Furniture Stripping a Side Table

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I found this little side table on the curb in front of a neighbor’s house before Christmas?  I placed it by my bed. It was not perfect, the top had a crack in it and the finish was old and had the look of coffee grains in places, but I still liked it – even with its imperfections. It was solid and I knew I could use my newfound furniture stripping skills and/or paint to give it a new personality.


I started the stripping process over the weekend and planned to have it completed today…

snow storm

…but a little snowstorm got in the way.  I needed to get more of the stripper I was using – CitraStrip to remove a few stubborn areas of stain. I could not get to the paint store, so the table is still a project in progress.

snow shoveling

We did not get shoveled out until the snow stopped around 4PM.  So crazy!  Since the day before it was 50 degrees and I started stripping the table outside.

How to strip furniture safely

So instead of getting a few stubborn spots of the stain removed, I had a snow day and played with how I could make the table take on its own look.  I settled on using ribbon to accent the table.  I used a glue dot under the ends in the back to hold it on.  I like the way it looks.  An easy way to add color and pattern without having to paint it on.

I may end up painting the table, maybe a sky blue, but I needed to remove the rough coffee grained finish so if I do paint the the finish, it will be smooth.

I also wanted to see what it would look like stripped.  I love the way the cabinet in my kitchen came out when I stripped it and wanted to see if the wood on the table would look the same.  I also like the mix of the wood against the white folding screen behind it and the bedding.  It adds a nice contrast.  Like I said, a project in progress…decisions…decisions…

How to Strip Furniture

supplies needed:

  • CitraStrip  – I used the spray, it is much easier to work with
  • Scraper
  • Stripping pads
  • Plastic drop cloth
  • Rubber gloves
  • Safety glasses
  • Bucket filled with water
  • Rags
  • Odorless Mineral Spirits
  • Twine – to remove stubborn stain in crevices

This table has a lot of detailed parts which make it hard to get all the stain off the first time.  You may have to repeat this process a few times to get all the old finish removed.  It is not hard, but it is a messy job.


1.  Place furniture on a plastic drop cloth.  Wear rubber gloves and safety glasses.

2. Spray CitraStrip over entire surface.  Let it sit on the surface for 12 hours or overnight.  I like using CitraStip since it does not smell or burn your skin like heavy duty strippers can.


4. After the CitraStrip stripper does its magic, use a stripping pad and a scraper to help remove the old finish.  Wet the pad in warm water to help remove the old finish.

5. Clean and rinse the rag and clean the surface to remove the old finish and stripper.

Furniture stripping steps

5.  I took the table outside to clean in off. It was 50 degrees over the weekend. Snow on the ground, but it was much easier to get into all the turns and crevices with the strong spray of the hose. Water and wood are not buddies. I only sprayed the water on for 30 seconds and then quickly dried the table.


6.  Dry it off immediately.  Even if you are not using a hose to clean off the stripper, just a rag and a bucket of water. Dry the wood well with a big fluffy towel.  The wood will look darker than it is when wet.   Place it in a dry room.

7.  Depending on how stubborn the stained finish is, you may have to repeat the process.  To get hard-to-reach areas or to get into the decorative turned areas on the legs, I used a piece of twine.  Cut the twine about 12″ long.  Hold the ends in each hand and place the twine into a crevice. Move the twine back and forth fast in the crevice.  This will help loosen the stain and remove it. If it is really stubborn, cover the twine with CitraStrip first.

8.  This step will ensure that all the stripper is removed and it also cleans up the wood.  Once the stain is removed, pour some Odorless Mineral Spirits on a piece of steel wool.  Rub it all over the surface.  Then use a damp rag to remove it.  Dry off the surface with a towel.


I placed the stripped table back by my bed.

More Furniture Stripping Makeovers



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  1. Jeremy Harrow says:

    Awesome work, Diane! Honestly, I wouldn’t expect stripped wood to look as good or be as durable. But you opened my eyes. Now, I have several ideas on what to transform. :-) Thank you!

  2. That table is Ahhhhhmazzing. Beautiful wood, looks great in the natural.

  3. I went to your “How to Paint Anything” section and got some good ideas there. Guess I should have gone there first (I’m new to your blog).
    Would a colorant work with the glaze? You mix this and that and always come up with a winner. I plan to try my mix on the inside of the doors first and look at it for awhile. Have to get my formula first.
    I go to Lowe’s at least once a week, they know me by name. I saw the light fixture there that you are working on. Great idea for a attractive light fixture that doesn’t have a attractive finish.

