Refurbished redwood burl coffee table

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Project by jfk4032 posted 04-13-2020 12:40 PM 2460 views 1 time favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

It was about this time last year that I finished refurbishing this beautiful redwood burl coffee table. This is a family heirloom piece which my parents bought in 1976. When it seemed the entire country was going to be in the Washington DC region for the bicentennial celebration, my parents took our family away from the area on a multi-week National Parks tour from the Grand Canyon to Yosemite. At the end of the trip when we were in the San Francisco area my Dad bought this amazing table in Sausalito.

This was a hard working coffee table getting heavy use for the past 43 years. We ate on it at least weekly for many years, watched TV kicking our feet up on it for decades, threw items onto it, sat around it for family gatherings and holidays and that usage took its toll on the surface. Redwood is a very soft wood and when I inherited the table it was peppered with scratches, dents and some pretty deep gouges. You can pretty much dig in your fingernail and it will leave a permanent mark.

The original finish that was on it was very thick (I also think it was tinted) and in the burl areas concealed much of the natural beauty of this slab. That finish was pealing in some areas and I knew I wanted a different approach to let the true color, grain and figure shine through. The last picture above is a before surface shot so you can see the difference with the after shot to the left of it which I tried to keep at the same size and angle of shot for comparison.

My original plan was to detach the slab from the base log pieces and run it through my CNC to flatten the top. However, I was surprised to see that the table wasn’t bolted to the base but it was attached with pieces of rebar driven through log pieces into the top slab. So, detaching it wasn’t an option. So, I had lots of sanding to do!

I sanded the surface down at least .25” everywhere to eliminate the majority of the surface blemishes. I then carved and shaped out other deeper affected and rotted areas. This slab has major areas of nooks and crannies, crevices and channels that can’t be sanded out. The only way I could think of to clean these areas out and strip off the original finish was to sandblast it. So I bought a cheap hand held sandblast unit I could hook up to my compressor and blasted away…and what a mess that made! I tarped my driveway where I blasted and it was still a major cleanup. The sandblasting did a great job and it revealed some amazing color variations throughout the burl crevices that were previously concealed by that heavy varnish/shellac finish that was originally used.

I used a Dremel and some dental pics to clean out several large bark inclusions to again reveal amazing burl pins and color variations that were hidden in there just waiting to be exposed.

I wound up rubbing on Odie’s Penetrating Oil as a first coat and the 3-4 coats of Odie’s Oil to finish it off. I wanted a thin layer of finish to really let the newly exposed surface shine through and be seen as close to its natural beauty. Having completed my kitchen table ( after this Redwood table, I can honestly say the Odie’s worked much better on the hard surface Bubinga, than it did on the exposed and soft end grain of this Redwood table. There are still some end grain areas on the Redwood table where the finish looks starved, even after multiple spot applications to remedy that, but I’m thrilled with the overall transformation of this amazing slab of wood.

We have a great spot to showcase this table in a much lower area of traffic. We also anticipate very light usage for this table so I expect it to look great for years to come as it continues to be a family heirloom.

-- ---Joel; Central MD...rookie empter nester and getting back into woodworking!

8 comments so far

View recycle1943's profile


7002 posts in 3074 days

#1 posted 04-13-2020 01:36 PM

What a hunk of lumber with a beautiful restoration and a great history story. That will make your family even more appreciative of an heirloom. Thanks for sharing

-- Dick, Malvern Ohio - my biggest fear is that when I die, my wife sells my toys for what I told her I paid for them

View luv2learn's profile


3158 posts in 3755 days

#2 posted 04-13-2020 02:39 PM

Beautifully done Joel. Your coffee table is amazing.

-- Lee - Northern idaho~"If the women don't find you handsome, at least they ought to find you handy"~ Red Green

View pottz's profile


25647 posts in 2436 days

#3 posted 04-13-2020 02:55 PM

wow a beautiful table,should be good for another 43 yrs.

-- working with my hands is a joy,it gives me a sense of fulfillment,somthing so many seek and so few find.-SAM MALOOF.

View Foghorn's profile


1519 posts in 838 days

#4 posted 04-14-2020 12:12 AM

Great story and beautiful chunk of wood. Well done and great for another couple of generations before we see the next post! :)

-- Darrel

View swirt's profile


7655 posts in 4424 days

#5 posted 04-14-2020 02:02 AM

Beautiful restoration. That piece is amazing.

I feel your pain on the starved end grain. I have run into it on an endgrain table I am working on and finishing with Odie’s Oil 90% looks great, but 10% just keeps drinking Not a fault of the oil, just the trouble with endgrain.

-- Galootish log blog,

View mel52's profile


2419 posts in 1717 days

#6 posted 04-14-2020 03:12 AM

Beautiful and unique. Difinitly one of a kind. Excellent job !!! Mel

-- MEL, Kansas

View Peteybadboy's profile


4823 posts in 3401 days

#7 posted 04-14-2020 11:00 AM

I love that! Amazing table. Nice refinish too.

-- Petey

View Ken90712's profile


18113 posts in 4641 days

#8 posted 04-14-2020 11:20 AM

Great job on and amazing family piece. Love it

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

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