Transform your table for the holidays with Minwax

This segment is produced with and sponsored by Minwax.

The holidays are fast upon us - do you want to give your table a new look without the expense of buying an entirely new table? Minwax is your answer. From refinishing your old table, to a flea market find to brand new unfinished furniture, you can get the perfect color and look - and you have the bragging rights of doing it yourself!

Think it's too hard? Author and Craftsman Bruce Johnson stopped by to show us how we can get two beautiful, yet very different looks by staining two identical tables. Here are his tips:

Step #1 - Wood Preparation: Sanding and Wood Conditioner

Stains and finishes work best on bare wood where they can be absorbed into the pores, also called the 'grain' of the wood. Rough wood should first be sanded with #120-grit sandpaper, followed by #180-grit, and finally by #220-grit to make the wood smooth and free of any scratches, dents, and blemishes. After your final sanding, wipe or vacuum off the dust.

Tip: Powerful belt sanders often do more damage than good on furniture. The little bit of sanding your wood will need can easily be done simply by wrapping your sandpaper around a small block of wood.

Tip: Always sand in the direction of the grain of the wood to avoid unsightly, cross-grain scratches which will stand out when you apply your stain.

Since wood is a natural material, it can be unpredictable when stained, unless you apply a coat of Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner after your final sanding, but before your staining. The thin, colorless Wood Conditioner needs just 15 minutes to soak into the wood, where it will reduce the blotchiness which appears whenever a species of wood absorbs a stain unevenly.

Step #2 - Staining

Minwax offers more than 100 different colors of wood stains, any of which can be applied with either a brush or a clean cloth. Apply a liberal amount of stain to the wood after the Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner has had between 15 minutes and two hours to be absorbed. For a lighter shade of the color you selected, wipe the excess stain off the wood immediately, always wiping in the direction of the grain of the wood. The longer you allow the stain to soak into the pores, the darker and richer the final color will be. The final step is always to remove any unabsorbed stain with a soft, clean cloth, as the stain dries best in the wood, not on the wood.

We're going to finish one of our tables using a Minwax Expresso stain, which will look great if your style is more traditional, but it's also a great color if you do a lot of evening-time entertaining, as the dark color adds a touch of warmth to your room.

For a more modern design aesthetic, we're going to stain the second table using Minwax Classic Gray. This lighter color creates more of a rustic, distressed look that works well if your style is more contemporary.

Minwax has introduced a new faster-drying formula, which means you can now stain and finish a project in a single day.

Tip: Test your choice of a stain on a hidden area first to insure that the color of the stained wood is the color you want.

Tip: If a darker shade is desired, a second coat of stain can be applied after the first has dried. Do not sand the dried stain, as this will remove some of the color unevenly.

Step #3 - Finishing

Stains add color to wood, but cannot provide the protection needed to ward off water, alcohol, and food spills. For a durable, protective finish, select one of Minwax's several oil-based or water-based clear finishes to apply to the wood after the stain has dried. Thin, wipe-on finishes can be applied with a soft, clean cloth. Slightly thicker finishes, such as Fast-Drying Polyurethane, are best applied with a quality bristle brush. Typically, two coats of a brushed-on finish are enough, but extremely dry and porous woods may require a third coat to achieve a smooth, uniform finish on top of the wood.

Tip: Always stir your finish, as shaking will create air bubbles which will dry in your finish, leaving it feeling rough to the touch.

Tip: The better the brush, the smoother the finish. Disposable foam brushes leave ridges of finish in their wake; inexpensive bristle brushes inevitably shed hairs as you are brushing on your finish. If you buy a quality brush, clean it well, and store it properly, you will be able to use it for years.