I almost didn't take this commission on because it was so badly damaged, however I'm very pleased with how it turned out. There is still some minor damage thats noticeable if you look close enough, but boy, what a different don't you agree!
I ordinarily don't do these types of refurbs, but never one to bow down to a challenge I got the big guns out to tackle this baby. The top had been kept moist and warm for an extended period, so aside from the obviously water damage the top was also cupped (bowed). Flattening the sucker was the first step.
I solved the cupping by damping the reverse and putting in a press for a week. This did the trick nicely and its flatted out nicely. To avoid it cupping again I sealed the bottom with the same varnish as I used on the top. This stops different levels of moisture effecting the wood again.
After it was flatted I had some major splitting in the wood to tackle, job number two.
This was solved by mixing together wood glue and sawdust, then using it as a filler. This creates a very strong bond that makes it like solid wood again. It also keeps the filler the exact colour of the wood because you use the sawdust from the wood itself. Easy pezy.
Next I had to sand the water damaged top. It had both surface white marks (affecting the varnish only), and deep black marks and pitting which had penetrated a long way into the surface of the wood. This meant I had to sand about 2mm down to get it even close to looking acceptable. This top is made from completely solid timber planks so I was able to start with a belt sander, then I progressed down to 1/3 sheet electric sander, and finished it off by hand. All the while I was reducing the grades of sandpaper, starting at 120 and finishing on 420 grit.
Finally four layers of varnish was applied to match the deep gloss level of the rest of the table. Done!