Recommended finish for old oak table? - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
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post #1 of 6 Old 12-08-2019, 12:44 PM Thread Starter
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Recommended finish for old oak table?

Pretty new to wood work and finishing, so please bear with me.
I've got a small oak drop leaf side table that I stripped about 3 layers of heavy paint off of, and am looking for suggestions for what type of finish to put back on it.
This isn't a fancy table...just a utilitarian older table (1920's or 30's?) about 24 x 30 with two small drop leaves and turned legs. It's fairly light in color since stripping the paint and I have yet to sand it.

I'd like the finish to be a vintage looking warm oak, if that description means anything.
Anything recommended besides stain & poly? Is there anything special I need to do since it's been painted in the past?

Thanks for any advice.
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post #2 of 6 Old 12-08-2019, 01:11 PM
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If you already stripped off all the layers of paint and are down to bare wood, just give a rinse with TSP.If by chance, you didnt remove all of the paint or other residue, you will know it by now. Best way to tell is to wipe the surface with a rag with lacquer thinner and you will see uneven spots on the wood or other blemishes.

If all looks good, start sanding with 120 and then 150 and then 180 grit and that should be all you need.

Then just find the stain you want. You might want to bring the table top with you to Lowes, HD or where ever and try stain samples on the underside of the table where it wont be seen. When you select the color you want, just stain it. When it dries after a day or so, finish with poly by following the directions.

Don't be too disappointed if the wood does not look all that good. It was common at that time to mix several varieties of cheaper woods together during the Great Depression in the 1930's. The manufacturers have techniques to make it still look good. You wont have too many options so if you dont like the grain after the staining, leave it as is and get back on here.

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Retired woodworker, amongst other things, Sold full time cruising boat and now full time cruising in RV. Currently in Somerville, Tx

Last edited by Tony B; 12-08-2019 at 01:18 PM.
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post #3 of 6 Old 12-08-2019, 01:41 PM
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If you have a capability to spray then lacquer would be the easiest final finish over the stain.

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post #4 of 6 Old 12-08-2019, 06:00 PM
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I would recommend a traditional finish , Van Dykes Brown they used to sell crytals and youd mix your own Mohawks makes it to, but the trad finish is to make yer own ,

Next, go over them with a couple of coats of orange shellac then a coat of wax, and buff the wax to a nice shine.

Dont for get to lightly sand in between the coats of shellac

Last edited by sancho57; 12-08-2019 at 06:20 PM.
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post #5 of 6 Old 12-08-2019, 07:07 PM
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I think it’s hard to beat Minwax Golden Oak stain followed by a coat of Minwax Oil Based Poly. It comes out looking more or less like this.
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post #6 of 6 Old 12-11-2019, 09:26 PM
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If the able will not be exposed to liquids, I would suggest shellac. It is fool proof, excellent for beginners or those with limited equipment, and you can achieve any look you want. I would not purchase pre-mixed as it has additives. If you go online, even Ebay, you can purchase shellac flakes. Simply dissolve the flakes in denatured alcohol and apply with a brush or rag. The more coats you apply, the higher the build and deeper the color. You can get everything from a super blonde, which is clear to light amber, all the way to garnet, which is a deep dark color in the red family. The good thing about this is if you do not like it, or want to refinish in the future, just wet a rag with denatured alcohol and wipe it off. This was the original finish used in the late 1800's to early 1900's, beside oils. Good luck and have fun. No such thing as mistakes, only learning.
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