Premium Quality Zar Oil-Based Wood Stain #120 Teak Natural
Premium Quality Zar Ultra Interior Oil-Based Fast Drying Clear Gloss Polyurethane
Master Painter Select 2 inch Bes Oil Based Pain Brush
Hyde Heavy Duty Razor Scraper
With Hyde Razor Blades
Painter’s Choice Bag-of Rags
Red Resin Hook and Loop 5″ Discs Medium 80 Grit for Orbital DA Sanders
Red Resin Hook and Loop 5″ Discs Fine 220 Grit for Orbital and DA Sanders
One Gallon Sunnyside Mineral Spirits
Dewalt Orbital Sander with Dust Bag
The products listed above are simply what we used. There are plenty of similar quality products out there on the market for you to choose from.
The finish on our dining-room table might have lasted longer, but our dining-area is our kitchen nook, and we only had room for the one table. Since the big family meals now take place at our house, the new dining-room table went into our kitchen nook. It has had a lot of hard wear morning, noon and night for four years, and it didn’t have a heavy duty finish on it to begin with so we weren’t surprised when it started looking rough.
We talked about refinishing it with a coat of polyurethane varnish for well over a year before one dreary March morning I declared, “This is it. We’re going to start refinishing the dining-room table today.” My husband rolled his eyes, but then he looked up the scraper and the razor blades and began the dreaded chore of scraping the varnish off our beautiful but battered table top. We never planned to do anything but the top surface. The rest of it still looked brand new, but we were worried we might mar the good stuff by refinishing what was bad so we had to take a great deal of extra care. We never used any of the chemical varnish removers that are out there on the market.
The scraping by hand took a long couple of days. Then Mike bought some Medium Grit sand paper discs for his Dewalt Orbital Sander, and began to lightly sand the bare table top. I would never recommend sanding a table in the house, but it was March and that’s what we did. The sander had a dust collector on it, but there was still plenty of dust to spare. Mike ran the sander and I ran the vacuum sweeper right behind him.
When we had sanded it to a smooth as glass finish, I went shopping for an oil-based stain for my oak table. We never found a perfect match, but we came very close. We finally concluded there wasn’t going to be a drastic difference between our new table top and our matching set of 8 oak chairs. With the help of the O’Hara Hardware staff, I selected a Premium Quality Zar Oil-Based Wood Stain, #120 Teak Natural.
Here is where my tale takes a strange and unexpected turn. While I was choosing the stain, Mike came down with flu-like symptoms and went to bed. I wanted him to go to ER, but Mike insisted it wasn’t necessary. Friday, Saturday, Sunday, he ran a high fever and I continued my petition to get him to go to ER while he continued to refuse.
It was a Monday evening, and at that point the dining-room table wasn’t even on our radar. I was changing bed clothes and noticed blood on the sheets. I asked Mike what it was and he told me he had lost a toe nail. I started to put peroxide on the sheets, and changed my mind. “Let me see that toe nail,” I said. “Oh, my god,” I exclaimed, and I knew he had gangrene in it.
In 20 minutes I had my little family packed and in the car heading for University of Iowa Hospitals in Iowa City, Iowa. You can read the diary I kept about this drama unfolding in our lives for the next month under the Yahoo title, “Our Cellulitis Nightmare,” on the web. Meanwhile, the dining-room table sort of took a back seat to the rest of what was happening in our lives.
Our son, Marcus, and I took Mike to the hospital the night of Monday, April 8, 2013. He was admitted to the hospital around midnight. It was a week and a half before I made it back to Ottumwa and that dining-room table, and Mike was still in the hospital in serious condition, on kidney dialysis, heart functioning at less than 50% capacity, and pretty much out of touch with everything and everyone.
Hunter, though, had just had surgery himself, a tube put in his left ear, and I figured he needed some contact with his mom, and I needed to pay some bills, and catch up at home. So I took a two day break from the hospital to go home and do laundry, pay bills, and stain the dining-room table.
I left the table to dry and went back to the hospital just in time on Thursday evening to participate in the decision that was made to proceed with an amputation of Mike’s right foot. It was a scary point in our lives, but it wasn’t a hard decision to make. Mike and I had, at this point, come to the decision that it was his foot or his life. A foot can be replaced. A life can’t.
Mike had surgery on Sunday morning that week, and I didn’t get back to Ottumwa until Wednesday. Not only was the table still waiting for me, but so were a zillion other things. Luke told me to forget the table, but I couldn’t. It was something Mike and I had been working on together right up to the afternoon before Mike got sick. It seemed like I was abandoning something significant at that stage of our crisis if I just gave up on it.
So I persevered. I gave it the first coat of varnish, a diluted coat, and let it dry over night. Friends told me to get a tack cloth before I sanded it lightly and put on the second coat. So Thursday afternoon before I left town for Iowa City again, I sanded it lightly a second time, and put a second coat of varnish on it. I guess you could say I let it cure until the following Wednesday, because I packed my bag, headed out the door for Iowa City and never thought about it again until the following Wednesday.
I had lost my credit card, and I was just about beside myself over it, but one thing about sanding, it’s a good physical therapy to vent some frustrations on. I put all that angst into a glowing smooth, subdued glass-like finish on that huge table. When it was done, maybe two hours later, I used the tack cloth to clean it up, and I put another coat of varnish on it.
While it dried over night, I canceled and reordered my credit card. Thank goodness I had another one to fall back on. I took money out of one bank and put it in the one I had a credit card for. With a big sigh of relief, I started sanding my third coat of varnish to a muted glossy sheen. It was 2:00 P.M. when I started putting my final coat of varnish on. Even wet, it looked really good. When I packed my week’s backpack of clothing, I decided four coats of varnish was enough. I was calling it done, finito, misson accomplished.
It would be a week before I made it back to Ottumwa to appreciate the fruits of our labors, Mike’s and mine, and it wasn’t perfect, but it had a hard, washable finish on it, a finish that would take some hard living, the kind my family seemed destined to give it, and I could see the gleam of my satisfaction in the surface of my clear gloss finish on my beautiful dining-room table.