Tiger Oak Pedestal Table Restoration

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Project by groovy_man_6 posted 06-23-2014 06:06 PM 6789 views 4 times favorited 12 comments Add to Favorites Watch

A custom restoration of my neighbor’s antique Indian Head Table Company (Nashua, NH) tiger oak pedestal table. This table dates back to somewhere 1912 – 1925 when the company was in operation. Despite looking pretty beat up, it was clear that this was at heart, a quality table, and would be worth restoration.

I began by repairing cracks and restoring the structural elements of the table, created two leaves for it (each 15” wide by 4’ long) in matching tiger oak, installed new pegs and locking attachments under the table (lee valley), and carefully began the refinishing process.

The finish was a 4 part process: (1) Transtint Brown Mahogany Dye (initial color and increase contrast) (2) Minwax “Tung Oil” Finish (partially seal wood) (3) Minwax Mahogany Gel Stain (pore filling, deepen color further) (4) 3-coats of Arm-r-seal semi-gloss polyurethane. The figure in this antique wood is nothing short of stunning! One of my favorites.

As a point of interest, the company had dovetailed all of the slats of the table top together together along the full length of the joint. 100 years later, there was ABSOLUTELY ZERO SEPARATION between the table top slats. Makes me want to dovetail just about everything :-)

Hopefully their family will have another hundred years of memories around this table! I adore antiques and the thought of honoring them and keeping them around inspires me. Especially in the case where they can continue being used and bringing joy to those who use them.

12 comments so far

View pintodeluxe's profile (online now)


6173 posts in 3613 days

#1 posted 06-23-2014 07:09 PM

Great job on the restoration. Creating the new leaves is an impressive feat. I like your stain-over-dye finishing technique.

-- Willie, Washington "If You Choose Not To Decide, You Still Have Made a Choice" - Rush

View groovy_man_6's profile


148 posts in 3799 days

#2 posted 06-23-2014 07:24 PM

AH pintodeluxe, that means a lot coming from you of all people, you’re such a master of the tiger oak!

View bushmaster's profile


3940 posts in 3082 days

#3 posted 06-24-2014 12:55 PM

Very interested rest and like your table restoration. especially the finish method. My neighbor gave me one in bad shape, top stained with this and that, finish worn off joints separating , base falling apart. If I didn’t take it he was going to burn it. I have it about ready to finish last year, just waiting for a rainy cold day to get it done. Yours inspired me, they sure had some nice figured wood back then, did not know you could buy any like that.

-- Brian - Hazelton, British Columbia

View Thomas P.'s profile

Thomas P.

20 posts in 3472 days

#4 posted 06-25-2014 01:22 AM

I’ve never heard of Tiger Oak. (Pardon my lack of wood knowledge please) is this similar to rift or quarter sawn red oak?

-- Thomas Prusak

View Dark_Lightning's profile


4141 posts in 3908 days

#5 posted 06-25-2014 02:13 AM

I personally would call it quarter sawn, and GORGEOUS.

-- Steven.......Random Orbital Nailer

View groovy_man_6's profile


148 posts in 3799 days

#6 posted 06-25-2014 01:59 PM

Hi Thomas,

Yes it is typically quarter sawn white oak, although red oak is sometimes used as well. People prefer white because the rays, which give it that tiger flecking are longer and more pronounced in white oak. Rift sawn has some tiger character and some not depending on the board. Best. P

View Dusty56's profile


11859 posts in 4487 days

#7 posted 06-26-2014 10:54 PM

Looks like Quarter Sawn Oak from here. Beautiful color and finish though : )
I actually had some Tiger Striped White Oak at one time. There were no flecks in it, just the rippled looking grain going across the face like Tiger Maple : ) Keep up the nice work !

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View Woodn88s's profile


82 posts in 4341 days

#8 posted 06-28-2014 10:19 AM

Very nice job, handsome table

-- I want to know Gods are details "A. Einstein"

View DesignDD's profile


1 post in 2092 days

#9 posted 11-11-2014 06:49 AM

Absolutely stunning job!

Need some help…I just pruchased a real nice Berkey and Gay Furniture makers desk in quartersawn tiger oak with two 2-shelf bookcases attached to the turned legs. Real nice desk, but the finish is extremely dull and a bit dark.

Is this maker too valuable to mess with the finish on?

What did you do to prep the surface BEFORE adding color?

I have tung oil, mahogany gel stain, and poly, but am unsure what transtint mahogany dye is, where to get it, how to apply without adding too much color?

Would love a step-by-step on this finish. Also, there is a round black mark, like from a paint can, but it is not paint. Any ideas what it might be and how to remove or lighten it? Do I use oil to darken a white water ring?

Thanks guys. Hope to get advice from you experts.

View groovy_man_6's profile


148 posts in 3799 days

#10 posted 11-11-2014 12:46 PM

Hi DesignDD,

Well, I wish it was simple to accomplish the things you want, but alas, it really isn’t. I”ll try to address your questions

1) I probably wouldn’t mess with it is my gut reaction, however I don’t really have a sense as to the value of that particular maker. Stripping and refinishing is A LOT of work.

2) Surface prep, using hand planes I removed the old finish and reflattened that table. Then I used a card scraper to remove all the milling marks and plane marks. The card scraper gives a VERY nice finish, extremely smooth and ready to finish.

3) I buy transtint dye online (amazon) or from their company directly. Also woodworking specialty companies like woodcraft and rockler usually sell them. How to apply without adding too much color, well that’s basically trial and error. Make the recommended dilution, finish a test piece all the way (with the full protocol), see if you like it…. then dilute it further, try a test piece again. There’s no magic, it’s all just lining up a series of test pieces until you find the color and look you’re hoping for. It can be fairly time intensive.

Step by step
a) prep wood (i used a card scraper, but many people sand to 150 grit or 220 grit)
b) dilute transtint dye in water, and apply a coat (or two if not dark enough)
c) minwax tung oil (the oil pops the grain and partially seals the wood so during the next step it doesn’t get too dark)
d) minwax mahogany gel stain (this fills the pores adding some darkness and richness)
e) poly (I used arm r seal by general finishes) 2-3 coats with 320 sanding in between, very lightly.

4) Black mark, yeah, so my guess on this is it’s a water stain. When water sits on oak, it reacts with the wood to form a black mark. It might be tough to remove, and I’m not an expert, but here’s a thread on the topic:

View relichunter97's profile


2 posts in 1875 days

#11 posted 06-16-2015 01:22 AM

Wow, amazing work! Do you do commissions? We have an Indian Head tiger maple table very similar to this, in need of a restoration (and maybe a leaf or two). We’re out in Western Mass on route 2, and would be willing to bring the table to you if you would be willing to take it to restore. Shoot me a message if you are interested!

View relichunter97's profile


2 posts in 1875 days

#12 posted 06-16-2015 01:23 AM

Er, I meant to say Tiger Oak.

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