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How to Refinish a Wooden End Table

Updated on July 12, 2015
Carol Reed profile image

Carol graduated from Indian Hills C.C. with an AAS in H.I.T and an AA in Arts & Science. A Social Media Booster for Wine Diamonds Film.

An amateur can refinish furniture.

A person doesn’t have to be a pro to give their furniture a facelift. Take it from someone that isn’t and that has. Throughout the years, I witnessed two end tables that my dad had stripped to the raw wood, travel through at least four moves, waiting for him to finish what he had started for my mother. The tables were in great need of being refinished and not in such bad shape that they couldn’t be restored. Time past on and so did my mom. The two tables still stood on the shelves in my father’s garage until the days after my dad’s funeral. Those same tables made their way to my domain, where anticipation of their future covered by spider webs increased. There was a time that I thought my son would pick up where my father lift-off. My sadness grew every day that I drove into my garage observing the same fate these tables would endure if I didn’t change their history.

From One Generation to Another

Finished product completed by an amateur.
Finished product completed by an amateur. | Source

Works for me.....

The outcome may not look profession and that can be acceptable. If you look close, one can find the flaws. Compared to the unfinished and abandoned furniture piece that lead a stagnant shelf life; this table can now be useful and enjoyed while the history advances.

The other one however will be treated differently but loved the same. No stain in its future. The size and shape gives the table a unique charm. This one will have a chalky facelift for a beachy appearance that will complement the accessories the end table will be surrounded by.

"Don't put off until tomorrow what you can do today.”

— Ben Franklin

Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today.

— Thomas Jefferson

Either way, it means the same to me.

Do you know who really gets credit for this quote?

Sand, Stain and then Polyurethane

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Dad SandedStain Polyurethane
Dad Sanded
Dad Sanded | Source
Stain | Source
Polyurethane | Source


1. Make sure the work area is well ventilated. Work under good lighting. Us protective gear: gloves (stain and Polyurethane) mask (sander)

2. Clean off table: Wipe off cobwebs, protect the area your table will sit on by covering it with newspapers, old sheets or plastic, etc.

3. Sand (fine – grade sandpaper. Move sander or sandpaper in same direction as the grain. Be careful not to damage the wood.) I have used a paint or varnish removal (stripping wood) before but in this case, my dad had already had taken care of this problem for me by using a sander.

4. Make sure all sand residue is off.


Pick your gloves; rubber, latex or other is better than none.
Pick your gloves; rubber, latex or other is better than none. | Source


  1. Fill in any cracks or scratches with wood putty. (Follow directions on the container.)

  2. Stain (There are several different colors of stain to select from. Follow the directions on the can.) One coat may be good enough. I applied one coat, waited a day or two before adding the second coat. I used a foam brush.


  1. Allow stain to dry before adding Polyurethane. (This is a protector for the table and gives the wood a nice shine.) I used a foam brush.

    * If this gets on your hands, it's very sticky and hard to remove.

Preventative Actions

Safety Glasses
Nose & Mouth
Sanding, Stain & Polyurethane
"It's Better to Be Safe Than Sorry."

I didn't use the Pre-Stain (Conditioner)


Cast your vote for MINWAX Stain

Refurbished or not that is the question?

How do you rate when it comes to refurbished furniture?

See results

Refinished Round Bar Tables

These were my second out of three different times in my life of refinishing wood. The only thing hard about this project is the wood.
These were my second out of three different times in my life of refinishing wood. The only thing hard about this project is the wood. | Source

Please, leave a comment. Thank you.

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    • Carol Reed profile image

      Carol Clarke Reed 2 years ago from Remote

      Thank you, WiccanSage.

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 2 years ago

      Nice job, that's great!