About 14 years ago, my mom bought a cheap, build it yourself kitchen island with stools. When I moved out, I took it with me and used it as a work bench in my garage for the past 6 years or so. This thing has been abused, hammered on, drilled, spray painted many, many, times, and has had gasoline, brake cleaner, and various other chemicals spilled on it. Needless to say, it was pretty rough, and I don't think that it was ever meant to last this long, even under it's intended use.
My wife and I are now moving to an apartment where I will have no space for a work bench, I was going to throw it out, but I decided that I would do a little bit of experimenting with it first.
I have always been into reclaimed materials being used as interior decor, and saving old pieces and giving them a new lease on life, but this was my first attempt at "Reduce, Reuse, and Redesign"
Step 1: STEP ONE
Pick out the old table, workbench, or what have you that you want to bring back to life. Take it apart (if applicable) and clean it. As you can see mine was pretty filthy, so your cleaning time, may not take as long as mine.