Natural wood furniture can be beautiful regardless of time if it is carefully preserved and used with care. Certain types of furniture, such as coffee tables, usually face much more abusive use and may be stained, scratched, faded or chipped. If a damaged coffee table is of particular importance to you, or if you'd like to just use it as a homemade item, you can learn how to polish a coffee table with just a few tools and materials.
Step 1. Set up your workplace
Since you will be sanding the coffee table and raising a lot of dust, it is best to work outdoors or in the garage. If this option is not suitable, choose a well-ventilated room that you will not need to use during your paint job. Spread a piece of plastic cloth to cover the floor in the room and collect sanding dust. Make sure the room is not actually being used by anyone else during this period of time.
Step 2. Sand the existing finish
Your coffee table can be coated with paint, clear fixer, or dye and clear varnish. Any type of finish can be removed by sanding to reveal the raw wood underneath. If you're hoping to re-paint the wood or use a clear finish, you'll need to sand it off completely. If you want to paint the coffee table instead, you might leave some stains from the previous dye.
- For the fastest results on a coffee table surface, use an electric sander. A coarse sanding machine can help you quickly cut paint or varnish layers.
- For sanding along feet, jewelry, or other difficult or hard areas, use a sanding pad. In very tight spaces, you can wrap a piece of sandpaper around your finger.
Step 3. Remove all sanding dust from the coffee table
When you're done sanding, use a vacuum cleaner attachment to remove as much sanding dust from the coffee table as possible. To ensure that all sanding dust has been removed, dampen a cloth with a little white spirit and wipe all over the coffee table.
Step 4. Fill in any deep scratches or gouges
If there are scratches in the wood that were too deep to be removed by sanding, you should fill them in before opening the coffee table with varnish. Small scratches can be filled in by rubbing with a walnut or pecan kernel. Large scratches can be filled with wood putty.
Step 5. Apply a layer of dye if desired
Wood paints are available in a wide range of shades to darken your furniture. Apply the colorant according to the manufacturer's instructions; an inexpensive foam brush is usually sufficient for this task. Make sure you wipe off any excess paint, allowing it to penetrate the wood. Let the dye dry on the wood; it will create an uneven appearance.
Step 6. Apply a layer of clear varnish to the coffee table
Whether or not you painted the coffee table, you need to apply a layer of clear varnish to enhance its appearance and protect the wood. The best option to achieve durability is to use polyurethane, which can be applied with inexpensive foam brushes.
Step 7. Done
- Always use a dust mask when sanding to prevent breathing problems. Always wear safety goggles and thick gloves when working on oil-based finishes or white spirit.
- Classic linseed oil and furniture wax finishes are not ideal for coffee tables as the finish will wear off quickly with repeated use and cleaning.