How To Restore An Old Wooden Table? [Best DIY Techniques For All Restorable Wooden Tables]




Hey there DIY freak! Love to keep each piece of furniture in your house shiny and beautiful like new? Then you must be always trying to find a way to refinish a restoration table. Well, me too! I like to maintain, repair, and restore my wooden furniture on my own through the best DIY techniques.

You are guessing it right! I am an expert in this. Are you worried about your old wooden table? No need to be worried! You have already reached the right place. You heard it so right!

Let me tell you a secret. I love to repair wood furniture, and I do repair the wood furniture of others as well. Let’s explore how to restore an old wooden table with me!

Before telling you in detail, let me share a simple glimpse of the entire process with you;

How To Restore An Old Wooden Table

Restore Old Wooden Table

You can easily restore an old wooden table with the best DIY techniques. First, identify the damage and the issues, clean the table, repair the damaged areas with necessary materials, then apply finish to make it beautiful and let the finish dry before using the table.

No need to rush, buddy! You have just had a simple glimpse of the entire process. Interested in learning and exploring the entire process? Keep moving forward with me on the article!

Overview of the project-

Estimated CostEstimated DurationSkill Level
$50048 hoursBeginners

Summery of the article is-

  • All kinds of damage are not completely restorable.
  • It is crucial to repair the damaged area during the restoration process.
  • The natural shine of the table can be enhanced through the mixture of white vinegar and olive oil.

How To Restore An Old Wooden Table?

To be very honest, I always prefer easy and best ways to restore any piece of furniture. I don’t like to make it lengthy and hard. Because it can easily make anyone bored.

Well, yes! I also restore wooden tables, actually the old pieces applying simple and easy techniques. So, are you ready to learn how to restore an old wood table with the easiest and simplest techniques? Let’s directly roll the guidelines.

How To Restore An Old Wooden Table
  • Step 1: Gather The Necessary Tools & Materials
  • Step 2: Prepare The Table
  • Step 3: Repair The Damages
  • Step 4: Sand The Table
  • Step 5: Refinish The Table
  • Step 6: Apply Protective Layer

Step 1: Gather The Necessary Tools & Materials

Actually, before starting the restoration process, I always gather the necessary tools and materials to complete the entire process without any interruptions. I do this in the time of restoring a stained table.

These things are gathered before restoring the table-

Sandpaper, putty knife, paintbrush, roller, sanding block, hair dryer.Wood filler, tack cloth, clean cloth, damp cloth, wood stain or paint, sealer or protective layer, safety gear like gloves, goggles, dust mask, etc.

Step 2: Prepare The Table

Now get ready to roll the process. The first thing I do is prepare the table for restoration. I generally use a soft cloth to clean the solid wood table.

Clean the table with a soft damp cloth evenly and remove all the dust, dirt, and debris from the wooden table. Then, I leave the table to dry before moving forward. You can follow this step when restoring end tables.

Step 3: Repair The Damages

Now, the most important part. Actually, repairing the damaged areas of the wooden table is very important to achieve a smooth surface and finish.

Basically, first, I apply wood filler to the damaged areas, such as gaps, cracks, scratches, holes, etc to fill them with a putty knife. The most important thing here is you need to remove the excess filler with the same putty knife.

Then I leave it to dry properly. Sometimes when I am in a hurry, either I use a hair dryer or I leave the fan of the repair area on. Actually, it helps to dry the filler quickly.

However, if you are restoring a teak veneer table, use wood glue to fix the peeled and chipped area.

However, this is a good chance to fix the wobbly table if it is wobbling. Moreover, trust me, using shims or rubber wedges or fixing the adjustable legs works really well.

Step 4: Sand The Table

Jus like restoring the pine table when the filler dried completely, I directly jumped to the next step. What can it be? Okay! Let me answer. It is sanding!

Sanding is actually necessary to remove the existing old finishes and also to match the repaired damaged area with the surrounding surface.

The best practice is to use fine-grit sandpaper with the help of a sanding block and sanding the wooden pieces lightly.

I hate to sand any wood pieces aggressively as it makes them really rough and ugly.

