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Damaged Dining Table refinishing

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  • Damaged Dining Table refinishing

    I'm currently in the process of refinishing an older, hand me down dining table that I grew up with (and used for many school projects, as you'll see). From what I've been told, it's Teak, however, I am not sure. What I do know is that it is heavily marred, and the veneer on the table top has been damaged in some small areas.

    I've sanded it down, and started to apply wood filler in the hope of reducing the amount of damage that will show through after finishing. And therein lies my question, my goal was the have the table top finished in a dark walnut tinted stain and a wipe-on poly over top for protection and the base and legs be finished in an Ebony stain to match the ebony dining chairs.

    I understand I will likely no be able to repair the table to the point of great looking results, but I'm looking for any tips to help reduce the amount of damage that's shown through the finish.

    In fact, I guess I'm curious if it's just going to look horrible with the dark walnut stain in general and if I should be considering paint instead. I've attached some photos to show some of the damage.

    Any and all suggestions aside from "don't bother" are welcomed. This table has sentimental value, and while not likely going to be in use in my dining room forever, it is the table for the foreseeable future. Thanks in advance.
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  • #2

    Re: Damaged Dining Table refinishing

    If it has sentimental value and you can make it functional I wouldn't worry about making it "perfect". Here's a Youtuber that was recommended to me when I was repairing a veneered table, check out this and some of his other videos. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ff12YsoYYVw . You might consider removing and replacing the veneer top or highlight the defects as part of the "history" of the table, might be a great conversation starter.

    I see you have already started filling the defects with wood filler, I doubt you can stain the filler to blend in but some of the techniques used by Thomas Johnston might help. Sometimes hiding defects is not the best approach, filling the defects with coloured epoxy to highlight them might have resulted in an interesting result as I suggested above.
    Last edited by Doug G; 01-14-2019, 03:58 PM. Reason: added second paragraph
    bkrits likes this.

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    • #3

      Re: Damaged Dining Table refinishing

      You didn't say that it had been used (abused) as a workbench. Looks like many cuts go through the veneer.
      Start slow; wind down gracefuilly

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      • #4

        Re: Damaged Dining Table refinishing

        To the OP, don't take the following comments as criticism, they are just based on my experiences from refinishing a lot of damaged furniture over almost 20yrs.

        First the filler, if you want to go that rout, should be as dark as, or very close to, the stain you are going to use. Why? Because despite the filler manufacturer's claims that the product takes stain, my experiences have taught me that a light filler will always show as much lighter than the stained wood. There are coloured fillers available in the common wood tones and the darker you can go the better. As an aside, you can also mix light and dark colours to get close to the colour of the stain. What you want to match is the colour of the stain on your workpiece, so samples are essential. In this case, if the underside of the unit has the same veneer then use that.
        You say you want to preserve the damages as "character", which is often a really good way to go as it can save a lot of effort (much of it wasted) and frustration trying to get the colours to match/blend/work together. In this case I would likely look to a clear filler to level the surface so that the table is relatively flat but all the dings and nicks that you want to show will all be there, they just won't telegraph through whatever finish you use.
        There is another option to filling the damage and that is to use wax sticks. As this technique is more of a repair than a touch up, it is best done after the piece is sealed and colored. Larger patches of wax stick filler can sometimes show through the final coats as, being wax, the topcoats don't always want to adhere fully. I prefer to use this method for a final touch up of small dings, but with care it will work and if carefully done can be almost invisible.

        Secondly, I would use a dye rather than a stain, simply because a dye will give a much more even colour and will keep the edges of the damage sharp rather than fuzzy. A better situation would be to mix the dye with some sealer and apply that until you get the colour you want. It's called a "toner" or "tone coat" and is simple to make and you can increase the depth of colour by applying more coats. If you don't have spray equipment, or access to it, it can be more tricky, but is still doable.

        I always seal any piece that is getting refinished as one never knows what is on there from previous owners. I use Vinyl Sealer but Dewaxed Shellac is an excellent product to use and readily available. It will take a dye solution too, but for best results mix the dye with denatured alcohol and add this to the shellac.

        As you said, you could always paint it, but that would definitely hide all those "character" marks. There wouldn't be much difference in the amount of work between painting it and putting some colour, sealer and clearcoat on it. The damage should be filled in both cases, although with paint you would not have to be so selective in your filler.

        A final option which would involve a smaller amount of work but would cost more, would be to get some glass cut to fit. This is a great option as long as you don't have kids who like to bang the table with heavy or pointy objects and you don't foresee spillage of very hot liquids or putting hot cookware directly on the top.

        Those are some methods I have used in the past. They all work but the choice is dependent on what you want the table to look like and the usage it will have.

        Somewhere I have some pics of tables I have refinished by different methods but can't quickly find them for this post.

        Hope that helps (and didn't deter you from this project). Just ask if you want more details

        Paul

        Last edited by Paul O in Paris; 01-14-2019, 07:21 PM.

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        • #5

          Re: Damaged Dining Table refinishing

          I too say its teak.
          Just clear coat it and enjoy the memories.

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          • #6

            Re: Damaged Dining Table refinishing

            If retaining the original surface is not an absolute necessity, maybe you would consider re-veneering the top. It's a flat table, easy to fill and sand, and easy to apply a veneer to. With that done you can pick any tone of finish you want without worrying about hiding defects?

            ... just a thought ...

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            • #7

              Re: Damaged Dining Table refinishing

              Originally posted by bkrits View Post
              Just clear coat it and enjoy the memories.
              That's always an option Bob, but IMO that should have been done BEFORE the filler was applied.

              Paul

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              • #8

                Re: Damaged Dining Table refinishing

                Originally posted by Woodwreck View Post
                You didn't say that it had been used (abused) as a workbench. Looks like many cuts go through the veneer.
                lol, many, I mean many elementary and high school projects were completely on this table.

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                • #9

                  Re: Damaged Dining Table refinishing

                  We need an Icon for "tongue in the cheek"

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                  • #10

                    Re: Damaged Dining Table refinishing

                    Originally posted by bkrits View Post
                    We need an Icon for "tongue in the cheek"
                    We do for sure. I think they were teaching surgery or how to test sharp implements.
                    "Do it Right!"

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