Stripping Furniture Time Saving Tips

One new change I made to my kitchen is refinishing the wood top on my kitchen table. Stripping furniture can seem scary, but it is quite easy and can be done in an afternoon.

Some of you noticed the table and commented about my kitchen table after seeing it in my Easter post. 

Today, I am officially unveiling it for you.  I wanted the table top to resemble the salvaged pine tables that keep popping into my Pinterest boards.


The beautiful day made me want to set the table for dinner to enhance its new lighter look.

To help bring on the Spring vibe into the house, I bought some pale green hydrangeas and then went in search of some vintage napkins that I knew I had stashed somewhere. I found them – and even pressed them – you know I am in a happy mood if I pressed napkins.   I found them years ago at a yard sale.

Bonwit teller Logo

I call them my Bonwit Teller napkins because they remind me of one of my favorite stores I used to love to browse in.


Does anyone remember Bonwit’s and their beautiful logo?  There was one in Jenkintown, Pa, not far from my house.

I remember as soon as I got my driver’s license at 16, I could drive there by myself and browse as long as I wanted. The store was still around in NYC on 5th Avenue when I was in college, but went out of business in 1990.


These napkins will always remind me of the store and how inspired I felt browsing the aisles viewing all the pretty merchandise, color, and elegant style.

Restoration-Hardware-Salvaged-Wood-Pedestal Table

If I could buy a new table for my kitchen and didn’t have to worry about budget – this is the table I would like.

PEDESTAL SALVAGED WOOD DINING TABLE from Restoration Hardware.  Price tag $1995.00

BEFORE: My Wood Topped Kitchen Table

Here was my reality.

Painting Kitchen Cabinets

I bought this kitchen table for $150 at JC Penney’s about 15 years ago. It has served us well.  I like the shape and it is in good condition – a few dents, dings, and many handwriting indentations across it, but well used and loved.

As I am giving the downstairs décor in my home a color lift – the dark orange tone of the table didn’t quite fit in anymore.


I don’t like using chemical strippers, but I knew for the quick change I wanted,  I would have to use it.     I bought a can of Klean Strip Stripper at Lowes.

If you are sensitive to smells and want to use something less toxic – use CitraStrip.  It has no smell and does the job just as well, it just takes more time.  Usually overnight.   I stripped this table with it:

Paint and Stain Stripping Wood TIPS:

1. Work outside or in a well ventilated room. The smell with this stripper is pretty intense.

2. Place a drop cloth or cardboard under the piece you are working on.  Do not use plastic, the stripper will eat right through it.

3. Put on rubber gloves and goggles.

4. I simply poured the stripper on the table top and spread it out with a metal scraper.


It didn’t take long to see the finish start to peel – approx: 10 minutes.

I used the metal scraper to scrape and shovel the used stripper into a paper bag and then placed in in a trash can I had ready to make clean-up easy.

5. After all the stripper was removed,  I cleaned the table off with soap and water and let it dry.

Restoration-Hardware-Wood-Finish Salvaged Pine

As you can see the stripper did a very good job at removing the original stain and finish. Last weekend, I took the table outside and used fine grit sandpaper on a sanding block to smooth the surface and to remove some of the old finish that did not come off with the stripper.  It only took a few minutes.

I enjoyed reading The Restoration Hardware description about the table on their website…   Rough-hewn, solid finished pine is hand-selected, planed and sanded.   My table is solid and sanded  :)


I cleaned the sanding dust off with a tack cloth.


I then added a very thin coat of soft wax. I buffed it and then added a small amount of liming wash,  about a 1/4 cup for the entire table.

I wanted to whiten the color just a bit so that a faint white would settle into the grooves and imperfections of the wood.  I bought the textured lime wash on clearance at Lowes. I don’t think it is sold anymore. You could do the same thing with white paint and glazing liquid.


The RH table description continued to state:

….Handsomely distressed, our table is crafted of substantial pine timbers.   Mine is pine veneer, but after sanding, I can add… handsomely distressed.

Table AFTER:


….This item is artisan crafted with meticulous care. Given its handmade and hand-finished nature, variations in the wood are to be expected and celebrated. Each item is unique and no two are exactly alike.

Rough-Hewn- Table Finish Salvaged Pine

…Nicks, nail marks and imperfections speak of the wood’s age and provenance.  My table passes this test.   Check, check, check, and check – hours of homework completed, board games played, endless glasses of milk spilled, many happy memories made around it.

CARE   …Clear furniture wax can be applied to protect the finish from minor spills. Use coasters or placemats to help prevent marks or stains. Avoid mineral oil as its usage could discolor the wood. Wipe the table clean with a soft, dry cloth after each use

Before-and-After-Wood-refinishing furniture makeover

Over the weekend I took a stroll around another inspiring store, Pottery Barn.  I liked the burlap cloths that were gracing all the tables.