However, after sanding the table I clean the entire table with a clean cloth and remove all the dust and debris so that I can refinish the table perfectly.

Step 5: Refinish The Table

However, I always stay very careful during this step, ‘The refinishing’ step. Of course, you also need to be. Remember one thing: one mistake can change the entire look of the table and ruin it.

So, with extra carefulness, I take the chosen appropriate finish for my table and apply it following the direction of the wood grain with a paintbrush.

However, you can use a roller if needed and change the color of the table as well. Sometimes, I apply many coats of finish if needed. But always let a coat of stain or paint dry before applying another.

I do this to avoid getting a sticky finish. Well, after applying each coat I always wipe off the excess stain with a tack cloth.

This is how to restore table top finish along with the entire table. But in case, if you have a cherry table, apply this refinishing method when restoring a cherry wood table.

Step 6: Apply Protective Layer

Generally, I like to apply a protective layer to the restored wooden pieces. This is because it protects the wooden furniture from any kind of damage.

I apply the varnish to gain a smooth and beautiful finish look. I apply the varnish evenly and let it dry completely, then I buff it with a soft cloth in a circular motion to get the best outcome.

However, you can apply polish as well, and guess what? I always apply polish for glossiness and extra protection.

Wondering how to restore an old wooden picnic table? Don’t be afraid, the process is totally the same. However, you can avoid using polish if you want.

Types Of Wood Tables That Can Be Restored

Would you mind if I ask you a question before you learn how to restore old wooden table top along with the entire table? Can you restore all types of wood tables?

Types Of Wood Tables That Can Be Restored

Actually, no. You can not just restore like a butcher block table. But of course, there are maximum types of wood tables that are restorable. Such as;

Types Of TablesDetails
Antique TablesAntique furniture means tables that are made of wood such as oak, mahogany, or walnut.
Vintage TablesVintage tables of different eras for example mid-century, modern, or Victorian styles, and made of wood like oak, mahogany, walnut, pine, cherry, and teak.
Farmhouse TablesMade of reclaimed and distressed wood or made of solid wood such as oak, pine, and maple.
Retro TablesThe tables from the 1950s or 1960s and made of reclaimed wood.
Custom-Made TablesMade of various types of wood like oak, maple, walnut, cherry, teak, etc, and personalized design. 
  • Antique Tables: Antique furniture restoration is actually possible. Antique tables are basically made of wood like oak, mahogany, and walnut. These kinds of tables can be restored to preserve precious historical and aesthetic values.
  • Vintage Tables: These types of wooden tables from different ears can be restored to regain their unique, stylish features.
  • Farmhouse Tables: Rustic farmhouse wooden tables can be restored to uphold the amazing, charming, and vintage look just like restoring a copper table top.
  • Retro Tables: These wooden tables can be restored to highlight their nostalgic appeal and unique retro aesthetic characteristics.
  • Custom-Made Tables: These tables can be restored, and one can uphold their original and personalized looks.

Well, how about moving forward to the next steps? Let’s go.

Types Of Wood Table Damage That Can & Can’t Be Restored

To be honest, all kinds of damages are not completely restorable. Yes! Actually, this is the truth. So, before jumping into what can you do to restore find out it the damage can be restored or not. Some damages leave their scars even after restoring and applying professional techniques.

Types Of Wood Table Damage That Can & Can’t Be Restored

However, let me tell you a good thing, maximum of the damages are restorable. Well, without wasting any more time, let’s explore the restorable and not completely restorable damages.

Restorable DamagesNot Completely Restorable Damages
Surface scratchesWarping or twisting 
Water stainsDeep gouges
Cracks and splitsDeep burn marks
Missing wood pieces if you find anyMold or rot
DiscolorationBadly broken conditions like broken table legs, or joints
DentsDifficult structural damage
Loose joints or wobbliness
Peeling or chipping (if you have any wood cover like veneer, laminate, etc)

Now, let’s explore how to restore old dining tables or old wooden tables.

How To Address Issues Like Warped Or Loose Joints In An Old Wooden Table?

Actually, in my opinion, it is important to solve the warping and loose joints issue during this procedure. Isn’t it?

