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Restore an oak table

Listed under abranet, Blog, hand-painted furniture, Mirka Posted Feb 02 2013

I was asked to restore this dining table – oak, badly varnished and scuzzy.

oak table before

There was only one approach that made sense. Mirka CEROS, abranet abrasives, vacuum extractor

Mirka tools sanding

The CEROS has a full complement of extraction holes, and the Abranet with its thousands of holes allows 90% + of any dust to pass straight through to the awaiting vacuum.

interface pad CEROS CEROS and Abranet

Sand with 80 grade Abranet and the thin interface pad. Tidy up with 180 grade abranet and the 5mm thick interface pad to get it nice and smooth but still open enough to accept the coating to follow.

mirka ceros sander

One criticism of the CEROS is its shape. It is round and doesn’t get into corners. Not sure that is as big a problem as is made out. The tabletop, with its slightly different level panels, was all sanded with a CEROS and the corners were sorted with a Festools handy “rasp”.

sanded oak table

Sand, clean back and dust off…

Hold on, what about those grooves, full of flaking yellow varnish? I have a Feins Tool, a multi task machine which works with an oscillating action. However, it made more sense in this case to use the blade by hand and finish by running abrasive along the groove. Simple and no accidental damage.

feins tool to clean grooves

Now it is ready for protecting with Patina wood care.


Are power sanders worth it?

I would have said years ago that hand sanding was the only way to go. But that was more a reflection of the rubbish options available for mechanical sanding.

That table top was straightforward to sort out with a high performance sander, that has been used for more than 2 years of hard work. It never misses a beat and is a joy to use. On the bottoms of the legs, which are curved, I used the Bosch delta sander. Being generous, it is OK. Half a dozen extraction holes, with abranet and a 5mm interface pad, it worked, but what a waste of effort.

Turn it on. It vibrates, has no oomph even on full blast, with all that unnecessary casing weight behind it. Once you invest in a “proper” sander, with proper dust extraction, that is when you realise that £60 is actually expensive and heavy for long term furniture restoration and general wood preparation.

A “proper” delta sander is on the list. Come on Mirka!

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6 comments to “Restore an oak table”

  1. Charles Budd

    Thanks for posting this Andy, some good tips there. I nearly bought a Bosch GDA 280E this weekend on Ebay, but was outbid! I’m glad now. My colleague is buying a Festool RO90 soon, so corners shouldn’t all need hand sanding any more!

  2. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    Yes, put your money away Charlie, get the best there is.

  3. Charles Budd

    I shall bash the Bosch idea, and let the dreams of Festool fester until I can afford one!

  4. Avatar photo Andy Crichton

    Well said, you bard of the brush

  5. Charles Budd

    Ha ha!!

  6. Mona Sørensen

    Hello there,

    I have a question for the oak furniture specialists.
    I inherited my great grandmothers oak furniture and brought it to the Uk from Denmark.
    We are now relocating to Singapore and I am very nervous about how this furniture is going to react in tropical weather.
    I don’t think it’s lacquered. My father was a furniture maker and I have never seen my parents or grandparents apply anything on the table, chairs or buffet.
    Can you give me any advice ?
    My husband comes from a tropical country and says we need to lacquer it or it will be eaten up. Really?
    Help. I don’t know where to turn – should I maybe not take it with me at all??
    kind regards

    Mona Sørensen

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