90s Oak Dining Set Gets a Make-over

Our little dining set had taken some abuse over the years. And it was looking pretty rough with water stains and scratches, not to mention dated! It was getting to the point that I was embarrassed when guests stopped by, without giving me enough notice to iron off the water marks! So after putting it off for a very long time, I decided it was time to tackle this project. Let’s learn how to refinish a dining table together.

90s oak dining set gets a make over

Because this is the only dining set we have, I decided to work on it in stages. While my daughter was away one weekend, I worked on the table. Because I couldn’t lift it out to the garage by myself while it was assembled, I removed the top from the base. This was very easy, there were just eight screws that needed to be removed.

Then I brought both pieces out to the garage for sanding. I worked on the top first. I sanded it with an orbital sander and 80 grit paper. But as I got further along in the sanding process, it because clear there was a layer of veneer on this table!! At this point I considered hauling it to the curb – but after a little break (a glass of wine) I decided to carry on.

90s oak dining set gets a make over, Veneer


Because the veneer was still firmly attached, there was no way I was going through the effort of removing it! So I continued sanding, as gently as possible, and then applied wood filler to the little grooves and rough spots on the veneer, using a putty knife. Then sanded it again with a 220 grit paper to smooth it all back out.

Then I stained the top using dark walnut gel stain, applied with a cloth. I would have loved to stain it to match our vintage side-board, but I’ve bought so many stains trying to match that colour and haven’t found one yet!

90s oak dining set gets a make over, Half stained

Half stained

I gave the table base a very light sanding and painted it white. I also painted the lip on the table top the same colour.  I’ve never used this shade of white before and it’s my new fav!!! Not as stark as some of the whites I’ve used in the past. It’s Fusion Raw Silk. (I’m going to use the left-over paint for my coffee table!)

90s oak dining set gets a make over, Painted base

Painted base

90s oak dining set gets a make over, Painted lip

Painted lip

Then I re-assembled the table and sealed it.

I used three coats of clear satin finish on the table top, applied with a brush. I did a very light sanding, using a sanding block, between coats. It only took about two extra minutes to do this step and it resulted in a beautiful smooth finish.  I removed the dry chalky reside with a dusting mitt I got at the dollar store.

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