How to Refinish an Antique Wood Table With Inlays

Lane Cummings

An antique table is truly a gift for your home because it allows you to showcase a piece of the past. Many antique tables come with inlays. A table with an inlay means it has a depression where a contrasting material rests, becoming flush with the edges of the frame. This allows your table to have interesting wood veneer patterns, mother of pearl, horn or other resources. If your antique table with an inlay needs some refinishing, you'll need to approach the matter strategically.

This table has a simple chessboard inlay.

Step 1

Dip an old 3-inch paintbrush in paint stripper and cover the antique table with a thick coat.If you wish to refinish the inlay as well, cover it with paint stripper as well. Allow it to penetrate for five minutes or the recommended time on the package. As the stripper is penetrating, sharpen the tip of your metal paint-scraper with a metal file.

Step 2

Scrape off the old finish of the antique table with your paint scraper. Wipe down the table with a damp sponge, and dry it off with old clean towels.

Step 3

Press a piece of 100-grit sandpaper to the bottom of an electric sander. Run the sander across the antique table, removing the old finish the paint stripper couldn't get off. Repeat with a sheet 220-grit sandpaper. Wipe down the table with a tack cloth. Only sand the inlay if you are refinishing it as well.

Step 4

Tape off any areas of the table you don't want to get finish on with painter's tape.

Step 5

Dip a 3-inch foam brush into a can of tinted polyurethane. Cover the antique table in a light coat. This will allow you to protect the wood of the antique, while giving it a hint of color to help show off the grain. Only cover the inlay with polyurethane if you have refinished it as well. Allow it to dry for 24 hours.