I mean, when you are putting your precious effort into restoring the old wooden table, why would you leave this simple problem behind? Fixing them sounds good right?

I know it does! Let’s learn the method!

How To Address Issues Like Warped Or Loose Joints In An Old Wooden Table?

Warped Wood

  • First of all, inspect the entire table and point out the areas that are warped.
  • Now, take a clean damp cloth and leave it on the problematic area.
  • Basically, it will add moisture to the warped area.
  • Now, let the wood fibers soak the moisture properly.
  • However, it would be better if you put some weight on the damp cloth and leave it overnight.

Boom! In the morning, you are blessed with a perfect problem-free table.

Loose joints

  • Actually, it is important to check the joints first.
  • If the loose joints can be fixed by tightening the screws and bolt, then tighten it with a screwdriver.
  • Otherwise, you can disassemble the table and apply wood glue.
  • Let the glue dry completely and fix the looseness of the joints.
  • Make sure you reassemble it properly after the glue dries.

How To Restore An Old Wooden Table Without Sanding?

Do you know I can guess something that might be poking you? Can you restore the table without sanding? Surprising! Right?

No, no! I am not an astrologer. Funny but actually I have predicted it through my long-time experience.

Well, jokes apart. I can actually restore a table without sanding. No buddy! You are not dreaming or hearing me wrong. I can actually do it.

I know! I know, you might be wondering, how can I restore old wood without sanding?

No need to be worried, my friend! I don’t wanna keep any secret from DIY freaks like me. Therefore, I am exposing the method of restoring the table without sanding with you.

I know, sanding might sound really hard and lengthy. Besides, some people face problems in using sandpapers like fine-grit sandpaper or coarse sandpaper. Through, using a sanding block can solve this issue.

However, as over-sanding can ruin the table, many people are afraid of sanding the table. But let me share with you how to revive an old wooden table without sanding it.

Here is the deal-

The process is actually simple. You need the same process that I mentioned above. However, first I prepare the old wooden table. I start by cleaning the table with a soft cloth. Moreover, I always choose a clean cloth to avoid mess.

Well, here is a piece of advice for you, a damp cloth can make it easier to remove dust and debris. Then, you just need to use chemical strippers like mineral spirits instead of sandpaper to remove the existing finish of the old wooden table.

The left steps of the process are totally the same.

I am pretty sure, now, if anyone asks you, How do you revive an old wood table? You have the solution and the best one so far.

How To Clean An Antique Wooden Table?

Basically, cleaning the antique wooden table is necessary. But do you know how to clean an old wooden table top along with the entire table? Don’t you?

Actually, it includes a few steps. Let me explain these all to you, buddy!

How To Clean An Antique Wooden Table
  • Dust removal- The first step is to use dust removal to clean the loose dust and debris on the surface.
  • Gentle cleaning- However, after removing the loose dust and debris, wipe off the entire table with the help of a soft cloth and mild soapy water.
  • Spot cleaning- To clean the aggressive spots of the table’s surface rub them in a circular motion with a cleaning solution and let the table dry completely.
  • Wood conditioning- Lastly, actually, it is better to use a wood conditioner to nourish the wooden table and maintain its luster.

Basically, this is how to clean an old wood table easily. Now, chill and cheer! Clean your old wooden table using the proper methods.

What Is The Best Oil For Old Wood Table?

Now that you already know how to refurbish an old wooden table, let me ask you something, do you know the best furniture oil for old wood furniture?

Why are you worrying when you are with an expert like me? The list of the best oil for old wood furniture;

Tung Oil
This is a natural and non-toxic oil
It penetrates the wood deeply
It provides a durable and water-resistant finish
It enhances the natural grain of the wood
This is perfect for restoring antique and vintage furniture
Danish Oil
Provides outstanding protection to the wooden pieces
It provides low-sheen finish
This is absolutely easy to apply
Linseed Oil
Traditional furniture oil and perfect for old wood furniture
Linseed oil offers you an amazing protective layer on the wood furniture
It provides a smooth and warm finish
It protects the wooden furniture against moisture.
Boiled Linseed Oil
It dries really quickly
This is easy to apply
Best choice for antique furniture restoration
It brings out an impressive look
It provides an original finish look
It creates a natural finish on the wooden furniture
Teak Oil
Designed for hardwood like teak wood
Teak oil is one of the best choices for old wood furniture It provides a protective layer on the wood
It works against moisture and direct sunlight or UV rays.

