A Place to Eat

We’ve been in the house for almost three months and still don’t have a dining table. All this time we’ve been enjoying our lovely meals on portable TV trays. While we sit on our brand spanking new sofas. What’s the likelihood we’ve already had a spill or two on them? Lucky for us we have a warranty that will cover cleanings whenever we need them, so we’ll definitely be taking advantage of that!

We tried to find a new dining set but everything we liked was more than we wanted to pay, especially for the quality of the items. So every week I’ve gone to Habitat for Humanity’s Restore in hopes of buying something we could refinish. Our dining space is small so we were looking for something that was small but expandable with leaves, or offered storage.

In the end we found something medium sized that at some point had a leaf but was missing, and didn’t offer any storage. Therefore checking off none of our criteria but sometimes when you find something, you know it’s ‘the one’! We scored a solid wood Ethan Allen table for just $55!

Sadly, we took it home and got to work on it so quickly that I didn’t stop to take a picture of the before. Except this shot, to give you an idea of the color

Thrift store scores
Loaded up with thrift store scores

Refinishing furniture can be really easy if the woodwork is not heavily detailed, but it does take patience, attention, time, and more patience. We loaded up on different grits of sandpaper and got to work. Remember, always sand with the grain, never against.

Sanding the table
Safety first, always wear protection!

Once the table is sanded, and before you can stain, you want to make sure it is free of any dust. You’ll want to use a tack cloth which will pick it all up.

Clean with tack cloth
Wearing a glove because I hate the feeling of tack cloth
Tack cloth after cleaning
See all the dust it picked up?

Now it’s time to stain, baby! In my opinion the best part of refinishing furniture is applying the stain, it’s amazing how quickly it transforms a piece. You can use a brush to apply the stain but using a rag/cloth is my preferred method. Just apply it, and wipe off the excess with a clean one.

Applying stain
Using a rag to apply
Side by side
See how gorgeous the transformation is?
Color of the legs
This will give you a better idea of the original color (on the right) before the stain (on the left)

After staining, make sure you give enough time before applying additional coats or starting the poly. Even if it’s dry to the touch, remember it is soaking into the wood so it’s better to give it more time than you probably think is necessary.

I don’t have many tips for applying poly because I’m still working through figuring out the best application. I’ve read stir, don’t shake the can. Shaking the can doesn’t matter. Foam brushes are best. High quality fine bristled brushes are best. So I think it takes practice and trial and error to find what works best for you.

Half the poly
The table with half poly

Between coats of poly, you’ll want to very lightly sand so that the next coat has something to adhere to.

I went a little too heavy with the sanding the first time around, which you’ll want to be careful of. You don’t want to end up sanding to the stain because it will be difficult to spot touch up.

After sanding
Left hand after sanding (before wiping clean), right side after one coat of poly before sanding

This post is getting pretty long so I’m going to break it into two posts. That and it’s not finished yet 🙂

Stay tuned for the next post to see how the table turned out!

What’s your favorite part of refinishing furniture?



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