I knew I had some extra white burlap left over from a cloth I made for my dining room table, so when I got home, I made a simple table runner for the table.


When I do projects like this, that are of an experimental nature, I am never sure how my family will like what I am doing to something that they have gotten used to being a certain way.

Happy to report, they liked it, which of course made me happy that I went with my instinct to give it an update.

Next on my To-do list for the kitchen:


To see how I stripped a furniture hutch with glass doors, check out this post:

paint stripping tips and tricks

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  1. Could you use lindseed oil. I heard many carpenters say it’s waterproof like finish doesn’t even require coasters. Thank you. Beautiful jog you did. Thinking of doin mine.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Sallee – I have never used linseed oil, but you can and it will protect the finish. It may darken or turn the finish to a golden hue, so if you prefer a lighter tan look for your wood, I would not use it. But it is waterproof and protects wood beautifully.

  2. Hi Diane! I found your post when looking for ways to strip the paint from my dining table. I have a large wooden, round dining table that has a pedestal base and is completely painted in what I can assume is black semi-gloss. I prefer the look of natural wood like the Restoration table you shared above, so when I saw what you were able to do with your table, I was super inspired! Your table looks beautiful and is the exact color I’m hoping to achieve with mine. I’m not sure how it will go since my table is a lot darker than yours was, but I guess there’s one way to find out! I’m planning to use Citristrip and let it sit for 24 hours. I’m mostly concerned with how I’ll be able to scrape off the stripper from the rounded pedestal base…

    Thank you for your tutorial!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Beeta – Your table sounds great. With a little elbow grease I am sure you can turn it into table you will love. To remove the paint on the rounded base, use twine. After the Citrastrip has softened the finish, cut a piece of twine to about !2″ – 15″. Hold an end in each hand and pull it taught. Rub it firmly over the rounded base, moving it all around. Doing this, you will be able to form fit the twine as you need to remove the stripper and paint. You may have to do it a few times. In the grooved areas, place the twine in the curves or grooves and move the piece of twine back and forth, until the paint is out. Once you have it mostly removed, use steel wool to get make sure all the paint is gone an to smooth the finish.

      1. Thank you for the great suggestion, Diane! I really appreciate it. :)

  3. mary wilson says:

    Love the table. Thanks for the information. We can’t wait to make over our table. Please share the color you choose for the base.

  4. I remember Bonwit s well. I made purchases there often because I loved their bags,

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi DiB- Same here… I used to have one of their hatboxes, but over the years I am not sure what happened to it. Whenever I see the violets, I automatically think… Bonwits :-)

  5. Rita O'Dwyer says:

    We have a veneer table I’d like to strip, but am worried about the veneer. Did you remove the veneer on your? If so, how? Is it difficult to remove? Thanks. Would appreciate any tips you could give.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Rita – I did not remove the veneer. After the stripper, I sanded the surface smooth and then added the white and clear wax. If your veneer is loose, you should use wood glue to secure it first, then use the stripper and wax. Wax is a good thing to protect a table top, better than poly. If you get the surface marred, you simply can rub it out and add wax over the area. If you get a mark on a polyed surface and try to fix it you will never be able to level the poly. It will lay on top of the existing poly finish and you will see the ridges where the new layer stops and starts over the original layer.

  6. What type of glazing liquid do you recommend?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Candace – I have used many and have never been disappointed by any of them. Valspar and True Value are two that I am currently using. In most home improvement or stand alone paint stores have a faux finishing area/aisle. You will find the glaze there. Ralph Lauren used to make one that I used a lot. Craft store brands are good also, but they usually come in small size bottles. As long as it is a creamy white color and stirs easily – it will be fine to use.

      1. Linda Magee says:

        Diane I’ve been researching how to get natural look back t o my Restoration Hardware table. I just bought one at a RH outlet store that had a large water stain on it. I sanded the top down so now I have to decide on what to do with it. I have the natural salvaged pine trestle table and not sure what to do with the finish. I like your idea adding the white in the grooves and knots throughout the top. Any ideas would be helpful.

  7. Hi – Great table! Have you used clear furniture wax without the liming? I have a similar table and want the look of resto’s. Thought I had to stain it clear first but looks like I don’t. First timer so thanks in advance!!

  8. Beautifully finished table, well done you have done an amazing job! And your table setting is divine, what are the flowers called? They are super pretty :)

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Jodie – They are white hydrangeas. They have a slight light green color to them, especially when they are not fully in bloom.

