Restored mid-century oval Chiswell table

We had been looking for a new dining table for a while when our friend spotted this one on Gumtree.

I loved the unique oval shape and that it extends to seat six people.

The table itself was in pretty good condition; a few marks here and there and a number 10 written on the top in permanent marker (!?).

I got the '10' out with a little toothpaste before restoring the top.

Here are the steps I took to restore the table...

Tools required:

  • 0000 fine steel wool
  • Methylated spirits
  • Microfibre cloths
  • Danish oil
  • Gloves
  • Bucket of hot soapy water

Step 1

Prep the table by giving it a quick wipe down with a damp cloth and dry it off.

Step 2

Pop on the gloves, get your steel wool and put a little methylated spirits on the steel wool. In long strokes gently rub the steel wool back and forth (edge to edge) over the table following with the grain of the wood.

Don't rub in the same spot but evenly cover the table in the long strokes (always edge to edge) as if painting a wall. If you rub the same  spot continuously you'll get a lighter patch in the wood. You want to be as even as possible.

Step 3

Following this, wipe the table with a damp (not wet!) microfibre cloth to get the white methylated spirits marks off.

Rinse off the steel wool in the hot soapy water and repeat step 2 and 3 until you're happy with how it looks.

You will notice the gunk coming off the table (sort of like mud), which is why you need to keep rinsing the steel wool. Make sure you wring it out to get as much water out as possible.

You will start noticing marks appear, which are the layers of wear and tear over the years showing up. Don't worry, keep going but be gentle and if there is a mark, don't rub in the one spot but continue with the long strokes.

Once you feel you've gone far enough (repeating steps 2 and 3) and the table is looking really even albeit dry, you can start with your first coat of danish oil.

Step 4

Using a fresh steel wool, pop some danish oil on the steel wool and gently rub the oil into the wood using the same long strokes (go edge to edge). Cover the table top evenly in a thin coat of oil. Leave the oil on for 10 minutes.

Step 5

Once the 10 minutes is up, buff the oil in to the table using a fresh microfibre cloth. Use long strokes to do this. Make sure you really buff it in.

Leave the table for 24 hours and don't put anything on it.

Step 6

Repeat step 5 once a day for three or four days or until you're happy with the results.

After the final coat of danish oil, don't use the table for 24-48 hours just to make sure the oil is really soaked in and the table has hardened up.

And you're done!

Here's a quick look at how our table worked out...

You can see the scratches and dark marks on the table top.

Looking pretty rough above and quite patchy. The key is to do long strokes - something I quickly adopted after seeing this photo.

And now for the 'after':

Camera: Canon 60D and iPhone