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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Recently I acquired a mid-century era slat bench/table with a melamine top on one side very similar to the attached pics.

The finish was quite scuffed and worn so I decided to refinish it. I have begun sanding it but several hours in, I realize it is going to take for freaking ever to sand this thing because of the slats and the round rods that hold the thing together.

Does anyone have any advice on how to sand this in an efficient way?

Some additional questions:

-- the current finish isn't shiny. Does that mean it doesn't have a polyurethane finish? Is it common for certain types or styles or furniture to not have a polyurethane finish. what might the finish be? Just oil stain?

-- do I have to sand until the old stain / color is 100% gone and the wood looks fresh?

Thanks!
 

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Sanding a finish off is a poor way to strip a finish. It gets what is on the surface and leaves a lot of what is penetrated in the wood. You should always start with a paint and varnish remover and then sand. In your case where you have the melamine on the ends if there is the possibility that it may be formica be very careful with chemicals around it as it will lift formica if the chemicals run under it.

The shine isn't an indicator of what kind of finish is on it. Many different finishes come in high gloss. You have the option of finishing with polyurethane if interior and use a satin finish if you don't want a shine. You can also use a oil finish however let it dry very well before you use it. If the table is for exterior use it would be better if you used tung oil. It is more water resistant.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks Steve!

I found a pic of the table. It's not so good but you get an idea. (My phone is dead or I would take another one).

Couple of follow up questions:

• Referring to the photo in my original post and this new pic, does it look like one would use a paint remover or a varnish remover?

• Again referring to both photos, what sort of finish would you recommend? I bought Miniwax oil stain (Espresso colored) and polyurethane. Do you think these tables pictured are finished with oil stain and then a satin finish? They seem kind of dull to me, which I like. So it sounds like maybe they were done with a satin polyurethane.

Thanks again!
 

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I have often revived an existing finish rather than refinishing completely. I wipe down the piece with paint thinner to remove wax, grease and grime. I then rub the piece down with 000 or 0000 steel wool soaked in BLO(boiled linseed oil). A mid century piece often has a Danish teak oil type finish which would be a good candidate for this treatment.

Caution-steel wool soaked in BLO is inflammable. Dispose of carefully.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks Zircon.

I started sanding the bottom already and suspect I am past the point of no return. But this is very good to know.
 

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Thanks Steve!

I found a pic of the table. It's not so good but you get an idea. (My phone is dead or I would take another one).

Couple of follow up questions:

• Referring to the photo in my original post and this new pic, does it look like one would use a paint remover or a varnish remover?

• Again referring to both photos, what sort of finish would you recommend? I bought Miniwax oil stain (Espresso colored) and polyurethane. Do you think these tables pictured are finished with oil stain and then a satin finish? They seem kind of dull to me, which I like. So it sounds like maybe they were done with a satin polyurethane.

Thanks again!
Paint remover and varnish remover are really the same thing. It's normally referred to as paint and varnish remover. I normally use Kleen Strip. It's available at the box stores and even walmart. Other than professional grade removers it's about the best all-round remover I've used.

The picture isn't clear enough to really tell what kind of finish it has on it. I think you would be happy with the Espresso stain and polyurethane. Just don't put too many coats on. With polyurethane it tends to get a plastic appearance with too many coats. Two coats should be sufficient.
 
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