Turn the Tables

old table

With a little elbow grease and a lick of environmentally friendly paint, you can easily give an old table a brand new lease on life.

Hard Labour  4/10 

Skill Level  5/10 

Time Needed  ±3hours (excluding drying time)


The wooden tabletop was beautifully restored using a natural product specially designed to seal and protect the wood against the sun.

This weathered outside wooden table needed some tender loving care!

Shopping List

  • one old table (or similar wooden item)
  • wood filler
  • undercoat and water-based enamel
  • clear varnish


  • drill, combination countersink drill bit
  • router
  • plane
  • sander
  • paintbrush and foam roller

Get Started

1  Remove old varnish or paint with a sander rather than a harsh paint-stripping product. Also, sand the old ‘dead’ top layer of weathered wood to expose the beauty of the wood underneath.

2  A good multi-sander will allow you to sand any crevices and should generally make the job easier. If you find that you need to remove more surface material than you originally thought, you may need to use a belt sander first. At this stage, you can also give the legs of the table an undercoat.

3  The tabletop looked a little too wide for the base, so we planed the long sides down by 5mm to make it a little narrower before using a router and profile bit on the edges to give the tabletop a whole new look. Once you’ve finished sanding, fill any blemishes with wood filler – we matched the colour of the wood with Alcolin Sapele-coloured wood filler. Once dry, sand these patches, as well as any rough edges, to a smooth finish.

4  Apply two to three coats of clear varnish to the tabletop in long even brush strokes, and paint the legs in the colour of your choice, using an enamel-based paint.


It’s a good idea to thin the first coat of varnish so that it penetrates the wood, especially if it’s dry and hasn’t been treated for some time.

Once banished to the backyard, the table is now a stunning feature on the front patio

Ashley says  ‘Seeing potential in old furniture is not always easy – but just take the time to look at a piece long enough and its soul will show through…’