How to Make a Distressed Oak Table
An old distressed oak table, as odd as it may seem, can be worth more than some newer tables, simply because it has a look of age. Many visitors to antique shops and yard sales are looking for older furniture. Some want to resell them to antique dealers, while others are simply wanting them for their own homes. If you have an old oak table and would like to give it more personality, you might consider a distressed look. Here's how:
Step 1 - Strip off all Paint and Varnish
Strip the table down to bare wood, using paint remover. Apply the paint remover to the surface of the table, including its legs and extra leaves. Be sure to wear plastic gloves. Give the paint remover 15 minutes to dissolve any varnish or paint on it. Remove the paint remover, using a scraper. If varnish, sealer, or paint remains anywhere on the able, reapply paint remover. Use a damp sponge to remove paint remover in cracks or places on the table you can't reach with the scraper.
Step 2 – Smooth the Table Surface
Use a fine grade of steel wool, or to remove areas of the surface that may be rough. Steel wool works better than sandpaper where there are remnants of paint remover left on the table's surface. To remove left-over spots where varnish or paint still remain, use sandpaper.
Step 3 – Create Texture
To give your table surface a distressed look, beat it with a chain that has links heavy enough to make dents in the table surface. Don't overdo the dents. Too many will make the stressing seem unnatural. Create holes that resemble worm holes by stabbing the table surface with an ice pick. Here, again, don't overdo the holes. Both worm holes and dents should be made randomly without any pattern.
Step 4 – Sand Distress Bumps
You'll find, after beating and stabbing the table, that tiny ridges will be made by the chain and ice pick as they strike the surface. They will need to be smoothed off by sanding. When finished sanding, use a damp cloth to remove sanding dust and debris. Then, give the table a few minutes to dry completely.
Step 5 – Apply Stain
Use a dry rag to apply stain. Do small areas, one at a time, quickly wiping off excess stain to avoid blotching or stain buildup. As you apply the stain, rub it into the grain of the wood, being careful not to leave excess stain that can darken. Your table will have an older look if you wipe off more stain on corners and edges where older tables are naturally more worn.
Step 6 – Apply a Sealer
When your stain has dried, apply a satin sealer to give your table a natural finish but one that will protect it from watermarks and stains.