  9. Hi! love your table! What soft wax brand did you use?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      I like Fiddes & Sons the best. I use the clear or natural. You can buy it on Amazon. I have used Johnson’s Paste wax with excellent results, too. Johnsons is less expensive, but does need to be buffed harder to bring up the shine. Fiddes & Sons buffs to a shine right away.

  10. Diane,
    Your table is lovely. I am out in the garage today trying to strip a solid oak trestle table that I found on consignment. I’m having some trouble with it, so I came in to google for some ideas and came across your post. I applied two coats of Citristrip (the orange stripper) from Home Depot. Several areas have stripped clean, but there are many orangey, gummy areas where it is being stubborn. Tried sanding, but those areas just gum up on the paper. Maybe I’ll get the chemical stripper you used…I wonder if it’s stronger and can cut through the “gunk” better? Anyway, just seeing your gorgeous table is motivation to keep trying! Thank you for sharing. You have a fantastic blog!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Michelle – How long did you wait? You may have to re-coat a few times until it all comes of. You can try using a wet steel wool pad or an Brillo Pad to get more of the gunk off. If it won’t budge, a regular stripper will do it. KleenEZ I think is a heavy hitter. You can get it at any home improvement store. It will burn your skin so wear skin and eye protection. It smells awful,too. Maybe use the spray can of it. Easier to apply and since you will be spot treating, it won’t be so messy or smelly. Best of luck with your table.

  11. can you strip limed oak chairs to colour them to like an oak colour what would happen

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      hi Katrina -You can strip paint or a finish off of most anything. If you want them to look natural oak with no liming, just strip the liming wax off. It may take some good chemicals and some muscle to get it out of all the grooves in the furniture, but it can be done.

  12. sheryll, about washing burlap, i made curtains for my sisters livingroom out of burlap. i wanted to get the yicky smell out of them and googled about washing burlap. most every blog said do not wash, but i talked to the fabric people at joann and they said that you can. so… before i ever cut it, i turned both ends under twice and sewed them using larger stitches. i had to wash the stuff three times before i thot it was good enough, then dried it in th dryer. i had to iron it and of course it was not totally as smooth as original it was wonderful. i have used the extra on little projects and it is great. so, yes, you can wash burlap without a huge mess. there was only a tiny bit of fiber like stuff in my washer, and th lint filter had a little bit on too. when ironing, you could try a damp presscloth, that mite help alot too. but everyone compliments her curtains.

  13. Thanks for the dining table primer! (No pun intended…) I too have a JC Penny table with nice bones I’d like to strip and lime. My table surface seems a wood-look plastic or laminate, though…Did yours? Thanks!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kat – My table has a wood veneer, not a laminate. If yours has a laminate or wood look plastic you won’t be able to change it except with paint. Did you test a small section to see if it is wood or not?

  14. Kimberly @ The Brown Eyes Have It says:

    Wow, it’s beautiful! Your hard work paid off and your linens and everything make the perfect spring setting.

  15. Wow, a lot of work, but it turned out wonderful! I have some furniture that needs help, and I plan on painting all of it, but seeing this has me rethinking…maybe I should stain some? I’ll have to think on this.
    Debbie :)

  16. Sheryll & Critters. says:

    Hi Diane,

    Of course it is beautiful. Everything you redo or make from scratch is gorgeous. If I was rich I would fly you here to do little things for me… seriously.

    I love those linens.

    Oh, I have a question. Have you washed your burlap yet? Does it wash? I used to manage the Drapery & Upholstery Dept at Hancock Fabrics in Atlanta and everytime I had to cut burlap for someone, I could not breathe the rest of the day. My nose just went nuts from the fibers.

  17. Hi Diane

    Your table came out so nice. I just recently got the urge to sand down my table top and I actually stained it with a color stain called Aquarius from Sherwin-Williams. It came out very nice and I am very happy with it. Ive had several compliments when people come over and visit. I love your website and you have some great ideas that I like to try out. Thankyou for the inspiration to get things done.

  18. Oh what a fantastic makeover!! I am a new follower of your blog thanks to Cristy….from 11 Magnolia…
    I went to her blog re kitchen update and she hi lighted your section on adding trims.
    Love the beautiful kitchen remodel.
    I’m in the process of doing mine……

    Now I wonder if hubby would let me strip our oak table…..

  19. Sue Scanlon says:

    Your “BonWit Teller” pattern reminds me of my Mother. She loved the store in Jenkintown. I remember going with her may times. I have an umbrella in a similar print from her collection. As a matter of fact after my Dad died, she redecorated her entire bedroom in violets. Thanks for the memory!

