How to Repair a Wood Dining Table

Written by mitzi saltsman
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How to Repair a Wood Dining Table
A restored and repaired dining room table is a beautiful addition to your home. (Dining room image by MAXFX from Fotolia.com)

A wooden dining room table is a great addition to your home. Whether made of new or old wood, it needs special care. Wood is a soft material that can easily be damaged. Water, time, a fall, or a runaway tricycle can all cause damage to your dining room table. Repairing damaged wood and strengthening a weakened dining room table will make it safe and more attractive for everyday use. Museum pieces from before the 16th century have been preserved and restored. Any dining room table can be repaired and made usable again.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Wood screws
  • Wood putty
  • 1-inch by 1-inch wood pieces
  • Paint remover
  • Furniture refinisher
  • 4-inch putty scraper
  • Sandpaper
  • Steel wool
  • Furniture finish

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Determine what needs to be repaired on the dining room table. Cosmetic needs are the most visible, but these should be addressed after the table is made safe for use.

  2. 2

    Turn the table over on its top side to determine what needs to be done to the legs. Each leg is attached at a corner of a square or rectangular table or to a centre brace under the top of a round table.

  3. 3

    Remove each table leg. Check the brackets that the legs were attached to for missing or broken pieces. A narrow 1-inch by 1-inch board can be cut to the same size as a broken bracket. Glue the piece with wood glue and screw it next to the old bracket for additional support. Use 2-inch screws that will reach through the new board and into the old wood.

  4. 4

    For cosmetic purposes, the legs can be refinished. Strip the old finish with a paint or finish remover made specifically for this purpose. For heavy layers of paint, a paint stripper will be needed; apply it and scrape the legs until you are down to the bare wood. Sand the legs and apply wood putty to any significant cracks or deep nicks and scratches. For a light refinishing, use a refinishing product that will cut through the old finish and give you a new finish, all in one step.

  5. 5

    Check the brackets where the legs are inserted for loose joints. Tighten the brackets with wood glue. Water can also be squirted into a loose joint with a syringe or turkey baster. The water will cause the wood in the loose joint to swell and tighten.

  6. 6

    Turn the table back to the upright position. The table top will need to be restored (a more major job) or refinished. To restore the top, strip away the layers of old paint with a commercial paint remover. Pour on a thick coat of the solution and let it sit for several minutes to soften the old paint. Scrape the old paint away with a 4-inch putty knife.

  7. 7

    Sand the top to its very smoothest using a fine .00 grit sandpaper with a palm sander first followed by a .0000 sandpaper to finish. Always sand in the direction of the wood grain. Fill cracks and holes with wood putty unless you want a more antique finish. Small dings and nicks or scratches will not hurt your table.

  8. 8

    Refinish a table top without paint with a refinishing product. This is not the same as paint remover and is called a furniture refinisher. This product will dissolve the old finish without the need for scraping or extra sanding. Apply the refinishing product with a .00 grit steel wool. Use the same product to wipe off the old finish with a clean rag.

  9. 9

    Rub tung oil into the table top for a natural looking protective finish. Tung oil will allow your table to "breathe." Apply a layer of polyurethane or shellac for a harder, more durable, and shinier finish.

Tips and warnings

  • Use adequate ventilation when using any refinishing products.
  • Do not work in direct sunlight with polyurethane. It will dry too fast and cause your brush to stick.

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