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Dining table with light table top and dark brown legs.

Overview

If you've got old wooden furniture that's seen better days, you'd be surprised how easy it is to restore it and give it a new lease of life. Whether it's from coffee and wine stains, scratches and gouges or peeling varnish, we'll show you the steps to bring that piece of wooden furniture back to looking like it's brand new.

Steps

1Clean the table

Use a damp cloth to thoroughly clean the table surface and remove any dirt or grime. Doing this before you sand will give you a smoother finish. 

Bunnings Team Member cleaning the table

2Sand the table

To get rid of the varnish on the table, use a coarse sandpaper like 40 grit with an orbital sander. Sand the top and sides of the table. Make sure you regularly check the grit on the sandpaper and replace it when it's worn. When you're sanding, don't forget your safety equipment and put drop sheets on the floor. 

Bunnings Team Member sanding the table

3Brush the dust off

As you sand, regularly brush the dust off the table. This is so you can see how much more sanding you need to do on the surface. 

Bunnings Team Member brushing the dust from the table

4Continue sanding

Continue sanding with the coarse grit sandpaper to strip the table back to its bare wood. Make sure you continue to check the grit on the sandpaper and replace it when necessary. 

Bunnings Team Member continuing to sand the table

5Use a finer grit sandpaper

Once you've stripped the table back to bare wood, change the sandpaper to a finer grit, such as 240 grit. This will help you sand the table back until it's smooth. Remember to always sand with the grain and brush the dust off the table.

Bunnings Team Member use fine grit sandpaper on the table

6Wipe the table with turps

Wipe the table with mineral turpentine to remove any fine dust and residue that might still be on the table. When using turpentine put on your dust mask.

Bunnings Team Member wiping the table with turps

7Apply the first coat of varnish

After the table is dry, it's time to apply the first coat of varnish. Stir the varnish thoroughly to get rid of any lumps. With a little varnish on your brush, apply it to the table, going with the grain. Keep an eye out for runs when you're working around an edge or into a join. Smooth any runs out with the brush as they occur. Let the first coat dry thoroughly.

Bunnings Team Member applying varnish to the table

8Lightly sand the table

Once the first coat of varnish has dried, give it a light sand with a fine sanding block. This will give you a smooth glossy finish. Wipe away any dust.

Bunnings Team Member lightly sanding the table

9Apply the second coat of varnish

Stir the varnish thoroughly again before using it. Apply the varnish in nice long strokes, always following the grain. Let the varnish dry. 
Bunnings Team Member applying a second coat of varnish to the table

10Job done

And there you go – a fantastic piece of wooden furniture restored to its former glory.

Dining table with light table top and dark brown legs.

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More D.I.Y. Advice

Health & Safety

Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.

When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.