Re-purpose to Craft in Style, Part 2: Stripping

table sanding

So in my last post, I found the perfect dining room table to transform into my crafting table. Below are the steps to help you strip the piece you find back to the bare wood.

Wanting to be environmentally responsible, I decided to use sand paper & elbow grease instead of the chemical strippers I have used in the past. After a few futile attempts, I realized elbow grease was not enough and added an electric sander to the mix.  Oh what a difference. As I sanded different areas, I realized that while the table was solid wood, it was not all the same wood — it was just stained the same color.

Here are some easy steps on how to strip your piece.

What you’ll need:

  • Lead tester (if the wood has been painted)
  • Sandpaper 60, 80, 120 & 220 grit (sheets, blocks & for an electric sander)
  • Electric orbital sander
  • Mask
  • Work gloves (I prefer leather)
  • Drop cloth (canvas can be used over & over)
  • Safety glasses
  • Tack cloth

OK, it looks like a long list, but you can pick everything up in a quick trip to a home improvement store. The only big expense is the sander, but it is worth its weight in gold because it will save you time & tons of energy.

001   table stain

Once you have everything, get your work space together. I prefer to work outside or right inside the garage door. Outside you have the best ventilation and don’t need to worry about the mess so much. Outside I also get to count my oversize sunglasses as safety glasses!

  1. Open your piece completely and dust it off
  2. Remove external hardware
  3. If painted, follow the steps on the lead tester –super easy
  4. If it’s lead, STOP! I have no idea what to do
  5. If it’s not lead, do a happy dance and get your sander ready with 60 or 80 grit paper (60 for paint & heavily varnished pieces — 80 for light varnish)
  6. Sand entire piece, checking paper often & changing out as needed
  7. Wipe the piece down as you go to check your progress through the years of build up
  8. Step up to the 120 grit paper once you have sanded off the old finish
  9. Wipe off & feel the surface often to track progress & ensure consistency of your work
  10. Step up to 220 grit paper (I recommend switching to hand sanding at this point)
  11. Wipe off & feel the surface often — you’re looking for a smooth, satin finish
  12. Wipe down the entire piece with tack cloth to remove all residue

Once you’ve removed all residue, you are done stripping. Reducing it into steps makes it seem quick, but honestly it is a long process, so dedicate a few solid days to it.


In the next post, I will walk you through staining and oiling the piece.

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