The old finish needs to be completely removed. To do this I use Citristrip. It comes in a spray can and it smells like oranges. I love it. I’ve used other strippers that had to be brushed on and that goop was hard to work worth, not Citristrip, it’s easy!
Directions for removing the old finish with Citristrip:
1.  Make sure the can is room temperature then shake like crazy for 2 minutes. Hold can about 10” to 12” from surface and apply a thick layer of orange coating.
2.  Let it sit for about 30 minutes before testing a small area to see if the finish is soft and ready for removal.
3.  Remove the finish by gently scraping in the direction of the wood grain with a plastic spatula.
4.  Use Odorless Mineral Spirits with 0000 steel wool to loosen any remaining finish and remove all residue. Surface should be completely clean and dry before refinishing.



After the old finish has been removed it is important to sand the wood really well. Start with 100 grit sand paper and then gradually work your way to a finer grit sandpaper (the higher the number the more fine the grit). End by smoothing the finish with 220 grit sandpaper.  Before moving on to the next step be sure to clean the surface so that it is free from all dust and loose particles.



In order to ensure a smooth, even finish the wood should be conditioned. I use Minwax Pre-Stain wood conditioner.
Directions for applying the wood conditioner:
1.  Apply wood conditioner on clean, raw wood, using a brush or cloth. I like to use a brush.
2.  Allow the product to penetrate for about 15 minutes.
3.  Remove any excess with a clean, dry cloth.



I like to use Minwax stain for my refinishing projects. This table top is mahogany and it was very red in color. I wanted to tone that down a bit so I chose to use English Chestnut, rather than Red Mahogany. The color, English Chestnut, is a deep, beautiful brown with only a tiny hint of red.


Directions for applying Minwax Wood Finish:
1.  Stir stain thoroughly before and occasionally during use.
2.  Apply stain in the direction of the grain with a brush or clean cloth. Again, I like to use a brush.
3.  Allow the stain to soak in for about 5-15 minutes to achieve desired color. The more time the stain is allowed to penetrate, the richer and darker the color will be. I let the stain sit for 15 minutes and then applied a second coat.
4.  After the stain has had time to soak in it should be removed with a clean cloth. Wipe in the direction of the grain.
5. If you want to darken color, like I did, apply a second coat after 4-6 hours. Do not sand between coats of stain.




The final step is to protect your beautiful new finish with a clear coat. I like to use Formby’s Traditional Tung Oil Finish.
Directions for applying Formby’s Tung Oil Finish:
1.  Put a small amount of Tung Oil Finish on a soft, lint-free cloth and rub into the wood. For best results apply a thin coat.
2.  Allow the oil to dry and then buff lightly with a very fine steel wool pad. (Tung oil should dry within 12 hours)
3.   Wipe thoroughly with a soft lint-free cloth.
4.  Rub in a second coat. To build sheen and add protection, additional coats may be applied.






4 Responses to How to refinish mahogany table top

  1. Melinda says:

    Beautiful job! I have this same style table and plan on refinishing the mahogany table top and painting the legs. Your tutorial solidified my decision to do so (thank you!!) I am a total newbie and was wondering do I refinish the top first and then paint the rest of the piece or the other way round? Thanking you in advance.

  2. Deana says:

    Thanks Melinda. I would refinish the top first and then tape it off really well before painting the base.

  3. Gloria B. Tulip says:

    What was the old finish? And will the Citristrip work on all finishes?

  4. Deana says:

    Hi Gloria, I’m not sure what the old finish was, but I have used Citristrip on many pieces of furniture and it has stripped every type of finish I’ve ever come across.

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