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How we refinished our oak dining table

For videos of this project, visit us on our Instagram @Roserenosdesign. All videos are under the highlight “Dining Table”.


I purchased this beautiful Canadian-made oak table on Facebook Marketplace for 85$. I liked the style of the table, but disliked the amber finish. Here is how I transformed this oak dining table into a more modern natural-looking finish.

Since this was my first time refinishing a table, I used the following two sources as guides:

Things I used for this project:


First step: Removing the old finish with strippers


I used 2 products to remove the old finish.


Firstly, I used Heirloom Heavy Duty Paint Stripper which is a thick gel stripper. I applied this product with a disposable brush, let it sit for about 10 minutes, and then removed it with a wide putty knife (moderate pressure).

It is best to not over brush when applying the stripper; your goal is to distribute the stripper evenly. Before removing the stripper with a putty knife, I rounded off the corners of the putty knife with a file to avoid scratching the table.

This product removed 80% of the finish.


Secondly, I used Solvable Contractor Strength Heavy-Duty Stripper, another gel stripper. I preferred this product to the Heirloom Stripper. This removed most of the remaining finish. You can use the edge of a cardboard box to remove the finish from the putty knife.

Next time, I will try to use a liquid stripper instead of a gel stripper for this second step; after staining my table, I noticed some of the old finish was still visible. A liquid stripper will most likely be able to remove any stubborn residue. Medium fine steel wood can help dislodge any of the remaining finish.


Removing the old finish with strippers took about 2 hours.


As a third step to removing the finish, you can use a lacquer thinner (SOLVABLE 3.78L Lacquer Thinner). I did not do this step, but since some of the old finish came through after staining, I will probably do this step next time to avoid this problem.


Second step: Time to sand!


Sanding was a two step process.I sanded the entire table with a 100 grit sandpaper and then sanded it again with a 220 grit sandpaper to ensure a smooth finish. This took about 3 hours. After sanding, I wiped the table before staining.



Third step: Staining the table


This was the tricky part. I had a hard time finding a stain that wouldn’t amber the wood. Most oil-based finishes can make the wood look orange over time, so I wanted to stay away from that. A lot of websites suggest using a water-based finish to solve this problem.


At first, I thought I wanted a blonde natural look so I decided to follow the Thrift Diving blog on how to do that. She used wax instead of a stain. I ended doing a mix of both.


So the first wax I applied was the Briwax Liming Wax. It definitely gave the wood a blonde look. But after seeing it in my home, it was a bit too white/pink compared to my floors.


I didn’t feel like sanding the table all over again so I added Varathane wood stain in color Early American on top of the wax. The wood was so thirsty that it absorbed it instantly. Because of the white liming wax, it turned the Early American colour into a lighter natural warm finish which I loved. Without the liming wax, this stain colour would have been darker.


To finish it off, I added the Fiddes & Sons wax polish. I must admit, this product was a bit glossier than I was expecting. It is very smooth to the touch and I can tell the table is well-protected, but at certain angles, you can see the shine and the strokes of the wax (even though I applied it with the grain). I am not sure I would recommend this finish (especially since it is fairly expensive). I think I will try a water-based finish next time and only use stain instead of wax. But in the end, the wax isn't that bad; I think I'm just picky.


You will notice how the corners are a tad gray. That's because I did not sand the corners properly. I don't mind it, but if you want a clean look, invest more time in sanding the corners and legs.


Again, here is the before and after:



For videos of this project, visit us on our Instagram @Roserenosdesign. All videos are under the highlight “Dining Table”.


Happy renovating!


The Roses


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