For those that haven’t followed the blog for very long, today I’m recapping my process for refinishing a curb find coffee table.  Easy steps to follow and links to the products I use and recommend included.  It’s your one-stop-shop to take a curb find to fab-u-lous!

You’re not going to believe this…

I can’t believe this…

I forgot to take before photos!!!

Oh my gosh – I am the WORST blogger ever!

I did however take a time-lapse video of the sanding process, so you get a brief look at how ugly and marked this curb-find coffee table was.


*This post contains Amazon affiliate links to products I use and recommend.  For full affiliate disclosure, please see sidebar or bottom of the page.

My friend, and neighbour, Tom found this SOLID WOOD coffee table someplace and asked if I would refinish it for him.

Tom has magical resources – I have no idea where he gets all of these wood pieces from, but he always seems to find the best stuff.  This coffee table is no exception…. no veneer, all wood.   (swoon!)

If you’ve followed along for any period of time you’ll be familiar with my refinishing process, but for any newbies that clicked over to see the pretty flowers from social media I’ll recap:

Refinishing a curb-find coffee table

  1. Check to make sure your project is wood and not a veneer.  You can sand both, but you have to sand much more gently on a veneer or you will go right through it to the MDF below.
  2. I start with a 60 grit sandpaper on furniture that isn’t antique or heirloom quality.  You can start with 60 grit on anything, but you run the risk of deep scratch marks on older, more dried out woods.
  3. Using a random orbit sander – my DeWalt is my favourite of all the ones I’ve tried – move slowly from side to side with the grain of your piece.  By moving slowly, you ensure a more even finish with no ‘lows’ here and there from spot sanding.
  4. After your 60 grit sandpaper I move to 120 grit (or for antiques I start with the 120 grit).  Again, move slowly from side to side applying equal pressure all the way along.  My time-lapse video shows about 40 seconds of work, but in actual fact the sanding you see took 40 minutes.
  5. I jump from 120 grit sandpaper to 220 grit – still on the random orbit sander.  Don’t use too much pressure here or you’ll leave “swirl marks” in the wood. The idea at this point is really more of a polish than a sanding as all of the previous stain should have been removed by now.
  6. Clean the coffee table off with a slightly (barely) damp cloth to remove any sanding residue and then I swept out my garage to get as many sanding particles out of the air as possible.
  7. I like to use a pre-stain wood conditioner at this point for a couple of reasons;
    1. it will show if there are any swirl marks in your piece and
    2. it will give extra moisture to those areas that are more dried out so that the stain is later absorbed more evenly.  It might seem like a needless step in refinishing a curb-find coffee table, but if you get dark patches here and there from skipping this, you’ll wish you’d spent the extra few dollars instead of the extra time sanding everything back down.
  8. Apply your stain – in this case Espresso – in even strokes with the grain of the wood.  Leave it set for at least 5 minutes (longer if you want a darker shade) before wiping off with a clean, dry cloth.
  9. Wait 12-24 hours and apply a second coat if you like.
  10. Wait 24 hours and apply Varathane Triple-thick (my absolute FAVOURITE finish) with a paintbrush, moving with the grain of the wood.  After you’ve applied a few strokes, lightly drag a foam paintbrush over top to smooth out and erase your brush strokes.   I have tried applying the Varathane triple thick polyurethane with the foam paintbrush, but I find it is more difficult to spread and/or the coats are too thin.  A paintbrush delivers an even coating, is easy to move around and brush strokes are easily removed afterwards.

Refinishing a curb find coffee table

The grain of this table made absorption of the stain vary, but it gives the table depth and movement.

Refinishing a curb find coffee table

I went with a satin finish, but the Triple-thick comes in semi-gloss, gloss and matte as well.

This last step is optional, but I HIGHLY recommend it;

  1.  after 12-24 hours, gently sand your curb-find coffee table with 320 grit sandpaper (by hand).  Use a tack cloth or a barely damp clean cloth to remove the sanding residue (a white powder at this point) and apply a second coat of Triple-thick.

Each coat of triple -thick is (obviously) meant to replace coating your project with three coats of any other finish.  Having written that, coffee tables tend to see a lot of wear and tear and having the extra coat (equivalent of 3) will only make it more durable and long-lasting.  Apply with a clean paintbrush and then smooth out your brushstrokes with a foam paintbrush while still wet.

Refinishing a curb find coffee table

You can sand again with an even finer grit sandpaper and repeat if you want, but I find this to be enough for a gorgeous, almost perfectly-smooth, finish that will last for years.

Refinishing a curb find coffee table

This curb find coffee table isn’t mine, but I couldn’t resist a little staging in my family room to show you how beautiful it looks.

Refinishing a curb find coffee table

Click back to the video to see the cherry-coloured, marked table I started with.  Lot’s of damage, but nothing a bit of elbow grease couldn’t overcome.

Refinishing a curb find coffee table

If I were to guesstimate, I’d say this coffee table is made up of about (10) 1″ x 3″ x 8′ boards cut to 45″ long and laminated together.  Then another (4) 1″x 3″ x 6′ boards to make up the legs….

That’s roughly $120 CDN and a fair amount of labour to build a new table like this one.  (not including the finishing process)

Clearly, refinishing a curb find coffee table is a much easier and inexpensive way to go.

Refinishing a curb find coffee table

Refinishing a curb find coffee table

Refinishing a curb find coffee table

It looks so good!  The finish is actually a fair bit darker than these “staged” photos show – it’s closer to the finish before I brought it inside and put flowers on top – but I had to up my exposure to get a photo that showed the grain over the depth.

Refinishing a curb find coffee table

Refinishing a curb find coffee table

So perfect for a Fall vignette!

Refinishing a curb find coffee table

Give it a try!  I had no experience or practice or training before I started and each project gives me a bit more confidence.

Besides – if it’s a curb-find, you’ve got nothing to lose!

Have a great one!

Times are tough so once again I will be selling my nudes... $5 to get one, m $25 NOT to get one


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