Project: Formal Dining Room Table

I didn’t want to spend big bucks on a room and piece of furniture that was seldom used so I was lucky that I received a free dining room table from a relative. It wasn’t a family heirloom but it was free, and you can’t beat free!

I’m guessing it’s from the 1940’s era. The top and sides are veneer and the legs have a nice half circle effect that is appealing as well as some decorative molding (see corners). I had a carpenter make a new, unfinished table leaf ($100) to replace the one that was long missing so now the table can sit from 6 to 8 people.

table surface
table surface

Overall, the table was in pretty poor condition, with an irregular stain, watermarks, and chips to the veneer. We repaired the damaged veneer on the tabletop sides with a X-acto knife cutting out the damaged area to a rectangle. Veneer trim (Red Oak) was cut to fit and then glued and clamped to fit. The repair was lightly sanded to a smooth surface and the area painted black.

veneer repair

We also glued down veener on the edge of the table that had started to peel up.

When using clamps be sure to use a scrap to take the initial pressure from the clamp foot or you might form an unwanted impression into your project.

You can see, left, the sanded tabletop has an unevenly colored surface which I had to deal with.

distressed table legsThe legs and tabletop sides were painted black. They were sanded back for a distressed appearance; remember to sand prominent areas where natural pressure and wear would occur from use.

Cabots Natural Walnut stain was rubbed in and wiped off. This darkened the newly sanded areas making it look more aged.

For the tabletop, I first tried chemically stripping the surface but that wasn’t very effective. I resorted to the Mouse Sander with a fine grit. Anything rougher and I was liable to rip or gouge the veneer.

I went with three rubbed in coats of Cabot’s Natural Walnut stain, fine sanding with a tacky cloth between coats. Finally, I coated with rub on polyuretane, gloss coat, and did three more coats, handsanding lightly and using a tacky cloth in between sessions.

Golden Oak stained tabletop

finished dining room table

Price: Table ($0); extra leaf ($100); leftover black paint, sanding paper, stain, tacky cloths ($25), 6 dining room chairs ($360). Wow! I was really pleased with the finished result and couldn’t be happier!