My mother bought this table when I was in middle school and several years ago she passed it on to me. Between my sisters and I, and now my kids, this poor table has been through quite a lot.
A lot of wear and tear and a fair bit of water sitting on the table (my kids used to leave spills for the magic fairy to clean up) and the clear coat broke down. The table was pretty damaged and I considered building a new one.
Here's a wider shot that also shows the water rings, paint spots, and marker streaks that have graced the table over the years.
So I thought maybe I would try to refinish it first and if it didn't work out then I would build a replacement. I bought some Citristrip and liberally sprayed the table then let it sit for about 3 hours. I then came back and scraped off all of the goop (eww), wiped it down, sanded a little, and tried to stain it.
I say tried because what I ended up with was an ugly blotchy mess. I was pretty sure the table was ruined and it's been sitting in my garage for 2 weeks while I was really bummed about the outcome.
Then yesterday I was out in the garage and I noticed that actually the dark spots were the color the stain was supposed to be and the rest was kind of yellow. I realized that the Citristrip must have only taken off part of the clear coat but not all of it. I felt a small glimmer of hope that I had a thick enough veneer left to sand again and restain. I pulled out my mouse sander and went to town. By the time I was done the table was so smooth it felt like butter.
I reapplied stain and, lo and behold, it was a consistent color! I applied two coats yesterday and today I'll add another 2 coats.
It's finally working! I'm not done yet so there's still a chance I'll ruin it but so far I'm really happy with the outcome. The legs will get painted white and I think it will look really nice with the walnut top. Then it will get an absolutely ridiculous amount of poly to be sure that it never looks so sad and abused again.