How to restore an old outdoor wooden table
As I said in a previous post, today we will show you how to restore an exotic wood terrace table. Like the terrace chairs that we restored, this table also had a brown color, completely different from the natural color of the wood. It also had been protected with oil. The tabletop was built out of narrow planks arranged at a very short distance from each other. Because of the arrangement, the cleaning process of the old oil was very difficult, especially since the layers were quite thick and sticky. That was a sign that when applied the excess hadn’t been removed with a clean cloth. At the same time, the process was difficult because the restoring was not done in our workshop, but on the spot.
In the picture below you can notice the difference between the color of the table and the new color of the restored chairs, although they all were built out of the same type of wood and were finished in the same way.
Usually, when we start a restoration project, the first step is to clean the old varnish, paint, or oil from all areas.
To make the cleaning process easily:
- we first clean all the accessible areas with the belt sander
- then, we try different types of sanders (also to clean the less accessible areas) to get in the end a clean wood without any traces of old paints
Usually, before starting the reconditioning process, we disassemble the table into pieces: the tabletop, the legs and the table frame. For this project, we had to recondition the table at the customer’s place. So, we had to start sanding the wood without disassembling the table, because we didn’t have any workbench.
We sanded each plank separately, with the belt sander, with 80 grit sandpaper. In the past, we tried a lot of types of sanders (orbital sanders, sheet sanders, belt sanders), and always belt sanders turned out to be the best for cleaning the old layers of paint. Using the belt sander we were able to clean the areas faster than using any other sander. For a better result, we had to change the sandpaper frequently because it quickly loaded with oil and sawdust. At the same time, we sanded the planks only along the wood fiber, to avoid appearing too many traces.
We sanded the planks from the middle of the tabletop, taking care at the same time that the sanding band did not touch the edges of the nearby planks. It would have left traces perpendicular to the wood fiber and then would have been harder for us to remove them.
We did the same way with the sided planks. At the joints of the planks, we used the orbital finishing sander, up to the perpendicular planks, also using 80 grit sandpaper.
Another thing we did was to clean the joints between the vertical planks and the two horizontal planks. The ends and the edges were chamfered and between them, there was a small channel that had to be cleaned. We wanted to be sure that there was no chance to appear color differences after applying the oil (that would certainly have happened). First, we cleaned the dust in the channels with a chisel (the excess oil had not been cleaned well when the table was built and the dust stuck very easily in these areas). We were very careful not to scratch the wood, but just to clean the channels as well as possible. After that step, we sanded the channel with a thin and short ruler used as support for sandpaper.
For the rounded sides of the tabletop, we used the orbital finishing sander. It was very easy to clean that way.
The most complicated part of the whole process was to sand the narrow spaces between the planks. Those edges had to be cleaned because there would have been big color differences after applying the oil. We used a sharp chisel, with great care, to clean those edges as much as possible, handling it as if it was a small planer. That way we cleaned the wood as much as the space allowed. For the rest of the areas that could not be cleaned using that method, We used an 80 grit sandpaper which we put between the planks and then we sanded manually along the edges.
After we finished cleaning the countertop, we disassembled the table. The table frame and the legs were those parts very easy to be sanded with the band sander. Obviously, we used 80 grit sandpaper to remove all the old traces to get clean and beautiful wood.
After cleaning the old oil on all surfaces, we sanded the wood with 20 grit sandpaper. Sanding with fine sandpaper is very important because:
- it removes the small traces leftover from sanding with 80 sandpaper
- the surface becomes smoother before applying the oil
We cleaned the table very well to remove the dust from sanding and we applied the first layer of Danish Oil with a clean cloth.
We were careful to apply the oil in the shadow because the sun would have dried the oil very quickly and it would not have had time to penetrate well enough the wood fiber. After 5 minutes we cleaned the excess with another clean cloth and waited 6-7 hours to apply the second layer of oil, proceeding as in the case of the first layer.
As you can see, the oil highlighted the color of the wood and the beauty of the wood fiber. For us, those two reconditioning projects: the terrace table and the 6 chairs in the set were among the most interesting reconditioning projects!
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