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Doesn't look that bad really, from this limited photograph. Looks to have some character. 

A full blown refinishing job typically involves either chemically stripping, sanding or both. Fair warning, if you sand around those exposed, raised nail heads, they will likely become shiny silver and will catch and eat up the sand paper. 

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The grain patterns are bookmatched. Check closely to be sure it isn’t veneer. The grain should continue down the sides of each board and the ends should not be long grain . But the nails should indicate solid wood unless they are just decorative.

A card scraper would be my first choice but there is a learning curve so practice on something much cheaper then learn how to sharpen it. 

If that’s too difficult for you explore refinishing. Solvents or stripper might be needed. 

Its possible a good cleaning and scrub with an abrasive pad like 3m Scotch Brite or the equivalent then a fresh top coat would suffice. A gray pad would be my choice to start with. Maroon or Green are much coarser. Green is The coarsest, Maroon is coarse, gray is medium and white is the finest. A wiping varnish would be the easiest finish for a beginner. You might need to use a few coats. 

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Looks like a beautiful table.  If your clean up on the table goes well and you are down to give it a little refresh, you may want to think now as to what. 

Personally, not knowing what the original finish is, I would go with a coat of shellac as a barrier coat (shellac is a universal binder that will both fill some unevenness and provide a surface for the follow up to bond to) then ARS diluted 50% hand applied with a clean rag.

Practice this a few times on scrap wood to build confidence. 

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On 10/5/2018 at 6:34 PM, wtnhighlander said:

I'll vote for a simple cleaning, then evaluate the need for refinish. The surface appears to be in decent condition. A mild cleaner, like Murphy's oil soap, or diluted Simple Green, applied with a damp rag and gently scrubbed, may restore the appearance without removing that 'mellow' antique patina.


if it ain’t broke ..... Looks good to me. 

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