a full re-coat.

I'm not sure what the original surface would have been, but there is not much left. The table has a very heavy grain which has become very darkened. Thanks to anyone who can help.


By Elizabeth from Australia

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August 10, 20100 found this helpful

Fine steel wool works well but use gloves because it dries your skin terribly. Personally I would sand it down with an electric sander or the orange smelling stripper, Ive had good luck with that. Then add about three coats of poly on a day with low humidity. Let it sit for about two days before using. This is more intimidating than difficult, but if this is too much use the steel wool and oil it or maybe even use Old English. Good luck.

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August 11, 20100 found this helpful

I have cleaned some of my furniture with a microfiber cloth...just soak it in water and wring out all the excess. Takes a bit of scrubbing, but I think you'll be suprised how much dirt comes off.

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August 16, 20100 found this helpful

When Mum was restoring an old kitchen cabinet she used steel wool and metho - this might work on your table

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August 7, 2010

What is the best and easiest way to refinish a fairly new oak table?

By Diana from Temecula, CA


Refinishing an Oak Table

You can use a product called "Restor-a-finish".


It is available at most major paint departments. (11/16/2009)

By Cajun

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November 10, 2009

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


Refinishing an Oak Table

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)


Refinishing an Oak Table

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.
Stain the surface, if you wish. Proceed with a quality varnish; I like Min-wax products. Study the various products to find which will provide the surface you want. A nice, deep luster can be achieved with a Tung Oil. Follow directions, and you will be pleased. (08/25/2006)


By Grand pubah

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