I have undertaken what's turning out to be a lengthy project, so I've decided to split it into two posts. I'm still not done, but am getting close!
We acquired a table from a coworker of Adam's (we traded her for a lemon meringue pie!). It's a really nice all oak table with two removable leaves, but the varnish was starting to come off in places. We've had it for some time now, and I've finally gotten around to refinishing it. Here's the victim, below (no, not the cat...)
First, I used a paint stripper to remove all of the old finish. In this picture, the stripper is still applied on the left side of the table, and on the right side I'm removing the residue from it after scraping it off. Paint stripper was actually a lot easier to use than I expected--I had thought that using a sander would be easier, but now I know that this was the much better method!
I had thought about using a sander on the table legs, but I had such good luck with the tabletop that I used the stripper there, too. I had good luck with CitriStrip, which is apparently less noxious than other products. (Gloves still required!)
Here it is down to the wood, with all of the finish and stain removed! Now, I'm going to restain the top, do a few coats of polyurethane, and paint the legs and skirt black. More pictures to come as I make some progress after this weekend!