How to refurbish old wooden tables

Written by eric mack
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There are a variety of ways to refurbish old wooden tables, from complete repair to superficial fix-ups. Depending on your needs, here are some steps to getting that old table looking like new.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Sander or chemical stripper
  • Wood glue
  • Varnish or paint
  • Vinegar
  • Steel cloth
  • Clamp
  • Wood cleaner
  • Wood filler
  • Putty knife

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  1. 1

    If your table has any wobbly legs, you will probably want to fix those first. Most likely the leg needs to be reglued. First remove the old glue with sandpaper, steel wool or vinegar. Then reglue it with wood glue and apply a clamp while it dries.

  2. 2

    If you think the table needs no more than a good cleaning or would at least like to try that first, get a good wood cleaner appropriate to the current finish of the table or one that is for all finishes and clean the wood as instructed. If this works, that may be all you need to do to restore the original look of the table.

  3. 3

    If cleaning just won't cut it, you will want to remove the old finish of the wood table. This can be done by sanding it down or using a chemical stripper in the case of a heavy-duty finish.

  4. 4

    If you have any holes in the wood, you will need a filler to fill the holes up. Apply with a putty knife and then wait for the filler to dry. Once it is dry, you can sand it down to match the wood.

  5. 5

    Now, determine what kind of finish you want for the wood. A varnish would work well if the table has a beautiful natural wood grain that you like the look of. Paint is a more contemporary look and is also a good cover-up for tables with significant flaws that need hiding. If you use paint, you will need to prime it first.

Tips and warnings

  • One of the easiest and safest ways to clean up old furniture is with oil soap--a mild soap that won't damage the wood finish. You can also use a mix of three parts white spirit to one part boiled linseed oil.
  • Have a professional look at your piece first before refinishing if you think there might be a chance it is an antique. It may be worth more as is.

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