With a strange paste and layers of paint, this table looks almost unsalvageable. But Laura was determined to replace her card table on her student budget, and $5 was the right price. Cut to a week of sanding and staining, and you won't believe how good it looks:
While in school, I move home for the summer, and the only place I have to work on projects is in my parent's garage; because of that, I try to finish as quickly and efficiently as possible so I'm not taking up their space for long periods of time. This table took me about a week, working around my internship.
I began with the legs, which aren't shown in the before picture. There was at least one layer of yellow paint on the entire thing (but I found later that there was also a layer of white paint beneath), so I decided to try using paint stripper, especially because the tabletop had some sort of thick dried paste on it. The stripper took most of the paint off the legs, but that was with an abundance of scraping and multiple layers of paint stripper. I then sanded them with an electric sander, beginning with 80 grit sandpaper, then moving to 120 grit and finally 220 grit. I put the legs aside then and moved onto the tabletop.
I'm thankful for the paint stripper, because even having used that to get the thick paste off, it was still many hours with the electric sander before I had a stain-able surface. However, I noticed after applying wood conditioner that there seemed to be white paint still deep in the grain of the wood. Still being a stain novice, I applied the first layer of dark walnut stain only to find that the white paint that was stuck in the grain was very noticeable (for some reason I thought maybe it wouldn't show). So, I sanded the tabletop down again and dug deep into the grain to remove all traces of the white paint.
I then realized I hadn't sanded the legs completely because white paint was noticeable on them as well, so I re-sanded each of those. After that, I put two layers of stain on the wood and two layers of polyurethane. Now it's time to find matching chairs!
When in doubt, keep sanding.
Thank you Laura!