DIY: Refinishing a kitchen table and chairs

When I see fun crafting and home projects – especially great “before and after” pictures, I am often motivated to take on projects of my own.  Seeing the great outcome often makes me forget that there was a lot of in-between work that was done for someone to get that great finish.

Such was the case for our most time consuming DIY project in the new house.

Refinishing a table and chairs. 

And, I’ll say that it wasn’t the table that was hard. It was sanding the four chairs – with their little wood spindles and nooks and crannies!

For the details – we had a hand-me-down table from Dean’s dad and it had a set of 70’s style chairs.  The table is good, solid wood and I love it’s butcher block look, but I thought the chairs could use an upgrade to fit in with some of the other furniture in our house.

I found a set of 4 good solid wood chairs on Craigslist for $100.  They have a lot of the lines I wanted – just the wrong color and they looked a little ‘worn’.

This project started Mother’s Day week this year, so you can see how long the process took.  It was 2 months of on and off sanding.  90% of it was done by the hubs, and he spent a ton of time on them.

We used a little hand sander for the chairs and sanded by hand on the areas we couldn’t get.

For the table we borrowed my parents belt sander and it was awesome. It took more time for us to change the belt than it did to do the actual sanding part (which was about 25 mins!)

Without further ado: the before, during and after

You can see the dated chairs and lighter color finish.  I’d refinished the table before, several years ago, but this time, I was going for a dark cherry color. You can also see two of the chairs, right after I picked them up. They had a brown finish with black vinyl seat cover.  I knew the seat cover would stay – for now. With two messy boys, I need an easy-to-wipe-down surface!



Here is an easy graphic to show the process:
The before – and the most accurate representation of the starting color
One coat stain
Two coats stain
Final – three coats stain and three coats clear poly

table legs process
One of the chairs sanded down by the hubs. (About halfway through our sanding, my parents introduced us to Liquid Sandpaper, which still required sanding, but it help cut through the thick glossy coating so that sanding went quicker!)
The middle picture is the table sanded and the start of the wood conditioner. The third picture is two coats in and one to go!


AFTER:  Finally – the pièce de résistance… (three coats of Minwax Bombay Mahogany stain and three coats of clear poly):


As frustrating as the sanding was, the finished product looks awesome!  It’s like having a brand new table and it ties in with our kitchen so well!

I will say that we are taking a sanding break for now and will only do things that can be completed with a belt sander – ie straight lines!



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