How to Sand a Table

How to Sand a Table
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how to sand a table

A wooden table can last a lifetime if it is carefully protected. However nearly all types of table such as coffee or dining ones will eventually end up having scratches, stains or other types of damage. When this happens, you can easily fix it by yourself and ensure that your table keeps looking as good as new for years to come. How? By learning how to sand a table like a true pro!

By following a few simple steps and using only some basic tools, you can save a whole lot of money and ensure that your beautiful table looks as good as new. Let’s begin!

How to Sand a Table in 5 Steps

Before starting, these are the tools you’ll need:

  • Electric sander
  • Sandpaper of various grits (120 grit, 220 grit, and 360 grit)
  • Soft cloth or paper towels
  • Wood stain (optional)
  • Gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Dust mask

Now that you’re fully equipped, this is how to sand a table like a pro:

1 – Understand the Surface You are Working With

Before you start, you’ve gotta know your piece. Get to know the type of wood, the level of finishing already done to it and any other quirks it might have (such as dents that need to be filled, nails that need to be taken out and installed again, etc…).

Hand carved pieces a hard to refinish because they are too detailed. Solid wood is a better material to work with rather than veneer which tends to be thinner.

2 – Prepare Your Work Area

Sanding a table creates a lot of dust; therefore, it’s best if you either work outside or in a well-ventilated room that has a dust-collector in it (to efficiently remove any dust).

Be sure to take a look at these cheap dust collectors – you don’t have to pay much to get an excellent one. If you don’t have a dust collector, be sure to place a plastic drop cloth to collect all the sanding dust.

Remember to wear your safety gear such as gloves, safety glasses, and a dust mask. Thoroughly clean the surface you are sanding to remove any grease, oil, and dirt. Be careful when doing this though as some wooden surfaces, especially if old and untreated, can be damaged by some cleaners so only use soft ones or those that are specifically made for wood.

3 – Strip Away the Top Finish

As always, start with the roughest sandpaper which is the 60-grit sandpaper. This’ll remove the old paint or varnish layers that the table has.

Although all of this can be done by hand, the amount of time and effort that an electric sander will save you is more than worth the price of admission – plus the results are unbeatable.

When it comes to sanding corners or hard to reach place, be sure to use a sanding sponge or you can also wrap a sheet of sandpaper around your finger to successfully deal with these pesky corners.

Once you are done, wipe the surface using a tack cloth to ensure it is free of dust. You can use a vacuum cleaner to remove as much dust as possible. For a smoother surface, user the 120-grit to sand the table evenly then remove the dust and use the 220-grit sandpaper to perform yet another pass.

Then, moisten a rug using some spirit (high proof) and rub it across the table. If there is a damaged spot on the table, for example, a deep scratch, you can fill the spot with wood putty for deeper scratches. Smaller scratches can be filled by rubbing them with the meat of a walnut – this is an excellent little trick that does wonders.

4 – Apply a Clear Coat to the Table

Once you strip off the top coat and fill any scratches, apply the furniture oil which will sink in the wood and protect the wood surface. The furniture oil also brings out the natural and rich colors of the wood.

For hardwood use the Tung or Danish for all-purpose finishing. If you don’t like that color, you can find a stain you like, but as a general rule you shouldn’t redo the previous color of the table. These wood stains are available in a wide range of shades for staining the wood surface and they should be applied according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

After applying the stain make sure that you wipe away all the excess and give it some time to penetrate the wood. However, it should not completely dry into the wood because it creates an uneven appearance so after some time, smooth the surface by sanding it with the 360-grit sandpaper (which is the finest for this example but you can go higher) and wipe off the dust. Then you should apply another coat depending on the color that you are looking for (lighter or darker).

5 – Apply a Clear Coat or a Paint of Choice

After all is done, be sure to apply a clear coat sealer in order to improve the appearance of the table and further protect it from damage and wear. Depending on the quality of look that you want, you can apply any color of paint that you wish but a clear coat of polyurethane is the most recommended.

That’s how you sand a table like a true expert.


And there you have it – a wooden table that looks better than new, all done by your hand! Remember, after you are done with painting, let it dry for at least 24 hours and then place it on your favorite spot. After that, you’re free to use and enjoy your brand new table!

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