Saturday, August 11, 2012

How to Strip and Refinish a Table Top

I love the look and feel of beautiful wood.  Sometimes the top of a piece has been worn or damaged over time.  It's easy to bring it back to life!  Today I thought I'd show you how I strip and refinish a table top.

I found some night stands at a flea market and knew I could bring new life to them.  I got so excited about getting started that I forgot to take a "before" shot.  But trust me, the tops needed help.

I like to use Citristrip on my furniture.  It's fairly low odor and very environmentally friendly.  I buy mine at Lowe's.  I buy the cheap chip brushes to apply it.  Don't use a foam brush!  The stripper will dissolve the foam.

Citristrip turns white when it's working.  Here I've applied my first coat of stripper.  I leave it until it's white all over.  I believe the bottle says you can leave it 30 min to 24 hours.  I don't think I've ever left it over an hour.

Next I grab my putty knife and some paper towels.  The bottle recommends that you use a plastic scraper so you don't damage the wood.  I don't have one, so I use my metal one.  Works fine for me.


I scrape in the direction of the wood.  You can see that as you scrape along, you'll collect "junk".  I wipe it off on a paper towel and toss it when I'm done.  The first coat may be tough.  You're cutting through the heavy lacquer or polyurethane finish.  Don't force it.  You'll get more off on the next application.

Here's what it looked like after I scraped off the first coat.
You can tell there are places where it came off better than others.


So I applied a second coat of stripper.

When it turns white I scrape again.  Notice it didn't turn white everywhere, just where there's still the clear protective finish.  You may have to do it several times to get down to the wood everywhere.  Make sure you apply the stripper to the entire top, even if you're just trying to get the last bit of finish.  That ensures the entire top has the same result.  It's important that you get ALL of the old finish off.  If you miss a spot, your new stain won't take in that spot.

Anyway, three coats later the top looks like this:

Beautiful, huh?  
Now don't skip this last step.  I used an old washcloth and rubbed the top with some mineral spirits.  That helps dissolve and remove any remnants of stripper.  Trust me.  I learned that one the hard way!  Finish it off with a thorough sanding with fine sand paper.

Now it's ready to stain!
You'll need to round up your supplies:  the stain of your choice, a brush (I use a foam one for staining), rubber gloves, and a soft rag.

Brush on a coat of stain along the grain line.  You want to leave it so it can soak in, but not too long.  You don't want it to dry on there!


Put on some rubber gloves.  This part is messy.  You'll want to wipe off the excess stain that hasn't soaked in to the wood.  This may take some elbow grease, depending on how long you've left the stain on.  Keep rubbing until the streaks and stickiness are gone.

This is how it looked when I finished.
SO worth the effort!


Tomorrow night I'll show you how I finished the rest of the piece.











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2 comments:

NanaDiana said...

Cyndi- That is a great tutorial. I have stripped so many pieces over the years and now I am starting to repaint some of them...lol xo Diana

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