How To Refinish Burl Wood Table [Beginner Friendly Guide]




An old and dull table looks very ugly no matter how precious it is. Facing the same issues? Is your burl wood table old? Is your burl wood table peeling? Do you want to redo your burl table? Do you want to give your table a new look but don’t know ‘How to refinish burl wood table? No worries. Read ahead to get a detailed explanation of all your questions.

How To Refinish Burl Wood Table

Refinish Burl Wood Table

In short, it is possible to refinish a burl wood table. Choose the suitable finish according to your table and preference. Remove the old finish by cleaning and sanding the table. Apply the wood stain, finish, and wood sealer to seal everything. Make sure to follow the steps according to the guidelines.

Rushing to start the process? Wait a minute before you do that. You have just seen a side of the coin. There is another side of the coin that you need to know about. Want to learn about the process completely? No worries, read ahead and get the solution. Let’s dive into it.

Key Takeaways:

  • Different kinds of wood finishes are available that are suitable for burl wood tables. Among them, the oil-based finish has the most advantages.
  • Certain steps are there to refinish a burl wood table. Follow all the steps accordingly for the best results.
  • Refinishing the burl wood table’s process may seem simple. However, you need to be very careful to avoid mistakes.

What Is A Burl Wood Table?

Well, a burl wood table is a table made of burl wood. Burl wood is a unique and in-demand wood. It comes from tree burls. A wood burl is the result of uncontrollable growth in trees. It is usually in the trunk or base of the tree. It happens because of stress due to injury, fungus, bacteria, viruses, insects, etc. 

What Is A Burl Wood Table

Burl wood is unique, and every slab has its pattern. The patterns are intricate and in various forms, such as swirls, knots, etc. The shapes are irregular. There are different types of burl wood table designs available. For example, burl wood veneer furniture, burl wood contact paper tables, coffee tables, dining room tables, walnut burl tables, maple burl tables, astor burl wood demilune console tables, leon burl wood side tables, etc.

Essential Tools And Equipment

Having the right tools and equipment is necessary for any woodworking project. It may seem trivial, but these things make a lot of difference.

Essential Tools And Equipment
  • Grit sandpaper to sand the surface.
  • A damp towel to clean the table.
  • A tack Cloth to clean the table surface.
  • Paintbrush to apply paints, stains, or finishes.
  • Wood Stain to stain the table.
  • Wood Finish to finish the table.
  • Wood Sealer to protect the table.
  • Protective Gear to protect yourself and avoid any kind of danger during the process.

Gather all the tools in one place before starting to work. Before you start the process, it is essential to learn about the tools, gather them, and use them in the right way to complete the process properly.

How To Refinish Burl Wood Table? Step-By-Step Process

Refinishing is an easy process. However, refinishing a rare and sensitive thing like a burl wood table is difficult. Take extra care as a little misstep will be enough to ruin the table.

How To Refinish A Burl Wood Table

Clean The Table

Cleaning the surface is necessary before any wood-working project. It removes the dust and makes the surface ready for a new look. First, use a brush to remove all the dust. Wipe the entire piece with a damp towel or cloth. It is also used for fixing water bubbles on wood tables. After the surface is dry, use a tack or dry cloth. 

Sanding The Table

Burl furniture is sensitive. However, do not skip sanding as sanding helps to remove scratches, stains, and other damage on the surface. It removes the previous finish on the woods. Use a fine-grit sandpaper. Do not use any chemical stripper to remove the previous paint or finish. It will damage the table. Be careful to sand the entire piece evenly. 

Apply The Wood Stain

It is an optional step. If you want to keep the natural colour of your burl wood table, skip this step. However, to change the appearance, you can use wood stains. For example, if you want a lighter colour, apply a lighter wood stain. You can also use wood stains to fix discoloured wood tables.

Apply The New Finish

Choose the new finish carefully. Some finishes need multiple applications. Some are fine with one. When applying multiple coats, after the first coat is dry, sand the table before applying the next coat. Repeat the process.

For single applications, buff the surface after the finish is dry. Buff it until you get your desired results. Use a soft-bristled paintbrush or a soft cloth. Be careful not to spill bristles.

Apply A Sealer

Apply a sealer to seal the wood table. Using a sealer helps to protect the table from damage. It will help to prevent scratches, stains, and other damage from ruining the new finish.

If you want to learn ‘How to refinish a redwood burl table?’ steps are similar. You can also use these steps before refinishing a table that is not real wood.

Different Types Of Suitable Wood Finish For Burl Wood

Finishes are of different kinds. Unfortunately, every finish doesn’t suit burl furniture. To choose the best finish for your burl table, get familiar with the suitable finishes.

Oil-Based Finish

The oil-based finish is one of the best finishes for any woodworking project. Oil-based finishes infiltrate the surface. It brings out the natural colour and grain of any type of wood. That is why oil-based finishes are advisable for burl wood furniture. Burl wood has intricate patterns. Using any oil-based finish will bring the entire piece to life. 

