Table Transformation with General Finishes Gel Stain

JC Table 1

When my sweet friend asked me if I could transform her table I was really excited to do it.  I always love working for friends because I get to see the pieces again and again.  I like this because I can see how the products I use hold up.

JC Table 2

She wanted to darken the top of the table and paint the base and chairs.  I decided I’d use General Finishes Gel Stain because I’ve been wanting to try it.  We chose Java.

JC Table 10

I’m lucky to have this great Woodcraft store just around the corner from where my friend lives.  They carried all the products I needed to do the job.  In fact there was so much to choose from I kinda stood in the isle for a bit just to take it all in.

JC Table 3

I sanded the top of the table first.  This is an important step even though this is a gel stain and bonds well to most pre-finished surfaces.  There was a lot of poly on this table so I needed to sand it off to make sure the stain had something to bond to.

JC Table 4

I applied a generous amount of gel stain with a foam brush.

JC Table 5

Then using a lint free rag I removed the excess.  After I let the stain dry for several hours, I VERY lightly sanded the top again with a 400 grit paper and then applied an additional coat of stain.

JC Table 6

General Finishes Gel Stain has poly in the stain so when the second coat dried I had this beautiful ready to use surface.

JC Table 7

Next it was time to transform the chairs.  We chose Annie Sloan in Old White.  This is my most popular color.  It’s so versatile and goes with most any style.

JC Table 11

New fabric for the seats was the perfect finishing touch.

JC Table 12

I then did just a bit of distressing on the chairs and waxed them with clear wax and buffed.

JC Table 13

JC Table 14

JC Table 16

I think they turned out beautiful.  How about you?

JC Table 17

JC Table 18

JC Table 19

Do you have a custom painting need?  If you are within 1 hour of Fairview TN, email me at for pricing and details.

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Thanks for reading and commenting below.


  1. 2


    Okay I keep seeing blogs about this stuff and I think it is time for me to give it a try. This table looks fantastic! You did a great job on it! I think my own dining table may be my first project using this.

  2. 3


    I have some General Finishes products waiting to be opened. This is good inspiration to get started.

    • 5

      Beth says

      I hadn’t been there until now. I think I’m going to take some of the classes they offer.

  3. 6


    Love Java gel stain! I have used it numerous times! Great idea that I have never thought of!Just beautiful!! I may just have to copy this for my kitchen table!

  4. 8

    Alina says

    The table looks beautiful! I’m thinking of trying the gel stain on an old pine entertainment center and I don’t want it to get as dark as some of the other pictures online for the Java. Is that table top also pine or a harder wood? I’m afraid the pine might turn out splotchy as it’s a soft wood. Thanks!

    • 9

      Beth says

      It’s pine. GF has several different colors of stain to choose from so you could always get something a little lighter. Just add one coat at a time until you get the darkness you like. :)


  5. 10

    Jill says

    I love this look. I recently did a built in bookcase with a similar look. I have worked with this gel stain on several projects. (and love it) I am surprised to see you say you don’t need to poly the finished product, especially a table?

    • 11

      Beth says

      Hi Jill,
      There’s actually poly in the stain. This table belongs to a friend of mine and I plan to go back and put poly on it if it’s necessary but so far so good. :) Thanks for your kind words.

  6. 12

    Tara says

    Thanks for posting, the table looks great! I am also trying to refinish our kitchen table with the Java gel stain. The problem I am running into is removing the excess stain after I have applied. It comes off really unevenly. Did you run into this problem? Maybe I’m using the wrong kind of rag to wipe it off? Any thoughts would be great.


    • 13

      Beth says

      Are you letting it stay on long enough? You may need to sand a little more also so the stain soaks in? What kind of rag are you using?

  7. 14

    Caroline says

    what a great job! I have just bought some General Finishes gel stain & stained a bureau, but when I put the top coat of beeswax on it took most of the stain off. I’m tempted to just use gel stain next time but I read somewhere that if it isn’t finished/ sealed the colour comes off on people’s elbows. Have you / your friend had any problems with this table? Did you wax/ varnish/ top coat at all?

    • 15

      Beth says

      Caroline-it sounds like it didn’t dry properly or there was a little too much on the surface. I find it’s important to use products in unison. If I were you I’d try sealing it with one of General Finishes topcoats instead of beeswax. Sometimes products work better if you use all the same line. I hope this helps.



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