How to Sand and Refinish a Table at Home?

Table sanding and repolishing

You don’t have to be a master woodworker to sand and repolish a table. Any DIY handyman can even apply a new finish to this furniture staple. While it may look hard and time consuming, it’s actually a straightforward job to bring some new life to a table at home. Although you may need to do things a little differently, depending on the type of wood you’re working with, we’ve put together a simple DIY guide below for you.

Get your equipment!

First things first, get everything you need ready. You’ll need the following:

  • Paint stripper
  • Paint brushes
  • Paint scraper
  • Sandpaper
  • Wood stain
  • Rags or cloths
  • Rubber gloves
  • Safety mask
  • Polyurethane
Table sanding and repolishing tools

Once you’ve got everything you need, you need to move your table to a clear space where you can work. Lay down drop sheets if you want to avoid staining or marking the floor.

When you’re ready, follow these steps.

Clean the table

To get things started right, you need to clean the table. You want to get rid of any dirt, oil and grease. You can do this by using a damp cloth.

If you skip this step, those particles can make it harder to get a smooth surface in the next step.

Sand the surface

While sanding, use a coarse grit sandpaper (60–100 grit) to remove any existing varnish from the table. An orbital sander can be perfect for this task, but you can do it by hand too.

Sand the sides and top of the table. Make sure to replace the sandpaper whenever it becomes worn.

You may like to wear a safety mask for this bit, so you don’t inhale the wood particles.

Clean the table again

Sanding is a messy job, so you’ll need to clean the table once more. Use a brush to sweep the dust away.

It can be helpful to stop sanding every now and again and sweep to make sure you evenly sand every part of the table.

Sand again

After some swift sweeping, you’ll probably find you need to do another round of coarse grit sanding. Don’t forget to clean as you need to and replace the sandpaper when it gets too worn.

Sand with a finer grit

When the varnish has been removed, you can use a finer grit sandpaper (220–240 grit) to further smooth the surface.

Keep brushing away the dust as you need to.

Wipe the table with turps

Remove all dust from the table when you’ve got the table smooth. Put some turpentine on a cloth and wipe this over the table. This will pick up any leftover dust.

Make sure to wear your safety mask and gloves while working with turpentine.

Apply the first coat of varnish

When table has dried, it’s time to apply the first coat of varnish. Keep your safety mask and gloves on.

Before applying the varnish, make sure to stir it well so that there are no lumps.

Use a paint brush to apply the varnish. Make sure you go with the grain.

Your varnish coat should be smooth. Check along edges and around joints as varnish can quickly build up here. Smooth out any uneven areas using your paintbrush.

Gently sand the table

Let the varnish dry – check any packaging for information on how long this make take.

When the varnish has dried, use a fine grit sandpaper to gently scrub the surface. You should get a glossy finish.

Remove any dust.

Apply the second coat of varnish

Stir the varnish again before applying the second coat.

Remember to follow the wood grain.

Apply polyurethane coat

Let the varnish dry once more.

You can now apply the polyurethane coat. This protects the wood. Some people like to use wax or Tung oil, but polyurethane is commonly used for protecting wood against wear and tear and water damage.

Once the polyurethane coat is dry, the job is done. You should now have a freshly restored wooden table.

Why DIY?

While you could have a professional complete table sanding and repolishing task, doing your own refurbishing work at home can be incredibly satisfying. You can also save money doing it. And once you know this skill, you can refurbish other wooden pieces of furniture in your house.

The task shouldn’t take you more than a day and you can have a custom piece of furniture at the end of it. You can then enjoy your revitalized wooden table as you wish.

The Final Word

Most people may throw out or sell a wooden table that’s looking a little worse for wear. Some might consider getting a professional to restore it at great expense. But now you can revive any old wooden tables in your home. Use the simple steps given above to give an old table a fantastic new finish. Remember to not rush the job and to take proper safety precautions.