How to Refinish a Lacquer Table

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A lacquer finish creates a hard glossy coating on your wood tables, accentuating the look of the wood while protecting the wood surface for years. The finish can't last forever though. In time it wears thin, appearing dull and drab while allowing moisture to seep through, staining the surface of your table.

Refinishing the table can replace the protective cover, restoring the glossy appearance of your table at the same time to give your table a near-new appearance.

Place a dust sheet onto the floor beneath the table to catch any chemicals dropping from the tabletop. Put on a face mask to avoid breathing in harmful chemical fumes. Create a lacquer stripper to remove the existing lacquer on the table by combining denatured alcohol with an equal amount of lacquer thinner in a small bucket. Put on a pair of rubber gloves and then apply the mix to a small two-square section of the table surface with a paintbrush. Wait about a minute for the mix to penetrate the lacquer.

Remove the mixture as well as the lacquer by scrubbing the surface with a piece of No. 0000 steel wool. Work the steel wool in a back and forth motion, following the grain of the wood until you've removed all traces of lacquer from the table section's surface.

Continue to remove the lacquer working in sections until the entire surface of the table is cleared. Check for any remaining traces, and remove spots of lacquer not scrubbed away with the first pass by applying another small coating of the stripper to the spots with a cloth dampened in the liquid, waiting a minute then scrubbing the area a second time. Allow the table to dry overnight before continuing.

Sand the surface of the table with a piece of fine-grit sandpaper to smooth out any light scratches present. Wipe the table with a clean cloth to remove any dust after sanding.

Stain the table with a wood stain of your choice to add colour to the piece. Apply the stain with a paintbrush, working in overlapping rows across the table surface along the grain of the wood. Wipe excess stain from the table's surface with a piece of cloth, then wait overnight to allow the stain to dry.

Spray the lacquer onto the table in overlapping rows with the can held about 18 inches from the table surface. Use four thin layers of lacquer to build up the protective coat. Allow each coat to dry for 48 hours after spraying, and then use 320-grit sandpaper to smooth the surface of the lacquer, removing any imperfections from the spraying process. Remove any residue form the lacquer smoothing with a tack cloth.

Buff the lacquer to a satin sheen with No. 0000 steel wool. Wipe the surface of the lacquer with a cloth slightly dampened with paint thinner to remove any excess oil from the surface. Apply wax to the lacquered surface with a microfiber cloth, and then buff the wax to a gloss shine.