Many years of use and abuse took their toll on this poor table, but it still had alot of life left in it. It just had to be convinced of that fact.
Step 1: It Can Only Get Better
The finish on the table was rubbed down to bare wood in many places, and the whole table was covered with rings caused by hot containers being placed on the table without any form of trivet or pot holder.
I knew it was going to take some work but there was still a nice table under all that mess.
Step 2: Sanding
The most important step.
If you do a sloppy job here the rest of the project will suffer, But if you take your time and do it right you will see an amazing finished product.
The tabletop was in horrible shape. I did not want to use chemicals to strip down the wood so that meant alot of sanding.
I started with 80 grit then 100 grit on the orbital sander. After that I switch to hand sanding using 120 grit, 150 grit, and finally 180 grit. For straining, 180 grit is as fine as you should go. It will give you a smooth finish without decreasing how well the wood will absorb the stain.
For the rough sanding, an orbital sander is fine, but after that you want to switch to sanding only with the grain to avoid damaging the wood across the grain. Take care to always sand with the grain, sanding cross-grain tears the wood fibers so the sanding scratches show up much more, especially under a stain.
Step 3: Staining
Choose a color you like and work quickly but carefully to apply a nice even coat and then wipe off the excess as per the directions on the container.
Step 4: Finishing
I started this project outside, and got all the way through the stain before the rain clouds reared their ugly heads. So the finish was applied in the basement.
Erring on the side of caution I grabbed my respirator and got to work.
When you are getting your polyurethane ready for use stir it well to make sure it is mixed. DO NOT shake it. That can cause bubbles that may transfer to your finished work.
Just like the sanding, applying your finish should always go with the grain.
A thin consistent coat is the way to go. A thick coat will take longer to dry, more likely to be uneven coverage, and will attract more dust.
Wait the recommended drying time.
Test sand a small inconspicuous spot to make sure your finish is dried enough. If all goes well you are ready to lightly sand your project (400 grit), remove all the sanding dust and apply a second coat