Refinish a Shuffleboard Table

By Stephen Andrew Baldwin
A smooth, refinished table.

Restoring an old shuffleboard table usually involves taking a scratched and beat-up surface and bringing it back to life. Whether you've inherited your table, had it sitting in a basement for 10 years or just recently had it begin to look worn or scratched, it may be time to refinish it.

Refinishing

This can be a difficult process, and one that many have no interest in taking on themselves. Whatever the project, remember that you ordinarily cannot just refinish a section of the table. If it's scratched or worn, a full refinish of the entire table is necessary for an even finish.

Cracks

Get professional help. It is possible to fix a cracked board on your own, but most find the process too tedious and overwhelming to take on. It is recommended you get a professional to assess the damages.

History

Knowing what type of table you have can make all the difference. First, is your table in two halves or one solid piece of wood? You more than likely have a two-piece table, unless it is very old and doesn't have midway support legs halfway down the board. Solid, one-piece tables generally tend to cost a lot more but can be a bit sturdier in construction, making them a lasting investment.

According to shuffleboardtable.com, older shuffleboard tables are typically finished with varnish, lacquer or polyurethane. This means more maintenance, and they often need refinishing after just a year of use. More modern shuffleboard tables generally use polymer coating, which many prefer, as it eliminates the need for constant and costly refinishing as long as the table is cleaned and waxed regularly.

Materials

Shuffleboard tables are made of a range of materials. The more popular are laminated hardwood, wood grain vinyl, and even plastic--which is less expensive. These boards can be a great alternative to solid hardwood as long as proper maintenance and preservation is done. As with older boards, thicker tops last longer but are a lot more costly.

Maintenance

The refinishing process consists mostly of sanding, buffing and more sanding, but it can be a tedious venture. Most experts recommend consulting a professional if you're not fully confident in your sanding skills. It is important to note that most shuffleboard tables are slightly concave--they dip slightly in the middle. While holding a level across your table, you should have enough room to slide a piece of paper underneath the center.

For a full refinish, your boards need to be stripped down to bare wood and then sanded, planed and cleaned. If possible, preserve original artwork with meticulously light sanding, otherwise lines and graphics then need to be reapplied with compatible materials so as not to cause warping or peeling. Finally, the finish is applied in several coats, lightly sanding between.

Preservation

A well-waxed playing surface.

Many have noted that their tables play differently during the day and night, or summer and winter months, which is partially due to heat. It is important, if possible, to keep your shuffleboard table away from direct sunlight. If possible, position your table away from any windows.

To avoid constant refinishing, preserve your table. Invest in some quality products made specifically for your type of table. It is recommended that you use a shuffleboard cleaner or glaze once a month to remove buildup on your table, buff with a cloth or shuffleboard wipe and wait 15 minutes before playing. You should also apply a liquid shuffleboard wax once a week, and then wait 30 minutes. Before every game you should apply a silicon spray and make sure your board is completely covered in powdered wax before playing. This will cut down on scratches and overall wear, keeping your table looking and playing like new for years to come.

About the Author

Stephen Andrew Baldwin became a freelance writer in Seattle, Wash. after graduating from Western Washington University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in creative writing. Focusing professionally on web copy, Baldwin has been writing professionally for more than two years, and has been published on a number of websites including eHow.com.