Refinish antique farm table


Old 11-15-04, 11:39 AM
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Refinish antique farm table


I have a circa 1880 farm table. The top is made from 3 pine board: 2 14-inch sandwiching one 8-inch. The table top has tons of character...cigarette burns along the sides, and varying colors throughout. We were given the table as a gift from a prominent antiques dealer...cost about $1,600 8 years ago.

The table was dark stained with a hard finish. The wood is rough, and between the boards was wood filler. It WAS beautiful.

Today, the filler is chunking out, and the finish has completely worn away in spots. I want to bring this beauty back to life, without sanding down or stripping off the stuff that gives it character (like the cigarette burns).

I don't have much experience with refinishing. Does anyone know if I can successfully stip off the old poly (or laquer, I don't know what it is) and restain and finish, without bringing it down to bare wood? If so, what product and method is optimal.

Many thanks for your help with this...come over and enjoy a dinner on the table with us, anytime!

Old 11-15-04, 11:50 AM
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Taylors, SC
Posts: 9,483
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
If the finish is lacquer, you can remove it by using lacquer thinner. This may remove the stain as well. No guarantees.

If the finish is polyurethane, stripping the table will be the only option to remove the finish. The stripper will remove the stain, too.

If the finish is lacquer, you can refresh it with more lacquer. Clean the surface with mineral spirits to remove, grease, wax, grit, and grime, first.

As a general rule, refinishing an old piece destroys it value. It will be just an old piece refinished.

If the table was worth $1,600 8 years ago in its current condition, I would be tempted to leave it.
Old 11-15-04, 12:03 PM
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Hi Chris, and thanks for the quick reply.

1. The table when I got it was newly and beautifully finished...but it was a beautifully finished old farmhouse table, not a finely crafted piece of furniture. It's value is in its age and character...the scars and marks in the wood, the cigarette burns down the edge which appear to be from the farmhands as they sat around playing cards (at least that's what I imagine)...which come through with stain and gloss finish. There is no "vintage" for such a craftsman's mark or anything.

8 years of being in my dining room, and three kids I've had since I got it, have been the undoing of that finish, which was applied by the antiques dealer after finding the table on a farm in the Hudson Valley.

2. Is there a way to tell if the finish is laquer or poly?

Old 11-15-04, 01:08 PM
pgtek's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: north Carolina
Posts: 1,398
Received 1 Vote on 1 Post
lacker is easly to detect it will scrape like flakes and not hard to remove usulay ligth to scratch
i douth its laker must be more ploy.
since laquer is fairly new to application finish

hope this helps
Old 11-15-04, 01:16 PM
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Taylors, SC
Posts: 9,483
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
In an out of the way place, dab the surface with a cotton ball or other dampened with fingernail polish remover or lacquer thinner. If it deglosses immediately upon contact, it is lacquer.

The value of a piece is not due to its high quality, just its authenticity. I see your point.
Old 11-15-04, 05:28 PM
Dave_D1945's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Bay Area, CA
Posts: 1,178
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Before you do anything, check with an antiques dealer and find out what refinishing will do to the value of your table. You might want to have it professionally done so the value isn't severely lowered.

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Your question will be posted in: