This is How to Stain a Table the Easy Way. In this post I’ll show you the steps you need to follow in order to stain a large project like a table. I’ll also reveal several tips and tricks along the way. Enjoy.
If You Like My Posts, You'll Love My Books
How to Stain a Table
In reality, staining the table is not much different than staining any other woodworking project. The only real difference is that it’s much larger in many cases than other things you may have worked with in the past.
However, don’t let the size fool you. A table is made up of separate parts, like every other woodworking project. For that reason, you can dissect the table into sections, and it will make it far easier to stain.
You can do the exact same thing for all the preparation, and for applying a nice clear coat like lacquer in the end to protect it. The size of the project is really the only intimidating part, and I’ve just taken all of that away.
Coming up, I’ll show you what you need to do to prepare your surface, and get your entire table ready for staining. I’ll also show you a way to apply stain that gets the job done really well without leaving any blotchy areas.
See Also: Why You Need to Seal Wood After Staining
Preparing the Table Top
The very first thing that you need to do before you stain any project is prepare the surface to accept a finish. This is the one area that makes the absolute biggest difference, and it’s the one area that most woodworkers skip through.
I’m telling you right now, the better you prepare the surface, the better your table will look after you apply a stain coat. The stain is not going to hide anything. In fact, it’s going to magnify each and every little defect on your piece.
For this reason, and the fact that you don’t want to doom your table to a lifetime of mediocrity and questions about scratches, you need to do really good surface preparation first.
See Also: 17 Important Tips on How to Sand Wood
Steps to Surface Prep:
- Fill any defects on the table top with a good quality wood filler. Allow the product to fully dry.
- Sand the table with progressively finer grit until you reach 320.
- Wipe down the table with a damp cloth to collect all the sawdust, or blow it off with an air line.
- Examine the surface carefully, and mark any scratches that still need to be removed.
- Go back with fine sandpaper, and take out all of those scratches that you identify.
- Wipe down the table again, and examine it a second time.
- Take out any new scratches that you find, and repeat this process until you no longer find any scratches.
Now the table top is prepared for a great looking stain, and it’s time to move on to the vertical surfaces and address those as well.
See Also: 13 Helpful Tips on How to Stain a Wood Table
Preparing the Vertical Surfaces
Prepare the rest to your table in a similar way to which you prepared the top. Go over all of the wooden pieces, and make sure that there are no big defects or scratches that need to be addressed prior to finishing.
If there are, fill the ones that need to be filled, and then sand everything back down to 320 grit. Go over the pieces carefully again, and make sure that you address any scratches that still remain after your initial sanding.
Scratches are going to be more difficult to see on vertical surfaces than they are on horizontal surfaces like the top. However, it’s no reason to do the job halfheartedly. Spend the time that you need, and make sure the piece looks good.
See Also: How to Fix a Bad Stain Job
Applying the Stain
Applying stain is where a lot of new wood workers and wood finishers run into problems. If you slap the stain on the surface, and you let it sit in piles, you are going to end up with an uneven and blotchy looking woodworking project.
Instead, what you need to do is wet your rag carefully, and apply the stain working in sections, and not allowing any of the liquid to remain on the surface. Basically what you’re doing is almost rubbing it in.
When you rub the stain into the surface, you leave none behind in puddles on the top, and you create a very even look by making the penetration time even. Work around the entire piece like this, and you’ll get to the end with a very even look.
I recommend finishing legs one at a time, and then moving on to the skirt of the table. After that, move to the top, where you can apply a little bit more stain, but still move around quickly with the rag and wipe it up before it can sink in deep.
If You Like My Posts, You'll Love My Books
This may result in a color that’s a little bit lighter than you had hoped for, but you can just go over the surface again the same way and it will darken the color. This is the trade off for an even looking stain, which is more pleasing to the eye.
See Also: 3 Common Types of Wood Stain and When to Use Them
Applying the Clear Coat
After the stain completely dries, it’s time to add the clear coat. This can be anything that you are used to working with, and I recommend something you have experience applying.
A table is a large project, so when you compound the act of finishing something really big with also learning something new, you are asking for a problem. Instead, go with one of your own favorites.
Also, look for a nice version of your favorite. For example, if you like lacquer, then you should buy nice lacquer and enjoy the much easier application process. Bottom shelf lacquer is awful, so don’t even waste your time.
See Also: 23 Common Wood Finishing Mistakes for Beginners
Table Staining Tips and Tricks
Here are some tips and tricks for staining your table that will help you do a much better job:
- Get the surface prep right, and don’t take shortcuts.
- Don’t stop your prep until it’s perfect. A finish will only make it worse, not better.
- Stain carefully, and working with a purpose. You don’t have to wok fast, you just have work with a purpose.
- Use a good quality stain and top coating, and make sure they are compatible.
- Allow everything to fully cure before using the piece, and you will have less risk of dents and dings.
See Also: 10 Step Guide to Wood Finishing
Your Action Assignment
Now that you know all about staining a table the easy way, it’s time to get out into the shop and take action. If there is a table you have been worried about staining, you don’t need to worry anymore.
Do your prep really well, and then work your stain. It’s a fun process if you give it the time and enjoy what you are doing. Wait for it to dry well, then apply a nice clear to protect the color and make it pop.
If you have any questions about staining a table, please post a question in the forum and I’ll be glad to answer them. Happy building.
- More than 20 Years Woodworking Experience
- 7 Woodworking Books Available on Amazon
- Over 1 Million Words Published About Woodworking
- Bachelor of Arts Degree from Arizona State University
I receive Commissions for Purchases Made Through the Links in This Post. Join My Woodworking Facebook Group