How To: Refinish an Old Dining Room Table

By Brad Pennington

Have you ever been driving the winding roads of your home town and come across a lonely table, sitting under a tree of a neighbor’s lawn, and wondered, could that be used for something cool? Most people would drive by with zero thought of a piece of utilized furniture. We can change that, make it unique again. It’s a DIY project that anyone with a half a day’s time and basic tool knowledge can do.After a long day of work we noticed a 7’ x 40” table top sitting on the side of the road. It had been naturally coated with semi-gloss poly and a unique stripe of wood pattern-red/natural/red/natural. We took it and set out to create a dining room table with a beautiful red mahogany stain.

  • Miter saw/circular saw
  • Angle square
  • Biscuit joiner
  • Table saw
  • Drill driver
  • Bits
  • Pencil
  • Sponge or shop cloths
  • Scraper
  • Orbital sander
  • Level
  • Ratchet straps
  • Rubber cleaning gloves
  • Sanding Mask
  • Old Table
  • 150 and 220 grit sand paper
  • Wood glue
  • 2”x12”x10’ redwood)
  • 2”x6”x6’ redwood
  • 3 ½” finishing screws
  • 2 ½” wood screws
  • Indoor satin or semi-gloss polyurethane
  • 1 can wood striper
  • Wood conditioner

Step 1: Strip it Bare

Step 1

Using a can of wood stripper, coat the entire top of the old table using a paint brush. Let it sit and percolate for 15 minutes. Take your paint scrapper and scrap all the old poly and stain off. You may have to repeat a couple times to get the entire surface of the table free of poly. If there are challenging angles on the table get an old tooth brush and get in those grooves.

Have plenty of shop towels available to remove any unwanted material.

Step 2: Sand it Down

Step 3a

On almost every occasion we’ve refinished a table, extra material still lies in perfect sight after the wood stripper has been applied. Using an orbital sander or even good ol’ fashioned elbow grease with 150 grit sander paper helps remove all the extra gar-booshki you don’t want. When you feel like it’s clean, use the 220 grit and get after the table top. This opens the wood grain back up and produces the beautiful grain look you want.

Step 3: Condition and Stain

Step 3a

Nothing brings to life wood better than wood conditioner. This pops the grain and color and helps the wood take in the stain of choice. We settled on a red mahogany stain for our table. Take a shop cloth and cover the entire surface of the table with stain. You may want to do it twice for full cover effect.

Step 4: Poly Wanna Finish

Step 1

We didn’t want a “shine” look, so went with a satin finish to round out the top. Use another paint brush and go over the top 3 times for desired look. In between coats, I recommend a quick sanding using 220 grit paper. This removes the little bubbles that form upon drying.

Step 5: Build 'em Legs

Step 3a

Always start with a fresh cut board. If a table saw is handy, remove ¼” from each side of your 2”x12”x10’ redwood board. This gives the legs a strong finished look when joined.

Cut (4) x 28 ½” pieces from your board.

With the 2x6’ you have handy, cut 2 boards at 28”.

Step 3a

Now, the four 28 ½” cuts on one side need to trimmed down at a 20 degree angle using the table saw. Set the table saw, so only the bottom inside of the edge at 20 degrees will be removed.

If you have a biscuit joiner, join the 20 degree edges together. You will do this 2x. Glue and join.

We put the legs inverted, so it looks like a pyramid, and mounted on 2x4’’s and strapped the legs with ratchet straps for the wood glue to dry.

Step 3a

From the two ends of the legs, counter sink 3 ½” finishing screws, crossing direction. This just adds extra support.

Lastly, take your joined legs and mount to the 2x6x28” pieces. The “V” shaped leg should evenly fit within the area of the 2x6 support. Drop 2 ½” screws from the top into your “V” leg.

You can come up with any design leg you want. This our MoCa Handcrafted’s signature leg design. We think it looks great!

Step 6: Leg Mount

Step 3b

Once the top coat is dried and cleaned, flip it over. From the bottom outside end edges, measure in 16”. Mount the leg system from the bottom on each end using 2 ½” screws.

What is cool about the “V” leg is you can turn the legs outward or inward to create a unique look for your table.

Step 3a

As an add-on, You can finish a table any way you like. Add your twists, like legs or stain. The most crucial component is stripping the table. All tables have different edges and grooves and getting rid of the old finish is the most important. Time varies. Have fun with it and make your own leg ideas.