Natural tung oil and Danish oil are advisable for burl pieces. You can also use oil-based polyurethane. The only drawback is that these finishes take time to dry. Refinishing requires multiple coats of finish. If a single coat takes time to dry, you can imagine how much it will take for a few more layers. It is also suitable for fixing a rocking table.

Water-Based Varnish

Water-based varnish has lots of advantages. These are easy to use and dry quickly. These varnishes are suitable for all types of wood. It doesn’t get yellowish or fade over time. One of the advantages is that it has UV absorbents. It means it is UV-resistant, and your furniture is safe from heat damage.

A few of the most used water-based varnishes for burl pieces of furniture are Conversion varnish, polyurethane, and Lacquer.  Water-based varnishes provide a lustrous, glossy look. It is also used while refinishing a dining room table.


Wax brings out the natural beauty of any piece of furniture. Unlike water-based varnish, it does not provide a glossy look. It enhances the appearance. It is easy to apply. The drawback is, it’s not durable. Maintenance can be troublesome. Reapplication is mandatory. 

To choose the best finish among these, run sample tests. It will allow you to understand the finishes better.

Common Mistakes To Avoid 

You can do the whole refinishing process right and don’t get your desired results. It is because of some common mistakes that you made without knowing. These mistakes are:

Not Sanding

Burl wood has delicate grain patterns. Sanding is tricky on burl furniture. It is why people avoid sanding when refinishing a burl wood table. That is a mistake. Sanding is necessary to remove the previous finish. It removes all the residues from the surface of the table. It makes the surface smooth and prepares the table for the new finish. 

Over Sanding

Over-sanding is harmful to burl wood furniture. As mentioned earlier, burl wood has delicate grain patterns. Every beautiful burl wood furniture has unique art in wood grain. Over-sanding can strip the natural colour and pattern of the wood grain. Avoid using sanding machines. Use fine-grit sandpapers. Be careful not to be harsh while sanding. You also need to keep this in mind while restoring a teak veneer table.

Wrong Finish

There are several suitable finishes for burl wood tables. You may need to use different finishes depending on some things. These are-

  1. Type of the wood,
  2. Needs of the wood,
  3. Characteristics of the finish,
  4. Your preference, etc.

Consider these things thoroughly. Get familiar with the type of burl or solid wood and the finishes. Go through your preferences to decide your desired result. Choose the finish according to it.

Curing Time

Keeping a curing time after each process is necessary. It is crucial for any wooden furniture. For burl furniture, it is a must. Rushing can lead to imperfections, smudges, and other damage. After each coat, let it dry before sanding or wiping it. Curing time is also necessary for refelting billiard tables.

Now that you know the common mistakes, be careful while refinishing your burl wood table. Avoid these mistakes to get your desired outcome.

How To Maintain The Table After Refinishing?

Refinishing the table is not everything that you need to do. You should maintain the table as well, to avoid facing the table dull and ugly look frequently and refinishing it frequently also. Some tips to maintain the table:

How To Maintain The Table After Refinishing?
  • Clean the table regularly using a soft cloth and remove the dust and debris.
  • Use coasters and placemats on the table and stop putting everything on the surface directly.
  • Clean the spills or liquids immediately right after they fall on the table.
  • Don’t place any hot or high-temperature objects on the table directly as they can burn the surface.
  • Don’t place the table in direct sunlight as the UV rays can damage the table.


Can I Refinish My Burl Wood Table Myself?

Yes, you can. However, you need to be extra careful about the process. A little mistake can ruin the entire look of the table.

Is It Necessary To Fill Any Voids Or Cracks In The Burl Wood Before Refinishing?

Yes. You can’t refinish without filling voids and cracks.

Is Burl Wood Real Wood?

Yes, the difference is that burl wood is the result of uninterrupted growth due to stress caused by injury, viruses, bacteria, fungus, insects, etc.

How Long Does It Take For A Wood Burl To Dry?

The drying process can take a few days or weeks.

What Is The Most Expensive Burl Wood?

Amboyna burl is considered to be the most expensive burl wood. It is because it is rare.


Therefore, how to refinish burl wood table? It is simple. Choose a suitable finish. Clean and sand the table to remove the old finish. Apply the new finish and seal it with a sealer. It may seem easy, but you need to be careful. Burl wood tables are intricate.

Follow the steps properly to get the best results.

If you are interested in learning more about burl wood table refinishing, stay with Restore Journey

Richard Journey

Written by

Richard Journey

Meet Richard Journey, the Antique Furniture Maestro. With a Fine Arts degree in Furniture Restoration and Conservation, he’s a guardian of historical craftsmanship. His accolades include the Golden Chisel Award, and he’s your guide to discovering and restoring antique treasures.

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