Ghosts of Furniture Past: Refinished Drop Leaf Table

My husband has very few mementos from his childhood, so for this project the pressure was on.   This round, drop leaf table was used for just about every purpose in my husband’s family home.  It had seen better days.  It survived over 30 years of wear,  dirty hands, spilled drinks and more.  If only a little table could talk!  I could only imagine the stories it would tell!

I wanted to restore this table to its original state before all its scratches, and dings, but it would prove to be my most time-consuming project to date, and also the most rewarding.

Cleaning over 30 years of dirt and grime is not easy, but a necessary step when preparing a table for restoration.  I cleaned it throughly with a damp cloth and used a scrubber sponge for tough to clean areas.  Once clean and dry, it was time to sand it and I did so by hand with sandpaper!  This was very messy and time-consuming.  I suggest wearing a mask, and doing this in an area you don’t mind getting dirty. Completing this part of the project outside would be preferable.  All the more reason to invest in an electric sander having one would have accelerated this process.  In between other projects I worked tirelessly to get the table completely sanded and ready for staining.

Round Drop Leaf Table

I chose Minwax  Jacobean 2750 for the stain.  I wanted a dark rich color, which would contrast nicely with the sandstone colored walls.  While working with oil based paint be sure to have a proper solvent nearby for clean-up.  I use Safer Paint Thinner which is more environmentally friendly than traditional cleaners.  I applied the Minwax stain with a brush, following along with the wood grain.  Unfortunately, for me,  I applied too much stain and due to the humid summer weather, the table took over a week to dry!  At this point, I was in no rush, and it rested quietly in the craft room locked away and out of reach from curious toddler hands.

Once the table was completely dry, I sealed it with quick drying Minwax Semi-Gloss Polyurethane.  I applied two coats, for a smooth finish.

Restored Family table

Finally!  After many weeks and many more pieces of sandpaper, the family table was complete and ready for its permanent place of honor in our family home.

Before and After Drop Leaf Table:

Before and After Refinished Drop Leaf Table


7 thoughts on “Ghosts of Furniture Past: Refinished Drop Leaf Table

  1. Having a little, beautiful, drop leaf table (a little like yours, but pine and oval in shape when opened), which I had to work on following an unnoticed (for a couple of hours) spillage of a liquid air fragrance accident, I know how much work can go into re-finishing a table!

    I obviously hadn’t learned my lesson though, because I went on to buy a fabulous 70 years old pine table in an auction which had all manner of marks to the top – numerous colours of paint splashes, cup rings, spillages etc, and I re-did the top of that too.

    Both of these tables were very much worth the work – as was yours. The finished result looks beautiful. The grain of the wood practically sings now. I bet it looks quite majestic in your home. And I also bet that your husband is thrilled to bits with what you’ve done to his family heirloom.

    It’s now a beautiful piece of furniture which can be passed down through the family, with stories attached to it. Ohh!! You could do it’s own story book! Like a scrapbook of the table – with blank pages at the back so that more ‘stories’ can be added to it. If the family have any old photographs where the table can be seen – you could add those photo’s too! (or scan the originals and put a print out of them into the scrapbook).

    The table would then have it’s own written story which would be passed on through the generations. How fabulous!

    But I agree – you need to buy a hand sander and lots of the sanding things which attach to it so that you have it ready for the next project. (and I bet there will be another project like this one!)

    GREAT post, OnTheUp. It was such a wonderful read and it brought back the hard work but happy memories of my own projects. Brilliant.
    Sending love (as always) ~ Cobs. x


  2. Cobs what lovely words and an amazing idea to do the scrapbook! The hubby doesn’t have a lot of photos but I want to look through what we have to see if we can spot the table! Thanks so much as always! I always enjoy your comments and it makes me smile when you stop by!!


  3. I think you have created the perfect piece for your home, UpMom. What a union of your hubby’s past and your present. It’s beautiful, restored with care and love. I hope he treated you very well the evening of its official “dry-and-done.” 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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