Over time, the lustre and sheen of wood dining tables can fade. This piece of furniture typically gets a lot of use, and it is all too easy for the finish to dull under these conditions. There are several reasons why a table loses its shine, including wax build-up as well as wearing away of the shellac or top coat over the wood. Other factors such as light exposure can also dull the finish of wood. In order to bring shine back to a dining table, a few steps must be taken.
Clean the wood with a no-wax cleaner. Quite often, the main reason a table looks dull is due to wax build-up from cleaners. Using a soft cloth, spray the cleaner onto the cloth first -- do not spray directly on the wood. Rub the cloth on the wood in small circles. You may need to use a little extra elbow grease if the build-up is thick. Allow this to dry and check back on the table in a day. If it is still dull, move on to the next step.
Oil the wood. Wood is porous, and even if it has been covered with polyurethane or a clear coat, it can dry out over time. This is particularly true in homes with central heating systems, or for tables that are exposed to daylight for several hours a day. Take a clean and dry cloth that is soft. Apply wood oil (orange oil works well) to the cloth and rub the oil into the wood. Allow this to soak in and sit for a day. If you notice some improvement, repeat this step until the lustre has been restored. If there is no improvement, move on to the next step.
Sand the table. If the above steps failed, your table will need to be refinished. Sand the surface and the legs with a medium-grade sandpaper to remove the old top coat and the current wood stain. It is not recommended to use a power sander since this can cut through the wood, particularly if it is soft. Take your time and make sure that all of the old finish is removed from the table. It is best to do this outside or in the garage if you can.
Restain the wood. Using a wood stain and a paintbrush, slowly brush the new stain onto the table. Work slowly and use several light coats. This is not something you want to glop on to the table. Catch and smooth out any drips that might appear. Allow each coat sufficient time to dry before proceeding. Once the table is the colour you want and is totally dry, proceed to the next step.
Apply a clear coat to the wood. Polyurethane or shellac should be applied on top of your wood stain. This will provide a high-gloss finish and help seal in the wood. Do not apply this top coat outside if it is windy -- the finish will be bubbly. Once again, work slowly and use only a thin coating. Smooth out any imperfections before the finish dries. You can apply several coats if you want your table to really shine. Allow this top coat to dry completely before bringing your table back inside.