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How to sand an oak dining table

Updated February 21, 2017

Oak is a warm, golden-hued hardwood, prized for its beautiful grain pattern and valued for its durability. If you're refinishing an oak dining table, after you've stripped away the protective coating, you'll need to sand the table to remove any bits of residual coating and to smooth the wood grain. Sanding down an oak table can be a time-consuming task, but it's a vital step in the refinishing process.

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  1. Prep the table for sanding by applying a quality stripping solution to remove the old furniture coating.

  2. Sand the oak tabletop with a medium-grit foam sanding block, using a light back-and-forth motion in the same direction as the wood grain. For example, 120-grit is a medium grit.

  3. Smooth the top edge of the table by sanding it with the foam block, rounding the block to fit the contour of the edge. You will still sand with the direction of the grain, but as you near the edge of the table, push the foam block down and over the edge.

  4. Turn the table upside down and place it on an old blanket. It's easier to sand the underside of the table this way.

  5. Use the foam sanding block or folded sanding paper on the underside of the table and on the legs.

  6. Fold sandpaper around a ruler, and use the edge of the ruler to sand in the crevices on the table legs.

  7. Switch to a fine-grit (220-grit) foam sanding block or sandpaper after you've sanded away all traces of the old finish and the oak is smooth to the touch. Resand the entire table in the same manner as you did with the medium-grit block.

  8. Apply a sanding sealer, if desired, to the bare wood and let it dry completely. A sanding sealer primes the oak grain for even stain absorption.

  9. Sand the entire table lightly with a very-fine-grit sandpaper, approximately 400-grit, and your table is ready to stain and finish.

  10. Tip

    Wrap sandpaper around a wood block for easier handling.


    Do not use a power sander on oak furniture. It can quickly sand away more grain than you wish.

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Things You'll Need

  • Medium-grit sandpaper
  • Fine-grit sandpaper
  • Very-fine-grit sandpaper
  • Foam sanding blocks (various grits)
  • Sanding sealer (recommended)
  • Old blanket
  • Ruler

About the Author

Glenda Taylor

Glenda Taylor is a contractor and a full-time writer specializing in construction writing. She also enjoys writing business and finance, food and drink and pet-related articles. Her education includes marketing and a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas.

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