  4. Hi Diane,
    I have Golden Oak Kitchen Cabinets. They didn’t seem so yellow to me when we bought the house 12 years ago. Now they are really getting on my nerves. Would really like to paint them white, that would send my Husband straight to ER. Does anyone have some ideas on how to tone them down (less yellow). I thought about a good wash-down and glaze them. Can’t take on too much myself because “I’m a little old lady”.
    Ideas please.

  5. Beautiful little table! Love the flowers that you are displaying.
    What are they??

  6. Love the table-and free is great! I especially love the pastel stripes around the middle-gives it a bit of color and punch. Contrasts beautifully with the blonde wood. Great rescue!

  7. You did a fantastic job stripping it.. You did very well with giving instructions – thank you for the lesson.. I actually like the “blond wood” look of the table. It has a natural face beauty look..- great job..

  8. I like it just the way it is now except for the purple and blue ribbon.

    Why not rub it down with more oil and leave it alone.

    1. Hi Nancy –

      I have become a fan of stripped wood as long as it is not too orange. If I can get all the old stain off in the crevices, I will probably leave it as is. If not, I may end up using driftwood finish on it and then more clear paste wax.

  9. Mickey Goddard says:

    That is one beautiful table. Well worth picking up, and the job you are doing is great. Very interesting (the stripper you are using) I have never used it, but will try some soon, when I get to my dining room chairs. That table is so cute, I can’t bear the thought of covering the wood with paint. I think a wood finish would look great, only my opinion as I love real wood.
    My New Year’s Resolution: get all paper work organized, and that means over 25 years of papers I’ve been saving. It’s a horrendous job, especially as I now make all my own greeting cards, and have amassed quite a supply for that hobby. You are a very talented lady, and I am SO glad to have found you.

  10. Helen Henkler says:

    I would have stopped for this table, too. It is super cute! Can’t wait to see what you decide to do with it.

  11. I am loving the look of this little table in its natural state! I am sure it will look lovely painted…and perhaps distressed too! Looking forward to seeing the final reveal!

  12. Wow! What a great find! Thanks for the tip about the twine for tight places. It will come in handy! The ribbon detail is so pretty.

    Have a great day!

  13. That looks like a beautiful Eastlake antique table! I cannot believe someone would put it on the curb! You found a true treasure! I enjoy your talents!

  14. I love the look of raw wood, would put something clear on the top for protection. Going to try the twine tip.

  15. Where did you get your bedspread, please?

  16. Cool table! Really like the use of the ribbon…very unique! ;)

  17. Great table . . . looking forward to seeing the final finish.

  18. Hey Diane ~ I think this sweet table would look so fantastic painted. Seems to me the paint would really enhance all the curviness and detail. Crazy weather this winter, huh? Vikki in VA

  19. Joelle O'Reilly-Hyland says:

    A very simple transformation but if you look on it, it looks very elegant and pleasing to anyone’s eyes.

  20. Christine says:

    You don’t need the mineral spirits step. Water neutralizes the Citristrip. I am almost addicted to using and raving about this stuff.
    I also strip things in my kitchen (cabinets in place) and my MBR, where I’m stripping other things in front of the TV. It doesn’t off-gas like the evil, flesh-eating stuff.

    A tip for (everyone) If you have to leave your piece in warmer weather or in a breeze, cut open plastic grocery bags and press them into the Citristrip. It holds the stripper to the piece, not letting it lift up in its wonderful ribbons.
    Also, be careful spot stripping with Citristrip. It continues to suck the stain out and if you don’t do the whole piece or section, it’ll be lighter. I’ve got antique doors down to raw, beautiful, unstained wood. And they looked like your beautiful table as I was stripping them! BBQ Sauce, right! LOL
    Keep up the gorgeous work. You’re very inspiring!

    1. Thanks Christine –

      It sounds like you have done a little stripping in your DIY past. :) Thanks so much for the tip on using the plastic bags and telling me that mineral spirits are not needed with CitraStrip. I have always used it when I used the heavy duty stinky strippers and never considered it may not be needed. I will try the bag trick on my next stripping project.

  21. You said , “use the hose”, but that , did not damage the wood, with the water?
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Ferchi – Yes water and wood do not mix, but it was a super quick rinsing off. About 30 seconds. I normally would just use a damp rag to remove the stripper residue, but with all the details, I decided to use the hose. I dried it off immediately and very well so the water would not penetrate the wood.

      1. Thank you Diane, this method looks really easy. Not the one that I used to do it, damp rags=too much time.