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Refinishing a Wooden Coffee Table: how to get a natural wood look

Hey Everyone!

The long-awaited project is finally finished!! I could not be more pleased with how this table turned out. With a lot of elbow grease, sweat and love, this thing turned out perfectly!

Before: so red and scratched. This baby needed a major face lift!

We thought about getting rid of the table all together and just geting a new one, but what fun is that?! Plus, I loved the details. I mean just look at those chunky legs! I had some inspiration beforehand to make this table a light, natural color for a raw wood look. I knew what I wanted it to look like, but wasn’t quite sure how to achieve it. I started out just by sanding, to get down to the natural wood – through all of that awful red/brown stain.



Step One: sanding the flat surfaces

I used a pneumatic sander for the top and parts of the sides. This made for quick work getting through the stain. If you don’t have access to this type of sander, an electric one could get the job down as well. (Hand sanding this big of a surface will take a long time, but do-able if you’re determined)


Step Two: sanding the sides

I used a few sheets of 80 grit sandpaper on the sides and it worked really well. My plan was to go back over everything with a finer-grit sandpaper, but didn’t see the need to when it was all done. As you can see, the natural color of the wood is beautiful and light. I was getting so excited about how it was turning out.

The legs, fully sanded

Step Three: sanding the legs

This was the part I was dreading the most. I was worried about getting into the small crevaces of the legs, and getting them to look similar enough. We took each leg off of the table (they unscrewed easily), and started sanding away.  I used the sandpaper (again, 80 grit) and worked in a cross-hatch pattern. I did this to avoid making marks on the legs moving in one direction, plus it provided for more even sanding.

Clear wax on the left, tan “barnwood” wax on the right

Step Four: getting the materials

I did my research and found a few different blog posts on attaining the raw-wood look I was going for. Each called for clear beeswax and white cerusing wax. I took this information with me to the craft store, and ended up switching it up a bit! I bought a clear wax, and a tan “barnwood” wax. I went with tan over white just because it was a liquid wax and not solid like the cerusing wax. The cerusing wax is supposed to fill voids and cracks in the wood, where the liquid wax leaves a coat on the entire serface. I thought that tan would leave a more natural look behind, and I am beyond happy that I went that route!

Step Five: wax, wax, wipe, repeat

This part was so fun!! I used my gained knowledge from my research to put on coat of clear wax on everything. This brought out the orange tones in the wood, which I did not care for at all. But since I had the tan, I wasn’t too worried (this is why you need to use a tan or white, to bring down the orange and yellow tones of the wood). I did buy a paint brush and foam brush to apply the waxes, but ended up using clean microfiber cloths, which I highly reccomend doing. I also want to add that when you apply the tan wax, you have to wipe off the excess, just like a wood stain. Below is a sequence of the different waxes, in different stages:

Table top is untouched, while I am putting the first clear coat on the legs and drawer
EW, ORANGE! This is with one coat of clear wax
I put the tan wax around the perimiter to show just how different the two look
I brought the table inside to see how it would look, and decided to add a second coat of tan wax. I then added another coat of clear wax. (this is after 1 coat of tan)

The Finished Product!


I love that it brought out that carved detailing – it was almost lost before with the dark stain


I am so pleased with how this project went! It turned out exactly like I wanted it to, so much so that I want to refinish something else!

Links: Clear Wax// Tan “Barnwood” Wax// Fall Decor

xo SignatureIMG_2358




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