Okay, so you saw how my Dad and I built our DIY Ana White harvest table here. Well, although I was feeling seriously triumphant for building it (holla!!), I still had to sand, stain, and finish this thing.
Step 1 // Fill all of the nail holes using paintable wood filler. It’s like patching any wall in your house – just fill it in with putty and smooth over with a spatula-type scraper.
Step 2 // Sand. Once the holes were filled and dry, we got to sanding. First up was Dad with the big belt sander. This is a super powerful sander and since we were using construction grade unfinished wood, this was really the best way to get an initial smoothing (including removal of the stamp marks along the wood).
Then I followed up with the hand sander. We used medium grit sand paper disks, which took the smoothness to the next level.
When we flipped the table over to do the underside, it was a little trickier and more time consuming with all of the nooks and crannies. We both wore protective masks the whole time to ensure we didn’t breathe in any sawdust. I also had glasses on the ready (see that snazzy tinted 3M pair on my head?), for when it got ultra dusty. The belt sander especially throws out a ton of that stuff and you don’t want to ingest any or get any in your eyes.
Luckily with both of us tag-teaming it, we got it done pretty quickly.
To finalize the sanding, we flipped the table right-side-up again, and I went over the whole top with some super fine sand paper. I started at 150 grit and worked my way up to 300 grit, using sandpaper from this line: 3M Advanced Abrasives. The higher you get in numbers, the finer the sandpaper becomes, so you want to work your way from the low numbers up to the high ones. This gets you that nice super-smooth feeling.
Always make sure to sand with the grain of the wood. I use this hand-held block to keep the sandpaper in place.
Step 3 // Clean. Once everything is sanded, you want to wipe it down really thoroughly to get rid of all that dust. You can get tack clothes from the hardware store that are great for this, or just a regular clean cloth should do the trick too.
Step 4 // Apply your finishing products. I used these 3 products: a wood conditioner, which you use to make sure your stain goes on evenly, Minwax stain in “Early American”, and polyurethane.
You apply the wood conditioner first with a paintbrush. You don’t really see the difference it makes as it goes on clear, but trust me that your wood will look SO much better after it’s been stained with this step. It really helps to even out the stain application.
The actual staining is always my favourite part. It’s when that piece of furniture comes to life, you know?
I used a paintbrush to apply the stain, would finish a small section, and then go over the newly painted area with a cloth and wipe away the excess.
I didn’t want anything too dark, so went with a fairly light, honey colored stain (Minwax ‘Early American’) that was exactly “country harvest table” to me. Totally takes my construction grade wood up a notch.
After letting the stain dry overnight, the last step was to put a few coats of polyurethane. Polyurethane is one of those love/hate things. I love that it protects the piece of furniture and makes it stand up to lots of wear and tear, but I hate how it can often come out looking shiny. I knew that especially with this harvest table, I wanted to keep it as raw as possible. I chose the satin finish so it would be the least glossy of the bunch and applied the first coat with trepidation. See what I mean about it looking super glossy?
Luckily though, it dried to a much more matte finish. It’s definitely not a raw wood look, but it’s not overly shiny. I think it will stand up to wear and tear really well.
The trick with putting on poly is to sweep your paintbrush lightly over it on an angle as a last “pull-over” to remove the little bubbles, and to sand very lightly with a fine paper in between coats to remove any bumps/particles. I did 3 very light coats on the table. It looks like the legs are a lot darker in the photo below, but it’s just the weird lighting in the garage.
Now all we have to do? Move this huge, heavy, beautiful beast in our dining room! Check out the other posts related to the table here:
// Building our DIY harvest table
// The ‘after’ of our DIY harvest table