Reclaimed Wood Makeover for a Second-Hand Side Table

March 9, 2020

Wood end table beside sofa
Love the look of reclaimed wood accent tables, but don't want to pay the price?  Using antiquing wax, this second-hand end table got a makeover to very much resemble those pricier options.

CREATE   |   Published March 9, 2020

White tulips on wood table

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New furniture is expensive.  And while I fully support investing in quality for things like a sofa, dining table, or mattress, second-hand is a great choice for smaller, more occasional furniture choices.  Accent chairs, bedside tables, or dressers are typically plentiful in thrift stores and antique shops.  While they may not look exactly as you'd hope when you buy them, oftentimes they can be just as nice as you'd find in Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware after a little love and DIY.

Years ago, my mom offered me this small accent table because she didn't want it anymore.  Even though at the time I had no use for it, I added it to my "collection" of cast aside furniture for a later time.

Worn out wood side table

Fast forward to my living room remodel, and this table's shape was an almost exact replica of a World Market table I had pinned for the room that was close to $200.  Other similar versions are even more expensive than that!

The top of this table had seen better days and the original factory finish was worn away in many places.  But it was sturdy and undamaged making it perfect choice for a little makeover.

Top of a worn wood table

Did you know that most times, underneath the factory stained finish on things like the legs of upholstered chairs or coffee tables, there is wood?  That means that just as you can sand back the finish of an old antique dresser to refinish it, you can also sand newer furniture to paint or stain.

This project was a quick start to finish, but made such a difference both in restoring the damaged top and it making the end table fit better into today's more rustic, natural wood style.


Click the left and right arrows to scroll through the different side tables.

Wood side table holding white tulips beside sofa.

I used my Ryobi Orbital Sander with an 80-grit piece of sandpaper to sand the top and other flat surfaces of the table and legs, followed by a 120-grit sanding to further smooth the surface.  I did the center spindle and around the edges of the table by hand using the same grit paper.

The whole sanding project can be done by hand, though, if you don't have an orbital sander.  The result will be the will just take longer and require a little more work.

Ryobi orbital sander on end table.

After the finish was removed, I wiped the entire table with a clean tack cloth to remove the dust from the wood.  When refinishing any piece of wood furniture, you want to be sure that you have a clean surface to work with.

Bare wood round end table

I used a cotton rag to apply creamy antiquing wax to the wood, rubbed it on, and then used a clean cotton rag to remove the excess.  I worked in small sections so that I could be sure to get the wax off before it started to dry.

If you'd like your reclaimed wood finish to be a bit distressed, you can gently sand areas that would wear naturally with a 120-grit sandpaper now.  I chose to leave my table as-is with the new finish, but a bit of sanding does enhance the aged look.

Wood accent table with tulips

Top of stained wood table

When the table had been fully "stained" with the wax and had time to dry, I went back over the entire piece rubbing in circles with another clean cotton rag to buff the finish to a bit of a sheen.

I really love the natural look that the wood maintains using the antiquing wax, as opposed to using stain.  Awhile back, I posted how I gave an aged look to a natural wood dough bowl I had bought at Hobby Lobby.  Using the wax, you're still able to maintain the feel of the bare wood, and it settles into cracks and imperfections really adding to the old patina you're trying to achieve.

This discarded side table is a good example of how a little sanding and refinishing can give you a very high end look for little or no money.  In almost no time at all, I had a piece of furniture that could rival other very pricey versions.  

Much like the DIY aged stoneware planter I shared a few weeks ago, it is possible to reuse what you have to make your own on-trend home decor for much less than you'd pay for new.

Wood end table with tulips and lamp




STEP 1: Sand the original factory finish from your wood end table using an orbital palm sander or by hand with sandpaper.  Start with an 80-grit coarse paper to remove the stain, followed by a 120-grit paper to smooth the surface.

STEP 2: Dust off the surface of your table and wipe the entire table with a clean tack cloth to fully remove the dust and dirt.

STEP 3: Use a clean cotton rag to apply a small amount of antiquing wax onto the surface of your table.  Fully rub it in and then wipe the excess off of the surface with a clean cotton rag.  Continue this process until the entire table has been "stained" with the antiquing wax.  All the table to dry fully.

STEP 4:  Take a clean cotton rag and rub in small circles over the whole table to buff the surface to a slight sheen.


Reclaimed wood accent table makeover
Before and after side table makeover

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