How Do You Smooth A Rough Wood Table Top! Things You Need To Know




Here are a few things you need to know before starting the actual process :-

  • Before starting the process it is important to clean the table to remove the dust, dirt, or other impurities.
  • Completing the process with a proper guideline can bring an expected result.
  • It’s easier to protect than to start again from scratch with a few maintenance suggestions.

A table is one of the most essential piece of furniture in a home or an office. Most of the things I do in a day require a table. Imagine, All the meals that you enjoy with your family at the dining table, the coffee and snacks you have at the coffee table that give you comfort on a busy day, the countless hours you spend at a study table to succeed in life, and the amazing ideas you and your team generate at a meeting table.

But what if the table you spend most of the day at is old, rough, and damaged? Would you throw it out along with all your precious memories? You may not need to do it. If you are looking for answers to how do you smooth a rough wood table top, this article is a structured guide to all your answers.

How Do You Smooth A Rough Wood Table Top

Smooth A Rough Wood Table Top

When the top of any table becomes rough, it is essential to smooth out the table. Smoothing the top of a rough table is a lengthy process. But if the proper procedure is followed throughout the process, it is possible to smooth a rough wood table tod nicely.

Don’t rush! Because these all are not everything that you need to know to smooth your rough tabletop. To get the complete knowledge about this process read the guidelines ahead and complete the task properly.

How Do You Smooth A Rough Wood Table Top? The Proper Guidelines

Smoothing a rough wood table top is a vigorous process.From rough raw wood or natural wood to a plain, flat surface may seem like a simple process in general eyes but it takes a lot of time and effort. However, it may help even a tiny bit if you follow the steps below.

How Do You Smooth A Rough Wood Table Top


Cleaning the wood before starting the actual process is essential. The wood may have dirt, dust, grease, or other impurities. If you don’t clean them first, you may end up grinding the dirt on the surface deeper in the wood grain. So, take a brush and clean the wood top. 

You can also use a piece of cloth. In that case, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. You can use both a dry or damp piece of cloth. If you use a dry cloth, you can start working immediately after cleaning.

However, if you use a damp cloth, wait before the wood completely dries out. Then start working. It is better to use a damp one because it will help any cut fibers to be visible and make it easier for you to sand them but do it only if you have enough time with you. 


If you ever thought about how do you smooth a rough wood table top by hand, sanding is the way. It can be difficult and tricky for someone who has never done it before. If you are thinking, how do you smooth rough wood without sanding? You can use a card scraper. But there are a few things you need to keep in mind-

  • It needs a lot of strength and techniques. So, Be careful. Otherwise, you might hurt yourself. 
  • There are different types of sandpapers. The efficiency of the sandpaper differs because of the grit range. First, use coarse-grit sandpaper (40-80 grit range). It will help to remove the rough finish of the wood and make it less abrasive. Then, use finer grit sandpaper (120-220 grit range). It will remove the spots left while using coarse sandpaper and give it a smooth surface.
  • If using sandpaper by hand is difficult for you, a belt sander can be an alternative for you. The disadvantage of using a belt sander is it produces a lot of dust which is not good for your respiratory system. Also, you may not have access to a belt sander as a beginner.


If the wood is old, damaged, or has gauges or holes, you need to fill the damaged parts with wood fillers. However, if wood fillers were previously used, you may need to scrape the previous fillers out before putting in new fillers. For the next few hours or a day, for an even better result, let the tabletop rest in a well-ventilated area with no direct sunlight.

After the fillers dried up, do a light sanding for the fillers to blend completely. If you have access to an orbital sander or belt sander, you can use any of those. In that case, it is better to use an orbital sander as it is more gentle than a belt sander and less risky.


After sanding and filling, if you still don’t get your desired result and wonder how do you smooth finish rough wood, let me help. It’s a simple process but there are a few things to consider. All the steps so far can give your tabletop shape to a certain level but it may not give it the durable finish, smooth finish that it needs.

Here comes polishing in the story. This step will give your furniture friend a smooth finish that will enhance its beauty by several times. In addition to the gloss finish, polishing will make your tabletop scratch and stain-resistant.

For polishing, use a wood conditioner. Now, there are a few options to choose from. Whether you want an oil finish, a wax finish, or a water-based finish, you can get any of them according to your preference. The oil-based finish is the most durable, then water-based, and then the wax finish.

There’s another thing you need to keep in mind. The durability not only depends on the type of finish but also on how many coats of finish. The thicker, the better. So, try to coat it a few times at least.

Another thing to keep in mind. Before applying the wood conditioner, clean all the dust from sanding and scraping. It is important to keep the efficiency of the sealer intact. Use a tack cloth to remove the dust evenly.

What Tools And Materials Do I Need For Smoothing A Wood Table Top?

