Stain a Finished Table

I like the end result after trying to stain a finished table using a product that is designed to work over stained an varnished wood and I definitely learned a few things along the way.

Stain a finished table

I picked up this table at a local church garage sale.  I was drawn to the pedestal style, and the size of the table, and it was in pretty good condition.

When I got the piece home, I tried the table in a few locations, but the best spot I found was in the study, but it was far too light to go with the Mahogany book shelves.

Six months ago, I refinished my pine Ikea coffee table, and it was all flat surfaces so it was very easy to remove the finish using a belt sander before staining it a darker color.  This table was a bit more intricate, so it was a good opportunity to try the Minwax Polyshades product which claims to “change the color of your finished wood without removing the existing finish”.

How to stain wood darker without sanding - minwax polyshadesI had recently finished darkening the wood slats on an old trunk, and I was anxious to try the product on a larger surface area.  First thing in the morning, I was keen to get started.  I gave the table a light sanding with fine grit sand paper being careful to always sand in the direction of the grain.  I decided to try using a liquid deglosser, even though this was not specified in the instructions, and I hoped it would help the stain adhere to the table.

Liquid deglosser

Then I used a brush to apply a coat of Minwax Polyshades in tudor satin.  I followed by wiping any excess with a cotton cloth.  It seemed to dry fast so I did the wiping as I went along. The table looked better after just one coat.

Round table with one coat stain over varnish

A few hours later it was dry to the touch so I put on another coat.  Within minutes, I knew something was wrong when the finish developed what my husband, Andy, told me looked like a problem that is sometimes referred to as ‘fish-eyes’.  This can be caused from resins in the original wood or from contamination.  I cannot be sure, but I suspect it was because I applied the second coat before the first coat had cured.  Yikes!  I tried wiping it way, but it was too late.  Re-reading the instructions it recommended a longer drying time between coats – lesson learned!

Wood fish eyes

So I waited 24 hours, then got out some medium grit sand-paper and carefully removed the top layer with a light touch and with the grain of the wood.  I followed up with fine grit sand-paper and then the liquid de-glosser.Table after light hand-sandingFortunately, the fish-eye effect only occurred on the table-top and not the entire table!  So it did not take too long to get back on track.  Then I applied one final coat, and was very relieved when it dried without issue.

Finished wood table with stain over varnish

I had one other small glitch: when I bought the table it was a bit wobbly, but then the base fell off completely when I was part-way through the staining process.  I really should have addressed the problem before I started refinishing the table.  No big deal – just a few dabs of glue fixed it up and I was back on track!

It is now a much closer match to the wood swivel chair and bookshelves.

Wood table in library

You might also like re-finishing exterior light fixtures, DIY tree-house or kitchen nook makeover.

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