I bought an old table almost two years ago and began to refinish it. I finally finished it this week.
My first attempt to restore the top were a total flop. The veneer on the plywood top was just too far gone.
This is the table top right after we started sanding it.
It is a veneered top, and had water damage which had swelled some of the particle board beneath the veneer. My first thought was to sand it flat and stain it. Some of the places were sanded so much that they barely had any veneer left. It didn't look bad before staining, but those places took the stain differently and it looked terrible.
Still trying to salvage the top, I tried a faux grain with gel stain. The first coat didn't look too bad, but the second coat looked horrible. So I gave up and stuck it in a corner of the garage until a few weeks ago.
In the meantime, we sold our trestle table and began using the breakfast table. But it was just too small, especially if we had company, so I pulled out the old table and started working on it again. I really didn't want to paint it, but that seemed to be the only choice.
I painted the base black and distressed the edges. I really liked the way it turned out, but the top was another story. Those rotten spots showed even through four coats of primer and paint. Since the spots were going to show through a solid paint, I needed to go back to the idea of a faux grain to camouflage them. So I sanded off the paint and primed it using BIN with a shellac base to seal those spots.
Then I put a gold base coat and mixed a medium brown with a glaze to faux finish a wood grain on it. I couldn't find my old wood graining tool, and made the mistake of buying a Martha Stewart graining tool at the local big box store. I should have read the reviews, and then I should have ordered a professional tool online, but I was impatient. The tool did such a bad job that I had to scrape it off and start over.
I repainted the gold and this time I grained it just with the comb and flogged grain marks into it.
I almost forgot to take pictures after the first graining and the second fill coat.
It's not great, but will do until I can build a table top out of solid wood. When the sun hits it just right, those spots are still evident. I think the particle board must have absorbed some of the paint, raising those areas. I had just applied a finish coat to the middle section in the photo below.
Here's the top, finished.
And the whole table.
All in all, this $20 table has cost me dearly in the amount of time spent on it just to get it to a tolerable level, not to mention the cost of primer, special acrylic paint, glaze, and that useless tool kit. But it was a good learning experience with wood graining and I'm looking forward to doing a project with some good tools.
Next are the chairs!