Mostly because, I don't really know what I'm doing. I'm just faking it, and I think I got lucky with this one. My aunt and uncle brought this old table to us on Thanksgiving. After a long useful life, it had been relegated to the barn for the last few years. When my aunt learned we were looking for a table for our eat-in kitchen, she gladly offered this old gal up. I love the style, and the grain of the beautiful beech, but it had seen better days.
Being that our garage is already full of pressure treated timbers, leaf blowers, miscellaneous chairs, a fire pit, etc, I needed to get this out of there asap. Also, I absolutely detest the little table we had in the kitchen, so I was plenty motivated to get this one done.
There was no shellac, polyurethane or any other coating on the table, so I started to clean it with steel wool and some denatured alcohol. My brother in law told me about the successes he'd had using it on old furniture, and so I'd picked up a can a little while ago.
I was lucky that it was another warm day here, so I was able to work outside in the garage. I wore gloves to protect my hands from the alcohol and worked in small sections. As I worked across, I scrubbed gently with the steel wool and sloughed off the dirty residue. Then wiped everything clean with a damp rag and warm water. When it was dry I took my orbital sander to the top, using 220 grit sandpaper.
I'm pretty happy with how well it cleaned up. The watermark you can see here is the only spot still visible. Not bad considering how it started out. To finish it off, I ran to Home Depot to pick up a can of Minwax Finishing Wax. It went on easily, and buffed to a nice sheen. I almost went with Tung Oil, but was afraid an oil might highlight any leftover imperfections. I'm glad I went with the wax. It came out exactly as I'd hoped.
This is the table we had in the kitchen. I hate it, but it served a purpose. We don't eat here ever, but still needed a little something in the space. This little oak table just looked so cheap, it drove me crazy.
And after, with the new table in place...