Friday, February 2, 2018

Refinishing Furniture: Coffee Table

how to refinish furniture

Last summer, my sister-in-law (the one who married Mr. Handsome's youngest brother one year ago) found an amazing deal at Goodwill: a large, solid wood coffee table for $8. It was an ugly, faded red color and was quite beat up, but the price was right, so she bought it with plans to refinish it.

how to refinish furniture

A few days later, they were preparing to host four guests in their tiny, one-bedroom apartment, so my brother-in-law dropped the table off at our house. He said it was temporary, but I think he secretly hoped it would never make its way back to their place. (He's a bit of a minimalist.)

Fast-forward to last week. It had been seven months, and the coffee table was still with us. (It lived under our covered back porch because it was just too ugly for me to allow it inside.) I looked at it one day and decided that it had been at our home long enough that it was officially ours. We didn't have a coffee table, so I set to work fixing it up.

I'll admit that this was my first furniture refinishing project. Before getting started, I read articles online, spoke with a woodworker friend, and talked to the friendly folks at The Home Depot. The project took about 10 hours and a lot of elbow grease, but the finished product turned out better than I could have imagined. I also didn't have to go to the gym for a week because sanding and applying stain and polyurethane was enough of a workout, so that was a plus!

My first step was sanding the entire table with #80 sandpaper and then wiping all the sawdust away with a damp cloth. After the old finish was removed, I followed with #220 sandpaper and then wiped it down again. Below is what the table looked like when I was done. I was tempted to skip the stain and go right to the polyurethane, but I knew the light color wouldn't match our decor.

how to refinish furniture

When the table was completely dry, I applied Minwax Water Based Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner, according to the instructions on the can. The next step was the Minwax Wood Finish Penetrating Oil Based Stain (Dark Walnut 2716). I applied 2 coats, also according to the instructions on the can. The first was fairly thick because I wanted a nice, dark color, so I allowed it to dry for 24 hours. The second was thinner, so it only needed to dry for 6 hours.

The last step was the Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane (Clear Satin), according to the instructions on the can. I applied 3 coats using foam brushes and waiting about 4 hours between each coat.

I was so pleased with the results that I went out and bought an inexpensive random orbital sander and started another refinishing project.

how to refinish furniture

In addition to the above-mentioned sandpaper, conditioner, stain, and polyurethane, I used plastic drop cloths, a mask and gloves specifically for strong chemicals, eye protection, a paint can opener, a paint stir stick, and several foam brushes in different sizes (for best results, use a new one for every step). You'll also want to wear old clothes that you don't care about.

supplies to refinish furniture

19 comments:

  1. Shela G1/29/2018

    You did a terrific job!! It looks very nice.

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    1. Thanks, Shela! Glad you like it.

      Ellie

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  2. Anonymous1/29/2018

    Hope you paid your SIL back the $8 for the coffee table she no longer has. Did anyone ever ask her if she wanted it?

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    1. Anonymous1/30/2018

      Based on Ellie's story, her sister-in-law has been aware that it has been in Ellie's possession for more than 6 months. I've had people do the same things to me after they've asked me to hold on to something for what was supposed to be a week. After a month or so, you pretty much have to figure out what to do with it on your own if they don't come back and claim it for themselves.

      It almost seems silly to call them up after 6 months and ask "Hey, do you guys want this back?" when they already know that it's there. Ellie stored it in her home as a favor and they left it there. No hard feelings towards them, it's just that something needed to be done with it and so, Ellie did something with it and it looks great!

      And now it has an interesting story behind it too =)

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    2. Anonymous1/30/2018

      If an item has any connection at all to another owner, and if you have not clearly communicated with that owner about whether or not they still want the item, then you should not assume it's unwanted and it's yours, no matter what length of time has elapsed.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous1/31/2018

      It just shows that if a person has something and they really want it they should not leave it and go away trusing it will stay ok. But I think it seems to go against the idea of storing something as a favour if the person who is doing the favour appropriates the item instead. Definitely I think asking the owner if they are going to get it is important to do. The $8 might not be important to pay if they don't plan to get that item anymore. It it were more valuable maybe.
      Ellie did a nice job of refinishing the table.

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    4. Anonymous2/10/2018

      I would consider the $8 the price of storing the item for months. It seems pretty clear that they were never coming back for the table. You did a wonderful job refinishing it!

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  3. Anonymous1/29/2018

    What a tranformation! The new stain is much nicer than the old. Great job. I have always wanted to try a project like this but worry about fumes. It looks like you did the work in your bathroom. Do you have a window to open? What are you refinishing now? Eileen

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Eileen. The fumes aren't terrible, but they aren't ideal. On cold days, I work indoors, but we have a heated shed attached to the house where the furniture can dry. On warm days, I work outside and then put it in the shed when I'm finished.

      I refinished a nightstand the Mr. Handsome made back in high school, and now I'm working on our kitchen table and chairs.

      Ellie

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  4. Ellie it looks lovely! Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thank you, Regina! My pleasure.

      Ellie

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  5. Wow Ellie that's awesome! You did fantastic for your first time!!! I have a little cute buffet/dresser that needs that done so badly but I have no clue what to do and it's not really my interest...wish I could bring it to you! �� Thanks for sharing all your neat things. Sounds like you stay busy busy!

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    1. Thank you Candi! I do try to stay busy. I would be happy to help if we lived close. Maybe you have a friend or family member who enjoys refinishing?

      Ellie

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  6. Anonymous1/30/2018

    I love the dark stain you use and the coffee table turn out beautiful. Hope we can see your next refinishing project. Have a nice day!!!Jane

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Jane. I'll definitely post photos of my other projects. Just got a deal on a solid wood end table that I'm also going to refinish.

      Ellie

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  7. Anonymous1/31/2018

    Looks nice!

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  8. Anonymous2/08/2018

    Hey Ellie, I've been following your blog for a couple of months now, as well as the duggar and bates blogs that you do, and I am just so curious, since you guys are known as "Lily and Ellie".. who is Lily? Has she ever posted anything?

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  9. Anonymous2/10/2018

    Wow, Ellie, you are so enterprising! That is beautiful!

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