Dailey Woodworks

Restoring and Refinishing an Antique End-Table

My mother brought this end-table for me to refinish.  Originally I was going to paint it red, but I decided I would try to strip all the paint and bring it back to a wood finish.

The table is between 80-100 years old.  It was attacked by the 1970’s and painted “Harvest Gold.”  Here are some before pictures.




The process for removing the paint is straight forward but time consuming.  For the flat surfaces I started sanding with 80-grit paper on my Random Orbital sander.  Given the age of the paint, it was most likely lead-base paint.  I took safety precautions by hooking my sander up to my shop vac, having a fan constantly bringing fresh air in and blowing dust away from me, and of course wore a dust mask.  I then worked my way up through the grits to get a smooth surface.

The legs presented their own challenge.  Power sanding just wasn’t an option.  If I had a lathe I would have used that to sand the legs.  Since I don’t I used several coats of gel paint stripper.  I think I repeated the paint stripper application 4 times.  I then began the tedious process of hand sanding all the spindles.

To finish and protect the table I chose Watco Medium Walnut Danish Oil Finish.  This was my first time using Watco but I found it very simple to use and am very happy with the results.  I’ll be using it again.  It’s almost fool-proof and is one step for both color and protection.  I normally will use stain, then wipe-on poly, but the one step of Watco sure saved me time.


Before applying Watco
Before applying Watco
After applying Watco
After applying Watco

For the table itself, I intentionally did not try to bring it to an “as-new” appearance.  It is an antique with years of use and character and I wanted to keep as much of that as practical and possible.  There are still a few stains in the wood, a drink ring, and a burn mark from a cigarette or cigar.  This is part of the beauty of the piece in my opinion.

Here are the finished results:

Thank you for reading.  If you have any questions just ask!  Also, please subscribe to my blog (I’ll never spam you) and subscribe to my Youtube Channel so you can see the process of my work in action.

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