Remember this table?


Some of you asked me the story behind it when I mentioned that I’d like to refinish it. We actually bought it at our church’s yard sale when Abe was two years old. We hadn’t been in Montgomery very long and I bought it to use as a school table as I was planning to do at least pre-school at home with Abe. It had $40 on it but it didn’t sell. At the end of the yard sale they let me take it home for $20. The couple that donated it were members of our church. The husband passed away a few years later. He and Kenny were close and so the table became very special to us as it reminded us of dear friends. It is one of very few pieces of furniture we decided to load on to the moving van to New York. I was tempted to get rid of it due to it’s condition. I never really took care of it. It was used as a kid table for ten years and that fact was painfully obvious. But Kenny couldn’t bear to part with it. I thought maybe one day if we had the money we could take it somewhere and have it re-done. In the mean time I just put a big doilie on it. Doilie’s cover many sins. 🙂

As you may have guessed, I got on a major DIY kick when I got to New York. I’m not sure what did it. Maybe painting my bedroom back in Alabama right before we moved. Or maybe that I started watching as many HGTV shows online that I had time to watch!

I decided I could do something to make our sad table feel a little better. It couldn’t be that hard as I really only needed to refinish the top. I knew it wouldn’t be perfect but anything would be better than the way it was.


I ran into problems at the very beginning of the project. In my lifetime, I’ve sanded one thing — the little yellow dresser. It was so easy to sand. Just swish swish swish and I was pretty much done. It was all raw wood after all. I thought the table couldn’t be much harder as obviously the existing finish was worn away.

I was wrong.

I sanded and sanded with my sandpaper. I used 220 grit because that’s what I had. I sanded until the sandpaper became hot and nearly burned my hand. The table didn’t look much different. I voiced my frustration to my better half who took over for me for a while. He sanded my more efficiently than I did but to no avail. The little table still clung to it’s finish and none of the ugly circles or stray pen marks sanded away.

Clearly I needed to invest in some power tools.

I knew exactly what I wanted. I had bought the How to Paint Furniture Guide from Altard Furniture and had read it several times. I had even looked at the power sander they recommended at Home Depot on several occasions. But to spend $30 on a power sander I might only use on one project? That didn’t seem very Davy Ramsey.

Then I had this crafty idea that men like to get power tools for Father’s Day. he he he I almost did it. Almost. But Kenny would have been about as excited about getting a power sander for Father’s Day as I would be to get a toaster for Mother’s Day. So I waited a bit longer. Finally Kenny said he wouldn’t mind owning one and it would get occasional use even if I never used it again. He even went and picked it up for me. I was so excited! I got everything ready to start and discovered that he’d picked up a battery operated model and the rechargeable battery was not included. Argh! I would’ve done that same thing. I didn’t realize there were two options!

So I waited some more until errand day came around and I could exchange it. Then I got nervous and I put the project off. I’d never used a power tool before. What if I sanded off my thumb or something? What if chunks of wood flew off into somebody’s eye?

Finally we had a free Saturday and Kenny agreed to help me out. He’d never used a power sander, either, but he’d taught himself how to use other power tools when he needed them and doesn’t have the girl phobias I have. I’m so blessed to have him around! He’s a great handyman when he wants to be. I-m-in-love

Finally we got it sanded. Sanding was fun.

I then coated it with wood conditioner so it would take the stain evenly. Oh. And before all the sanding began, I repaired a small gouge in the wood on the edge of the table. Remind me next time to get wood putty tinted the color of my stain. 😉 I bought stainable filler but it didn’t stain very well. Luckily, it’s a very small spot and not noticeable.


You see the two tone color on the table top? I was really worried about that. I did a lot of online research but was still nervous about the outcome. I tried the frog tape all the DIY blogs were talking about and carefully taped off two sections.


Then I was ready to stain! I chose Minwax clear tint base in Harvest and Latte.


When I finished it looked absolutely TERRIBLE!!!


I was so disappointed. The Latte stain wasn’t even like stain. It didn’t work at all. I loved the Harvest color, though, so I decided to sand it all down again and start over using the Harvest on the whole tabletop. Hey. At least I got to play with the power sander again.

I tried using a plastic guide to help me stay color in the lines but it didn’t help much. The stain still bled across. I’m thinking it was because it was stain and not paint.


It didn’t matter too much this time, though, since I was using the same stain color on the whole piece. I stained twice and then put three coats of polyurethane. The last step was to buff it with the buffing tool that came with the sander. It seemed to take me forever!! I waited at least a day between steps and sometimes several days depending on my schedule. I also lightly sanded between coats of poly.

It’s interested to use stain. It goes on like paint…


But then you wait a few minutes and wipe most of it off.


Here is the finished product. You can still see the two tone color although it isn’t nearly as obvious as it appears in this picture.


I polished the legs so the whole table would look good as new.


It isn’t perfect. It was really hard to get the poly just right dealing with a tabletop in four sections. I can see brush marks if I look closely. But I achieved my goal. It looks WAY better than it did before.

Here’s how it looks in the great room (although, since I took these pictures Abe and I have completely rearranged the great room again!):



Whew! That was a long post. I guess it’s fitting as it was a very involved job! Next up on the DIY front I’ll talk about Abe’s foot stool project. That one has been a bit involved as well! Stay tuned.

*The link to Altar’d furniture in this post is an affiliate link. Although I am not paid to promote them I will receive a percentage of the profit if you purchase one of their e-books.

This post is linked up to:

TDC Before and After

and Not Just a Housewife’s Show Me What Ya Got party.