Originally the table came with a lot wear & neglect. It was totally uneven, dented all over, part of it was burned, it was drying to the point the boards were coming loose with one crack going almost through. Process is clockwise around the table.
First I pulled the dents using a regular iron (Just place a cloth over the wood & iron using a steam setting. The dent will mostly pop back out when the fibers relax.
Before learning this I used to be frustrated sanding these down which was difficult because it would always leave a bump where the dent was, which now is because the surface is uneven due to the dent area being compressed)
Then I disassembled half the table to clamp the board that came loose back on with wood glue & put wax paper down so it wouldn't stick to the board clamped to keep it even.
The table appeared warped & since I have a junk (cheap) hand planner I used a chisel instead to remove junk stuck on, & flatten out the high sections.
Sanding went quick, maybe 20 minutes using 80 & then 180 grit?
The rag is the colour of the stain [Minwax] Special Walnut & the table came out a blackish colour which didn't match at all. & then I stained it the very beautiful [Minwax] Gunstock. Both those coats got about an hour to 2 hours to soak in.
Right after doing the first Gunstock coat Roland came out to see it like the first picture & felt it was perfect. Well Roland I stained it 3 more times with the Special Walnut & wiping it off this time to ensure an even coat & richer colour, so what do you think?
I'll tell you what I think, at this point the spots that used to be cracks in the table started to show & so I touched them up heavily with a cue tip & let it set for half an hour in the morning before wiping off & repeating where needed.
Lastly I heavily mineral oiled the table with 3 coats. Top Legs some underneath & it soaked it all up like a sponge & though they received it shinny from the oil, it'll soak in to maintain a more rustic look & not be shiny at all. The other perk is that it's child safe in case someone decides to gnaw or cut on the table. Clean with soap & water. Roland & Alyssa loved it & said it looks like it's from Ashley's Furniture.
Unfortunately Alyssa took 409 cleaner to it the day after & wiped off a whole section of the oil & stain while cleaning it. So for her Poly Urethane would've been the better option, definitely leaving a very gloss finish and add a harder protective shell to stand up to the industrial cleaners.