Maple Dining Table Refinishing

This restoration project is for a maple dining table which opens up to accept one leaf. It has Queen Anne style legs with padded feet and is in great structural condition.

The table is just part of a matching dining set made of solid maple. The set also consists of six chairs and a hutch. Although the set is not considered antique, the owner did have a sentimental attachment, and wanted the table refinished.

Maple table top ready to refinish

Why Refinish?
It was decided to refinish the table because the existing finish was badly worn and unsightly. It had deep scratches, a few stains, and the finish was worn through in some areas.

Touch up and polishing just wasn’t going to cut it on this job. The economical treatment was to refinish the top and leaf.

The color and finish on the apron and legs was in much better condition. They would just be cleaned and polished to revive their existing finish.

Restoration began by removing the old wood finish from the table top. It was then sanded by hand with 120 grit to remove some of the residual stains. A final sanding was completed with 220 grit. The 1st photo above shows these steps completed.

Refinished maple table with leaf

A wood stain was then applied to match the top to the apron and legs. This top is made of several individual boards glued together. As is usually the case, they didn’t want to all take the stain the same. Some were lighter and some had dark blotches. It took some adjusting and blending, but I finally got them to match nicely.

After the stain was thoroughly dried, the top was sealed with three coats of lacquer. This lacquer finish was rubbed in-between each coat and again after the final coat. Then waxed with 0000 steel wool. All to create a traditional hand rubbed wood finish.

Maple table top with new wood finish

Delivered and assembled just in time for Thanksgiving, this refinished dining table was surrounded with admiring guests and a proud owner.


  1. Sue says

    what color stain did you use on the maple. It is beautiful. I am in the process of having my maple dining room set restored and the restorer put minwax colonial maple on one chair for me to approve. It is way to orange…I just want it restored to the color it was, which looked like the stain you used. Can you help me pick the right color. It is a 1970 maple set. Thank you. Sue

    • says

      Hi Sue,
      The maple table I restored had a combination of stains and japan colors. Maple can be very dense and tight grain, which makes it sometimes difficult to get a specific color. Naturally it can go orange like yours did. Then when you try a darker stain it bites in and gets either too dark or blotchy. That’s why I used Japan colors on that job.

      I would recommend taking a look at Zar stains. Also oil based like Minwax but some of their colors are thick, and act like Japan colors. I’m including a link to their color chart below for you to look at. Their samples look to be on oak and pine. You may need to mix some together to get the color you want.

      Their Chestnut with a little Amber Varnish would be a nice mix to try. Most hardware stores carry Zar and they do come in 1/2 pint sizes, so you can buy a few and test them out.

      Usually the color of the stain on the wood when it’s wet is what it will look like with finish on it (don’t go by it’s dried look).

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