Refinished High Gloss Coffee Table

Refinished High Gloss Coffee Table

What goes around, comes around.  That saying rings true for me in the case of this coffee table that once was red, then not red, then red again.

My very first DIY project involved stripping this very coffee table of it’s red colored paint.  (I don’t have a picture of it back then, but it was RED.)  That was over six years ago (pre-blog).  Since removing the original red paint, this coffee table has been everything from a Hot Wheelz racing surface, to a surface to paint things on.  It was time for a new life.

wood coffee table

Hot Wheelz aren’t always kind to the surfaces they drive on.  Rather than spend eternity trying to sand out all the dings and dents in the table top, I used my RYOBI portable hand planer to shave off a few thin layers.  I only set it to 1/48, so it took several passes to remove enough surface to eliminate the scratches altogether.  (I removed the table top from the base/legs to do this.)

plane table top

Here’s a closer look:

how to plane a table top

And because I didn’t have an extra set of hands to take a photo while I was actually using the planer… here’s a pic of the planer itself.  (I’m very fond of this tool by the way.  Suddenly, everything around me needs to be planed.)

ryobi planer

Next, I sanded it smooth with 220 grit (and stopped to take a photo).

sanding table surface

For some reason, I felt the need to throw caution to the wind and contradict the dainty legs on this piece of furniture, so I beefed up the top by nailing a box frame around the edges.  (1″ x 2″ boards.)

You’ll notice the legs are red already, because I painted the base before beginning the table top.  I just set the top on the base/legs for scale reference in this photo.

modified coffee table

After nailing the 1 x 2″ boards onto the edges, I sanded any uneven ridges.

diy coffee table

I need to preface the next step by stating that this table was going to be given to my mother in law, and she is a big fan of  Swiss-inspired things.  (Her parents immigrated from Switzerland, and the force is strong with this one.)   I decided to go all the way and make a statement here, as a tribute to her heritage.


To create a Swiss flag plus sign, I taped some paper together (very professional) and traced it onto the exact center of the table top.

trace onto wood

Next, I used this wood burning tool to carve the line that I traced, into the wood.

dremel wood burning

No turning back now…

dremel versa tip

This created a groove that I relied on later.

wood burning tool

Using said burn groove as a guide, I used painter’s tape to guard my plus sign against any stray (red) paint.

painter's tape

After priming and painting with red, I pulled off the tape and painted the plus sign white.

I didn’t use tape when painting the plus sign white.  I just used a tiny brush and went extremely slow with it.   Annnnd,  I used a tiny paintbrush because all my normal sized ones sit soaking in a big cup of water in my sink.  (I just want self cleaning paint brushes, that’s all.)

swiss inspired furniture

When the white paint on the plus sign was dry, I used some folded-up sandpaper to deepen the groove in a very sophisticated and efficient manner.

custom table design

Next, I sprayed the table legs with Minwax Polyurethane in the aerosol spray can (gloss).

(Polyurethane in the spray can, works better for curved surfaces.)

polyurethane gloss

For the table top, I applied Minwax Polyurethane (gloss) with a brush.

NOTE:  I did NOT apply it over the white plus sign, because an oil-based clear coat will cause yellowing to occur on light colored paint/wood.  For the white plus sign, I used Minwax Polycrylic as a clear top coat.  It is water-based, and will not cause yellowing.

minwax poly gloss

After 24 hours, the coffee table was dry enough to transport to my mother-in-law’s home.

red coffee table

I am happy to report that it was well received, and seems to fit right in.

diy coffee table red high gloss

Thanks for reading!  Here’s another one of my swiss inspired projects.

Swiss Inspired Table


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