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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
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    Default HELP! I need to refinish old farm table top!

    I have, what appears to be an old farm table that is in desperate need of refinishing. It is used as an everyday dining table. It currently is not holding up well to children and I would like a finish on the top that can be easily cleaned. Any suggestions??

    THANKS!
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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
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    5,842

    Default Re: HELP! I need to refinish old farm table top!

    I'm not sure Acrylic Urethane would be a good choice for this. It's very hard and I believe you will develop cracks over time because of wood movement. I would recommend that you lightly sand the top with 220 grit sandpaper, clean with paint thinner and apply a couple coats of high gloss poluretheane, sanding between coats with 220 grit sand paper. Then apply a coat or two of semigloss or satin polyuretane. To refreash you will only have to sand with 220 grit and apply a new top coat of poly ever 2 or 3 years. This worked very well when our children were still at home.
    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    1,131

    Default Re: HELP! I need to refinish old farm table top!

    katie,

    If you're looking for a relatively easy to apply yet durable finish, I'd suggest you try an oil-based polyurethane. (Valspar still makes a good one although the formula has been adjusted in recent years to meet the new VOC regs). Waterborne products (including WB polys) can be persnickety as regards temps and humidity levels...and if you over-brush them ......you could encounter sheen and leveling problems.

    Some prep will be necessary of course......but before you decide what needs to be done prep-wise........you kinda need to consider a few things.

    Hopefully you know what is on the table now as regards type of finish. (If you're not the original owner or bought it from a store outlet.... probably not. )It's always bestest if you can start with a clean slate; IOW bare wood with no finish on it. Reason being that although some finishes are reasonably compatable with other types of finishes......others aren't so much. For example, I wouldn't personally overcoat a nitro-cellulose finish (Deft "clear wood finish" being an example of a nitro finish) with anything other than more coats of nitro. This because other finishes don't adhere well to nitro (or lacquers in general) and you could end up with peeling finish down the trail or perhaps immediately. By the way......nitro would NOT be my choice for a common dining or kitchen table as it's too soft and too susceptable to damage from a variety of common substances found in cleaners, food (acids from tomato sauce,etc) soaps and even just plain old water if left to sit a while.........as well as being easily damaged by heat.

    If there are oils in the wood from food which has penetrated thru the presently deteriorated finish.......those oils will likely raise havoc with adhesion of the new finish. Cleaning with solvents like mineral spirits and lacquer thinner *may* clean up the wood sufficiently for adhesion of the new finish............or stripping and sanding may be required. Impossible to call from here.

    If anyone has used any silicone-bearing products on the table such as Pledge, Liquid **** or similar..........you now may have an even bigger problem on your hands... if the present finish is cracked or worn away....because if so........the silicone has made its way into the wood fibers. Nothing likes to stick to silicone and it is virtually impossible to completely remove There are ways that silicone contamination can frequently be overcome, but..............it requires special techinques, special products and spray equipment.

    If this table has a modern catalyzed finish on it.........stripping back to bare wood before applying any finish is highly advisable.

    Don't mean to make this sound like it's a lost cause, but rather just cautioning you that knowledge of the present type of finish and possible types of contamination can be key to a successful refinish outcome.

    If you go with an OB polyurethane......I'll advise that you do not do this inside the living quarters of the house if it's closed up for winter (no ventilation from the great out-of-doors). Reason being that during the first 6-8 hours the OB poly will give off vapors that can make folks ill. Better to do it in a heated garage space or similar that can be closed off from the rest of the house. Temps during application should be at least 55F (70 is more better) or it will take forever to kick-off the finish and get it dry. Dry and cured are two different things. OB poly will take 6 weeks to fully cure, but you can usually put it into "reasonable" use in 48-72 hours after the final coat is applied.

    I'd apply at least three coats if a brush is being used. If applying by brush....don't recoat until the previous coat is dry and firm to the touch (depending on temps..8 - 12 hours maybe)... then sand very lightly with 220 or 240 grit....before applying the next coat. Wipe up the dust from the light sanding with a cloth barely dampened with minerals spirits and/or use a shop-vac. Priority rule #1 -Dust is your enemy at all stages of finishing. Pay heed to that.

    All initial coats should be gloss and then the topcoat of the final sheen you desire (satin or semi-gloss perhaps). If you use satin or semi for all the coats...the end result will be less clear and more "cloudy"....so to speak. (I won't go into rubbing out the final result as it may not be necessary at all to meet your expected/desired result.)

    If using a oil-based finish.......use a high quality natural bristled brush....not a synthetic brush. Clean it up with/place it in........ mineral spirits between coats. A good brush is a joy to use and will last many years with good care/good cleaning. Cheap brushes are always a pain and not worth bringing home........except to use for stripper application.
    Last edited by goldhiller; 02-17-2008 at 10:46 PM.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    64

    Default Re: HELP! I need to refinish old farm table top!

    It appears to be a nicely worn old table with character. Rather than put a shiny new coat of something on it (and losing the charm), you might want to try this:
    If the finish is shot, and you are down to basically bare wood, treat it like a butcherblock - get some mineral oil (don't use veggie or olive oil, they get rancid, and don't use furniture oil, it could be toxic), and slop the oil all over the top, using a rag or new paint brush. Put a lot on, and let it soak in, moving the oil around from the places not sucking much in, to the areas that are thirstier. Let it soak up as much as it wants, then wipe off the excess with a clean rag. After another 10 minutes or so, the table top should be able to withstand even kool-aid, so long as you wipe it up quickly, and give the table another mineral oil bath when it looks thirsty.
    You can keep the applicator in a plastic bag to use repeatedly.
    I had a huge butcherblock, and it survived 4 kids and a messy husband!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Sand Springs, OK
    Posts
    467

    Default Re: HELP! I need to refinish old farm table top!

    Quote Originally Posted by odd_artist View Post
    It appears to be a nicely worn old table with character. Rather than put a shiny new coat of something on it (and losing the charm), you might want to try this:
    If the finish is shot, and you are down to basically bare wood, treat it like a butcherblock - get some mineral oil (don't use veggie or olive oil, they get rancid, and don't use furniture oil, it could be toxic), and slop the oil all over the top, using a rag or new paint brush. Put a lot on, and let it soak in, moving the oil around from the places not sucking much in, to the areas that are thirstier. Let it soak up as much as it wants, then wipe off the excess with a clean rag. After another 10 minutes or so, the table top should be able to withstand even kool-aid, so long as you wipe it up quickly, and give the table another mineral oil bath when it looks thirsty.
    You can keep the applicator in a plastic bag to use repeatedly.
    I had a huge butcherblock, and it survived 4 kids and a messy husband!

    I agree with Odd Artist.
    Debby in Oklahoma

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Posts
    5

    Default Re: HELP! I need to refinish old farm table top!

    I have a reclaimed teak table that is currently unfinished. Trying not to change the color that much,should I use mineral oil, or are there other better options?

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Maryland
    Posts
    1,717

    Default Re: HELP! I need to refinish old farm table top!

    I've had good luck with Watco oil on wood inside. Their are any number of oil finishes on the market that are probably just as good.
    I'm still partial to boiled linseed oil rubbed into the wood over & over. It does darken the wood some, but really brings out the grain & beauty of the wood.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Posts
    64

    Default Re: HELP! I need to refinish old farm table top!

    If you are working on a surface that will be in contact with food or small children, I would still suggest the mineral oil, as it is non-toxic.
    It is also relatively inexpensive, compared to other oils. Be certain to research the toxicity of whatever you use.

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