  20. I absolutely love it!! I have my great grandmother’s dining room suite and while I love it, it has seen its better days. I am debating on refinishing it but I am Hopefully from all the post I have been reading of people refinishing furniture I will feel comfortable redoing mine.

  21. Magali@TheLittleWhiteHouse says:

    I love the “new” table. It’s amazing what difference it makes.

  22. Your wonderful napkins bring back memories of my early days, and a dress I loved. It wasn’t too stylish–it was the bunches of violets on a pale violet background that I loved.. I left Boston’s Bonwit Teller (oh, that lovely glass display case out front!) for another life. That place was pure class.
    I adore your napkins, and your ability to lift the descriptions of an overpriced table and apply them to your own table with all its memories.

    Darn, I wish I’d kept that dress, the fabric would make plenty of napkins!!!!

    This weekend I’m working on a stripped and sanded table top that looks much like yours. Hoping for decent weather and no wind. You are so brave to do that stripping job inside. A friend sanded mine down to save the mess of stripping. Just can’t face that ever again.

  23. Stephanie Durdan says:

    Fantastic job! Thanks for the tutorial.

    I began stripping my dining room buffet and hutch a few months ago. The hutch is done but the buffet. Ugh! The turned legs are not fun. lol I’ve stashed it away until the urge returns to tackle it again. :-)

  24. Diane, I love everything you do and this is no exception. Where do you get all your inspiration for projects? You make them all appear so effortless yet I know you put alot of work into each and every one! When I grow up I wanna be like you!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Kim – It is just the way my brain is wired. I am not good at many other things: anything dealing with numbers, technical, science, and academic stuff. That is a struggle for me. My brain works on the other side – visualizing and creating. I don’t have to work at it, I see it – the ideas start flooding my brain – it is the way my brain does math. It says look at this pretty thing – add this to it, oh and then subtract that..kind of thing :)

  25. Maggi Barth. says:

    Your table is beautiful! Stripping can be so much work but so worth it-the effect looks so expensive. I don’t know if the wax you mentioned to lime wash it is locally available but I did a similar look and got my liming wax through Amazon…also it sometimes helps to enhance the liming to open the pores of the wood with a wire brush before adding the wax. The white than settles nicely into the grain.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Maggi – Thanks for sharing this information. The wire brush – smart! My table was pretty smooth and I wondered how some of the tables I was Pinning (Ballard Design one in particular) got all the white into the wood without it being just washed over. I will be trying this soon on another piece. XO

  26. I hate furniture stripping, but this look is all the rage now and you did a wonderful job.

  27. Love, love, love the table! I’m thinking the base needs to be white – Annie Sloane, maybe. P.S. I also am a Bonwit Teller fan and have an old hat box of theirs that I still enjoy that has the pretty lilac flowers.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      I used to have a hat box :( Wish I still had it. It would look so nice on my closet shelf.

  28. I just spent Monday sanding and priming my dining room table for a fresh coat of paint. Now, I’m thinking I’m headed to the store for some stripper. LOVE your table, Diane!

    Jenna @ Rain on a Tin Roof

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Jenna – I usually head down the painting path as I dislike stripping furniture, but wanted that salvaged pine look. Turned out table tops are pretty easy to strip since they are flat. I have a cabinet that I am thinking of stripping next. I will see how hard it will end up being with more vertical surfaces and lots of small details. Let me know how your table turns out.

  29. Joanne B. says:

    I remember the name Bonwit Teller as well, but i think I was too young and it was too fancy a store for me at the time! Love your ‘new’ table and love the fresh decor you set it with! I think it is just as beautiful as the RH one that cost $1850. more than yours! I think for that much money you could write your own fancy description of your table, which is all the more special because of the history you have with it! We have a hunky solid oak pedestal table that is about 25 years old and if it wasn’t for the size of it- 48″, 2 leaves, the chunky pedestal, 4 chairs- to lighten it up would be a major project that I am just not ready to face. I used to think I will just redo the top which is getting a little worn, but now, after seeing the RH one, me thinks I will leave her just the way she is and embrace her ‘wrinkles and crowsfeet and laughlines’!(the table’s AND mine!) Just lovely for spring!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Joanne – I loved going into Bonwits and browsing. I never bought anything – just got lots of free style inspiration :) Your table sounds fantastic – wrinkles and all. She sounds like she will be giving your family a place to gather for a long time to come.

  30. I love the way the table looks now!

  31. LOVE those vintage napkins….one of my favorite color combinations.

  32. oooo – love! I have a round oak pedestal table with an orangey undertone. It’s solid wood – wonder if this would work for my table?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Crystal – It is worth a try. Can you test out a small section on the underside to see?