outdoor table before

Furniture Refinishing Tutorials | Wood Table

Leaving something exposed to the elements isn’t always bad…

I mean, sometimes, it makes my job easier.

Case in point:  My friend, Amy’s, table with matching benches.

Sure, this rustic dining set saw some sun and rain.  It also felt the blazing heat of Utah summers, and the frigid cold of the Utah winters.

But, just because it served my friend well on her patio, didn’t mean it couldn’t be an indoor table too.

Actually, the weather helped weaken the paint job that I was about to remove.


outdoor table before

There are a few things that exhaust me when I think about them.  One being paint stripper.  Oh, don’t get me wrong…  the stuff works great in certain situations.

The part about paint stripper I hate is the leftover goop and residue (see, I’m getting tired now as I type).  The goop.  The slime.

It gums up on all my scraping tools and I go through a million baby wipes when I am using it.

Sure, I’ll use mineral spirits, or the “paint stripping residue remover”, but it’s just another step and my sandpaper still gums up.


Bench before

That’s when I’m grateful for projects that have a weakened paint job due to the elements.

I can skip the chemical stripping part and jump right in.

First thing’s first.  I look to see if I can take it apart

(this might be due to the fact that I am a compulsive taker-aparter.  For details on that, see the about me page.)

The flatter, the better.

Bench take apart

If you choose to take furniture apart to refinish it, make sure you label what goes where.  Over time furniture joints settle in, and get comfortable.

They take on their own quirks, and nobody wants to be the guy with the wobbly table.

Bench take apart label

Let the sanding, begin!

I went back and forth between a belt sander with 80 & 100 grit, to an orbital 80 & 100 grit.

Frankly, I get tired of the same motion and vibrations, so I switch it up.

Orbital sander

I even used my Dremel Multi-Max on the curvy parts, in corners, and along edges.

Dremel Multi-Max 1

Dremel Multi-Max 2

I didn’t get all of the old finish off the base of the table/benches.


Because my back hurt, and it was gonna rain… again.

No, I’m kidding!

Really though, at one point these pieces were stained a red picnic table color,

and I felt it would enhance the look.  (And yes, save me some time too.  But that was just coincidental.)

Table stripped 1

I didn’t sand out every single notch or scratch, either.  Character, blah blah…

Table stripped completelyTable stripped 3

I used wood filler on some of the cracks that looked like they would harbor crumbs.

Wood filler

Now, a little Pre-Stain to help the new stain take evenly (gotta love pine).

Pre-stain 1

Pre-stain 2

When the pre-stain was dry (about 20 min), I applied a dark walnut oil-based stain.

Wiped stain off as I applied.  ~stain on….stain off~  (Pine is a soaker-upper)

Stain 1

Because I’m super impatient, I only waited about an hour after that to do a coat of weathered oak (grey) stain over the dark walnut.

Stain 2

And just because I couldn’t resist, I distressed along the seams with steel wool.

Steel wool

The home-stretch.  I applied about 7 coats of Wipe-On Polyurethane (satin finish) to the table top,

4 coats to the bench seats, and some finishing wax to the bases.

(This was the hardest part for me.  I had to be patient.

You can’t rush dry times with polyurethane.  And yes, I really did that many coats.)



After the emotional bonding that happened between this table and I, the end was drawing near.

In case you’re wondering…..

moving a project from my back patio, to the driveway,

to finally the garage several times, can bring a table and human closer together.


Table driveway

Table garage

I was finally done.

Minwax Finished Table

After the polyurethane cured for a few more days,

I loaded up one bench on my trusty dolly, and walked it around the corner and down the street to my friend’s house.

I left it by her garage and walked the dolly back to do the same with the other bench.  By the time I came back for the table,

(yes I had wondered if I was gonna get away with it..),

my husband came out to help the crazy woman trying to deliver all three pieces herself.

After we got all three pieces in her house, it looked like that was exactly where they belonged.

My friend was happy, I was happy, my husband was happy… I’m pretty sure random passerby’s were happy (cause they smiled and waved)…..

In closing…

I’ll let you in on why I like “rustic” furniture.

Did I pull out that randomly placed nail found in the seat of one of the benches?

No.  I didn’t because when I’m working, my mind wanders.  I don’t know who put that nail there.

What if it was Amy’s dad that did it?

What if  he had a reason for it a long time ago, and wouldn’t it be cool if he saw it the next time he was over at her house?

Maybe he would smile….

Orwhat if it was one of her boys who nailed a corner of a blanket down while making a blanket fort?

He can remember that each time he sees it, with each passing year.

Memory anchored.  Check.  

Nail in bench

My point is

A project like this can be one that evolves as you go along.

Change it up as you go, let it tell you it’s story, and above all, look for potential in things every day.

Refinished Table Before and After

Stained Table Finished After Picture

Weathered Table Refinished Minwax

This look was achieved with Minwax!

Minwax Stain for Table


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