The materials and tools that you need to use for smoothing a wood table top:

  1. The First thing that you need is sandpaper. It is used to smoothen rough surfaces. You can also use sandpaper to remove rust from steel table legs.
  2. A mineral spirit is used to lighten old thick coats of paint and cleaning equipment.
  3. A wide putty knife is used to scrape out old wood fillers.
  4. A chemical stripper is used to remove old paint, dirt, or dust from wood. It can be used during the time of refinishing a table.
  5. An orbital sander/ belt sander is an electronic device to smoothen rough surfaces.
  6. Wood fillers are used to fill holes and gouges in wood.
  7. Wood conditioner is used to give wood a smooth, glossy surface and prevent stains. 
  8. Protective gear is used to protect yourself from getting hurt during work.

With the proper use of these materials and tools, you can continue this process properly.

What Precautions Should I Take To Protect Myself While Smoothing Wood?

The whole process of smoothing wood is hazardous to health. Taking precautions is a must to protect yourself. Some instructions you can follow to minimize health issues:

Use Safety Gears :-

Put on a mask to stop inhaling dust and getting it into your respiratory system. Wear safety glasses to prevent dust from getting into your eyes even when you are refelting a mdf pool table. Put on gloves to protect your hand from getting cut by rough surfaces and harsh chemicals like mineral spirit. Wear an apron to prevent things from getting on your clothes. 

Work In A Proper Place :-

The whole process releases a lot of dust. Be conscious about your health and try to work in a well-ventilated place where there’s proper sunlight. It is better to work in an open place even during the refelting of a pool table or moving a pool table to replace flooring. In this way, the dust won’t be stuck in the room and the air would be clear enough to breathe.

Step-By-Step Instructions For Smoothing A Rough Wood Table Top

How do you smooth a rough table top? If that is your concern, the following steps are for you.

Instructions For Smoothing A Rough Wood Table Top
  • Wear your protective gear.
  • Clean any dirt, dust, oil, grease, and stains with a brush or piece of cloth.
  • Use mineral spirit to remove old paints.
  • Use a chemical stripper to remove all impurities. 
  • Use sandpaper or sanding devices to smoothen the rough surface.
  • Remove old fillers using a putty knife and add new fillers.
  • Use sandpaper or devices for a final touch-up.
  • Use a wood conditioner to give your tabletop the final finish.

You can follow these step-by-step guidelines to complete the process properly and get the best result.

What Are Some Tips For Achieving A Perfectly Smooth And Even Wood Surface?

Tips For Achieving A Perfectly Smooth And Even Wood Surface

Clean Before Sanding

Cleaning before sanding removes all the imperfections. It makes sanding easier.

Take Time While Sanding

Sanding is a difficult process. Don’t hurry and take time. Otherwise, you may make things worse. Do not put too much pressure.

Sand Enough Before Polishing

Not sanding enough can affect polishing. Polishing is the last step of the process. You can not stand after that. So, sand as much as needed before polishing so that you can get a smoother surface.

What Are Some Common Mistakes To Avoid When Smoothing A Wood Table Top?

There are some mistakes that are almost done by everyone while smoothing a rough wood table top and should be avoided. Such as:

Not Cleaning Before Sanding

It stops the wood from getting a flat, even, and perfect surface. Not cleaning the wood before sanding results in dust, oil, grease, and other impurities getting into the wood by grinding. It ruins the quality of the wood.

Not Sanding Properly

It needs a lot of attention to sand properly. Sanding on one place more than the other can cause uneven surfaces. In the same way, sanding a harsher place in the same amount as the other places may result in uneven surfaces too. So, pay a lot of attention while sanding

Not Layering Polish

Polishing helps to smoothen and prevent stains. Using several layers of polish, wood condition, or sealer is having several layers of protection.

You can avoid these mistakes while smoothing a rough table top to get the best result in the end.

Maintaining A Smooth Wood Table Top After Refinishing

It is important to maintain the top of the table after completing the process of smoothing. Some tips for maintaining a smooth wood table top after refinishing:

Maintaining A Smooth Wood Table Top After Refinishing

Taking Care Regularly

With proper maintenance, it is possible to maintain the tabletop for a long time. Be careful not to scratch or damage it in any other way and you are good to go.

Clean Spills Immediately

Spilling any kind of drink can stain a table. Especially coffee or any colored drink. So, clean immediately after spilling. Sometimes water leaves stains too.

You can follow these tips to maintain your rough top of the table after smoothing out.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why Is My Wood Table Top Rough In The First Place?

Without proper care, after using it for a few years, when it gets old and damaged, it is natural for your tabletop to get rough.

Should I Remove Any Old Finish?

Of course. It is compulsory to remove your old finish before working on it.

Can I Use An Electric Sander To Speed Up The Process?

You can but there are some disadvantages. If those don’t concern you, you can.

How Can I Fill Cracks And Gaps In The Table Top?

With wood fillers, you can fill cracks and gaps in the tabletop.

How Long Does It Take To Smooth A Rough Wood Table Top?

It depends on the person’s efficiency and experience.


How do you smooth a rough wood table top? Well, there are a few steps you can follow to get your desired tabletop. However, the steps are complicated. But if you follow the tips, you will be good in some time. But for the best result so far, you definitely need to follow the proper guidelines.

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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