I have been putting this project off for a few years. I hate stripping and staining. Hate. It’s a butt load of work. But I knew when I started looking at new kitchen tables just to avoid the work, it was time to quit being lazy and get it done.
Here’s the butcher block table before. I bought it new in 2006 and chose the stain for it. But after 8 years of deep pencil indentions from young kids, and well, the color simply being out of style, it was time to update this table. Get rid of the outdated orangey-brown color and say hello to a weathered gray color.
The below photo proves how long I’ve had this table. Our kitchen has been remodeled, the chairs have been repainted blue, and that adorable 10-year old is now 16 and drives a car. Help me.
The below photo was in 2006 when we first moved into our house.
I’m just so happy how it turned out. And happy to be done.
Here are the details. I didn’t strip it. I opted to just sand it all down with my orbit sander. If the table had lots of curves sanding would not have been the best choice. But luckily the table has simple square legs and nothing too ornate that a sander couldn’t reach.
This took me about 3 hours with a 60 grit sandpaper. Sanding removed the finish and all the dents and scratches. Stripping with chemicals would have only removed the finish. I was glad to get rid of the dents and dings too.
This is so dusty and messy so I wore those gorgeous goggles and mask. Once the finish was removed I went over every surface again using 120 and then 220 grit sandpaper.
Here are my tools—sandpaper, sponge brushes, oil based stain, water based polyurethane in ‘satin’ sheen (dries so much faster than oil based poly), and a 320 grit sanding block. Not pictured is the tack cloth I used. I originally wanted to use a ‘flat’ finish polyurethane for the table—no sheen. But they don’t make it! So satin it is!
I used Weathered Oak for the main stain. I applied it with the sponge brush. It wasn’t quite gray enough so I went back over the table with the Classic Gray very sparingly, just in spots, with a rag to add a little more color. I pretty much used both of these entire tiny little cans. I will say this: stir, stir stir these stains. I thought I stirred enough and then halfway through staining with the "Weathered Oak” I realized all the gray pigment (kind of heavy and thick) was sitting in the bottom of the can. That’s probably the main reason I had to use Classic Gray over the top—the color just wasn’t mixed well enough to give me that gray hue. In fact, the can suggests stirring every few minutes. I ignored that, and once again, the chalky-gray pigment sank to the bottom. STIR! STIR! STIR!
My table is alder butcher block. Each wood will absorb stain differently. I only used one coat of stain. If your table is one big piece of wood it will look more uniform I am sure. But since mine is butcher that explains the variations in color throughout.
I let it sit overnight even though you only need to let it dry one hour. I sanded with the 320 grit sanding block, wiped with a tack cloth, then using a sponge brush painted on the first coat of polyurethane. Use long continuous strokes to go from one side of the table to the other side. If you do short strokes you will get sponge-y marks. I’ve done this on other projects and it is ugly. Let dry two hours, buff with the sanding block, and add the second coat of poly. Do not skip sanding in between coats. I have refinished enough pieces of furniture to know that sanding between coats of polyurethane is essential to get that smooth-feeling finish.
Once it had 3 coats of poly the hubs put the apron pieces and the legs back on…..
….I sanded once more, and it’s all done! Two full days of elbow grease and my table is as good as new.