this is my second instructable. I will try to continue to update it with finer details as needed
have an old coffee table I constructed with a friend a long time ago. Intended for watching movies and resting your heels on, I figured it could be rough on top so I just did a simple application of used clear stain and fast drying polyurethane. Looking back I can understand I was 14yrs old (not reading a ton of books) and when offered some left over Kya (type of African mahogany) I did not turn it down along with some maple. So I set out to tidy up the top as that is what the naked eye of most folks see first. (and hope they do not notice the crumby finish on the Poplar below)
Step 1: Removing old varnish outside
took this puppy outside to do the initial sanding which consisted of removing the old tacky poly and crumby water based wood stain.
Step 2: Hand sanding
took me the better part of half a day to remove two thirds of the top layer. Used an empty spray gun to blow old dust off as I sanded.
use really coarse sandpaper to get rid of the old finish. 60grit or so. sand wit the grain
use a damp rag to figure out if you have removed all of the old finish. the (natural wood) unfinished material will pop out at you.
the edges were coved and I did my best to keep them that way
watch out for corners as you will run into end grain. for the removal part I did not pay too close attention sanding across the grain at the tables ends. fuss about that later
Step 3: Sleeping
I figured I would finish the removal process the next day as I was beat after five hours of sanding by hand.
be sure to get some sleep. that is important
Step 4: Crap removed
get back up to it and take your time. once the all the old stuff is off it is time to pull out the finer sandpaper