Step 1: Things You Need
-Old table to refinish, we bought ours at a local antique mall
-Several hundred pennies, this one took about $3 worth
-Sandpaper of varying grits (60, 120, 220, 320; work your way up)
-Super glue (any will work well)
-Some type of epoxy, I used a type made for bar-tops, it was perfect
-Some type of wood stain, whatever your preference (I chose Minwax,Red Mahogany)
-Couple of brushes (Purdy brushes are great, use natural fibers for a smooth, “bubble-less” finish)
-Mineral Spirits to wipe down sanded table, as well as clean brush
-Some type of Polyurethane (I used Minwax again, with a gloss finish)
-Paper or wax cups for mixing epoxy
-Popsicle sticks for mixing epoxy
-Various plastic sheets for easy cleanup
-Preferably a space dust-free to stain and finish
-About 3 or 4 days
Step 2: Step 1: Choosing a Table
-Decide on a table to refinish
-Purchase/Gather your supplies
-Disassemble, if possible, to make the surface you are working with easier to handle
-In this case, the table top screwed off and had a painted design on the surface
-Determine what level of work this project entails, and plan accordingly
Step 3: Step 2: Sanding
-Begin sanding down the surface of the table as well as the sides. To begin, use a corse grit sandpaper, about 60 or 80 grit to strip the old finish/stain/paint off of the table. It is much easier to use an electric sander, which I did not have. This process, done by hand, takes about 6 hours to get a nice, smooth finish. After the table is rough and the majority of it shows bare wood, use a higher grit sandpaper. Move to about 120 or 220 and re-sand the table again. This ensures every crack and blemish on the table is smoothed out ready for finish. After the sanding is done with the 220 grit, clean off the excess sawdust.
-I first blew the dust off, vacuumed the table, and wiped it down with a dampened paper towel with mineral spirits. This works well, and you MUST ensure that the table is completely clear of any and all dust particles. Tack cloths work well also.
Step 4: Step 3: Staining
-Now that your table is perfectly smooth and ready to stain, gather your favorite wood stain and a nice brush. Believe me, you get your moneys worth for a good brush. Like I said, Purdy makes real nice, natural bristle brushes for about $10-$20 a piece. By the way, you can find all of these supplies at your local hardware store, (Lowes, Home Depot, Ace, Harbor Freight, etc.)
-Go to a well-ventilated area and follow the instructions on the can of stain. Apply thin, even coats, taking your time. Be sure to wait for each coat to fully dry before you move onto the next. This was frustrating for me because I had to wait a good 2 days to finish staining. I wanted to hurry and get the table done, therefore I started to stain and sand before the original layers were finished drying and it ruined a lot of sand paper by “gumming up” on it. It was a disaster, so I had to re-sand the entire thing from step 1 the next day, putting my project behind even more. SO, ALWAYS WAIT UNTIL THE STAIN FULLY DRIES BEFORE MOVING ON!
-Stain at least 2-3 layers to get a nice, even coat.
Step 5: Step 4: Applying Polyurethane
-Now that your table is nice and stained, and dried, it’s time to lightly sand again. This time you are going to use the very fine grit, 320 sandpaper. This step is optional but I wanted a glass-like finish when I was done, so I made sure my table was smooth. Using this grit will not take off the finish as long as you have a couple of layers and do it very lightly to get the bubbles/dust particles out.
-You will notice a huge difference by doing this light sanding. After you are done, brush the dust off, vacuum, and use a VERY LITTLE BIT of mineral spirits on a paper towel again. If you use too much mineral spirit, it will take the stain off the wood.
-Now time for the polyurethane coatings. This takes a lot of time, the longest part of your project by far.
-I started to use a spray on polyurethane coating, and quickly found out it did not look good at all. It was not thick and did not achieve that perfect, glass-like finish I wanted. So I re-sanded again, and bought Minwax brush on. This works a million times better. Take your time with this, you want it to look good. Use a natural brush and put on light, even coats of polyurethane. Let each layer dry before the next, about 2-4 hours. I liked to lightly sand between the first and second layer, just to ensure the bubbles were all gone. On the third layer, take your time and you should have a lovely finish.
-Keep in mind, the polyurethane makes a very shiny finish. There are different brands of polyurethane which have gloss, semi-gloss, and satin finishes. It’s your preference.
-Let the table dry completely before gluing the pennies on
Step 6: Step 5: Attach Pennies!
-Pick out your pennies to use on the table
-You can shine then up with a tarnish remover if you like, or whatever you think looks the best
-Arrange the pennies on the table but don’t glue them
-Now, for this part, I made a make-shift tool to pick up each penny and superglue it one by one. Just use a pen with a coin taped to the end of it. Duct tape works well, or you can use tweezers, whatever. Use something to glue each penny down, it should make sense what I’m talking about by looking at the pictures.
Step 7: Step 6: Epoxy
-When the pennies are all glued on, it’s time to put on the bar top epoxy.
-Follow the instructions on the package and do accordingly. For mine, I had two separate containers of Resin and Hardener. I had to mix EXACTLY the same amounts of each for about two minutes with a popsicle stick. This ensured the compound was evenly mixed for prime drying and finish. This part is kind of fun to do, but after the epoxy is mixed, pour it over the pennies. Make sure you are on a flat surface so the epoxy doesn’t dry crooked. Take the popsicle stick, or plastic putty knives, and spread the epoxy evenly across the surface of all the pennies. You should be able to get away with one layer, but if you have to do more, follow the package instructions.
-Let the epoxy completely dry for about 72 hours. This will give it time to harden and cure before use. DO NOT TOUCH THE EPOXY! I did, and it left a dent/ripple in one of the corners of the table, of course it’s not very noticeable, but frustrating!
Step 8: Caring for Your New Table
-You can use regular wood polisher on the entire table to keep a nice sheen. For the epoxy part, you can even use a high-quality wax and soft rag. You can go as far as waxing the top part of the table to keep it shiny and somewhat protected from coasters/water.
-Depending on where your table is (kitchen, living room, bedroom, etc.) depends on how much it will be used. Determine how often it will get used and that will help determine how much polyurethane coatings you will need. Less frequent areas can use 1-2 coats, and more frequent use, I would put on either 3 or 4 coats just to be safe. To some this may be over-kill, but it will protect your nicely finished table.