How To Shine A Wood Table Naturally?

Trust me! It is really very easy like the water flaw to shine a wood table naturally. Yes, I am not lying at all! You can do it using 2 products that are available in your house.

How To Shine A Wood Table Naturally
  1. White Vinegar
  2. Olive oil

Let me tell you how I do it!

First I take a bowl and take equal amounts of white vinegar and olive oil. I make a mixture with them.

Then I use a soft cloth to apply it. I rub the mixture on the entire table in circular motions. Well, after applying make sure you buff the table with a clean and dry cloth to remove the excess solution.

Actually, this helps to enhance the natural shine of the table impressively.

Common Mistakes And Ways To Avoid When Restoring An Old Wooden Table

No matter, if you are an expert or a newbie, it is normal for everyone to make mistakes. However, there are some common mistakes that people always make during the restoration process.

But here is a piece of advice from me, it is better to avoid these mistakes as a simple mistake can ruin your hard work.

Common Mistakes And Ways To Avoid When Restoring An Old Wooden Table
Common MistakesMethods To Avoid Them
Over-sandingDo not over-sand the table, try to sand the table lightly as over-sanding can lead the table to a rough condition.
Improper stain applicationTry to apply the stain evenly and equally everywhere to balance it.
Using the wrong productsPick the right products for the restoration of the old wooden table. Because using the wrong products can bring you the worst result so far.
Avoiding structural problemsDo not avoid issues like cracks, gaps, holes, or scratches. Try to fix these issues first before refinishing the table.
Not drying the stain or finish completelyDrying the stain or finish is the worst mistake to make. Use a hair dryer or fan to dry the finish or stain fast. But make sure the stain or finish has dried completely.
Using the wrong color finish or stainIf you are keeping the same old color of the table, try to match the color with the existing color before refinishing the table. Otherwise, the table would look really ugly.

Tips To Keep Wooden Table Intake

I have shared a lot already. So I was thinking why don’t I expose some tips to you to keep your wooden table intake? Don’t you want to know?

However, these are some tips for you to keep your precious vintage piece intake after restoring it-

Tips To Keep Wooden Table Intake
  • Clean the table regularly and remove dust and debris.
  • Always use coasters and placemats before placing any items directly on the table surface.
  • Try to clean the spills immediately as they can leave marks.
  • Tablecloth is a good option to keep the wooden table safe and new.
  • Do not place the table in direct sunlight as the moisture or UV rays can damage the table.
  • Do not place any over-heavy items on the table as it is damaging to the table.
  • Try to keep sharp objects away from the table and store them somewhere else.
  • Do not drag any item across the table as it can leave scratches.

Frequently Asked Questions ( FAQ’s)

What Oil Shines Wood?

There are many kinds of furniture oil available in the market and these are designed for wooden furniture. However, furniture oil shines wood impressively.

What Considerations While Choosing A New Color Or Stain For The Table?

The most important thing that you need to consider is choosing the appropriate color and stain for the table. However, you can also consider these facts like quality, characteristics, your personal preferences, etc.

What Types Of Wood Stains or Finishes Work Best For Restoring A Vintage Table?

Actually, oil-based, water-based, gel stains, varnishes, lacquers, shellac, furniture wax, these wood stains or finishes work best for restoring a vintage table.

Can I Use Vinegar To Clean My Wooden Table?

Surely, you can use vinegar to clean your wooden table.


Hopefully, now you may know the solution to how to restore an old wooden table. Actually, the method is really simple though it is time-consuming and lengthy and you need to put a lot of effort into restoring it.

However, by following these easy steps you can definitely gain the best result so far. As a professional, I can assure you that.

So now that you know the process of restoration, what are you waiting for? Start the process and bring out a miracle!

Best wishes!
To learn more about restoring a table, stay with- Table Restore.

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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