I bought this coffee table a few years ago. It was in bad shape and it was always my intention to sand it down and restain it, but time goes by and it hadn't happened.
Well a couple of weeks ago I finally got around to this little project - actually it turned out to be not so little! One of the table's previous owners had varnished (or polyurethaned) over what looked like an oil finish. This explains why the table was in such bad shape. You can't see it from the photos but the varnish had all chipped off.
You can see in this close-up the scratches that were also all over the top. Around the edge it had a build up of something (don't want to even contemplate what!) so I had to sand it really well, right back to the wood. Even when I did this small oily spots kept reappearing after a fews. Just when I thought I had it looking perfect, I wiped it down and went away to let it dry, I'd come back and these little oily spots were back.
Finally I decided that I had done all I could so I set about to polyurethane it. This was actually quite a nice job. I took three coats but it was well worth it. Afterwards I wished I had applied a darker stain to it before the polyurethane but I'm still really happy with the way it turned.
Sorry about the crocked photo - for some reason, every photo I've ever taken of this table is like this! Anyway, as you can see, it came out pretty well.
Now it is going to be the subject of "the great table swap".