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How To Refurbish 1940S Samsonite Card Table


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Merrielle Mayhew



Welcome to the world of 1940s Samsonite card tables! These vintage pieces are not only a charming addition to any home or event, but they also hold sentimental value for many. However, over time, the original finish on these tables can become worn and tired-looking. Thankfully, with a little bit of time and effort, you can restore the beauty of your Samsonite card table and bring it back to its former glory.


In this guide, we will take you through the step-by-step process of refurbishing a 1940s Samsonite card table. From gathering the necessary materials to applying a new finish, we will walk you through each stage so you can confidently refresh your table. Whether you inherited the table from a family member or found it at a thrift store, this guide will help you transform it into a stunning piece that can be enjoyed for years to come.


Beyond the aesthetic appeal, refurbishing your Samsonite card table also offers a wonderful opportunity to connect with the past. These tables were not merely pieces of furniture, but also witness to countless gatherings, card games, and conversations. By preserving and refurbishing your table, you are not only honoring its history, but also creating new memories and moments for yourself and future generations.


Before we dive into the refurbishment process, it’s essential to note that these instructions are intended for 1940s Samsonite card tables specifically. While many of the steps may be applicable to other vintage card tables, it’s always good practice to research and adapt the process as needed for different makes and models.


Now that we’ve set the stage, let’s gather our materials and get started with the refurbishing process for your 1940s Samsonite card table!


Step 1: Gather Materials

Before you embark on the refurbishment journey, it’s essential to gather all the necessary materials. Having these items on hand will ensure a smooth and efficient process. Here’s a list of materials you’ll need for refurbishing your 1940s Samsonite card table:

  • Protective gear: It’s important to prioritize safety while working with chemicals and tools. Wear gloves, safety goggles, and a dust mask to protect yourself.
  • Cleaners: Look for mild cleaners suitable for wood surfaces. Avoid harsh chemicals that may damage the table’s finish.
  • Scraper or putty knife: You’ll need a scraper or putty knife to remove any loose or flaking finish from the table.
  • Sandpaper: Choose medium and fine-grit sandpaper to smooth the surface and prepare it for the new finish.
  • Stain or paint: Depending on the look you want to achieve, choose a stain or paint that complements your style and preferences.
  • Brushes: Select high-quality brushes specifically designed for smooth and even application of stain or paint.
  • Clear coat or varnish: To protect the table’s new finish and enhance its durability, opt for a clear coat or varnish suited for wood surfaces.
  • Lint-free cloth: A lint-free cloth is essential for wiping away excess stain or paint and achieving a clean finish.
  • Screwdriver: You may need a screwdriver to disassemble and reassemble certain parts of the table during the refurbishment process.

Take the time to ensure that you have all these materials ready before you begin the refurbishment. This will save you from interruptions and help you maintain your momentum throughout the project.


It’s also worth noting that you may come across additional materials or tools that are specific to your table’s condition. Adjust the list accordingly to suit your individual needs.


Now that you have all your materials ready, it’s time to move on to the next step: cleaning the table.


Step 2: Clean the Table

Before you begin the refurbishment process, it’s crucial to thoroughly clean the table to remove any dirt, grime, or residue that may have accumulated over the years. Cleaning the table not only ensures a clean surface for the refurbishment but also helps reveal the true condition of the wood underneath. Here’s how to clean your 1940s Samsonite card table:

  1. Start by removing any loose debris from the table’s surface using a soft-bristle brush or a lint-free cloth. This will prevent scratching the table during the cleaning process.
  2. Next, prepare a solution of mild cleaner and warm water in a bucket. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to determine the proper dilution ratio for the cleaner.
  3. Dip a clean, lint-free cloth into the solution and wring out any excess liquid. You want the cloth to be damp, not dripping wet.
  4. Gently wipe down the entire surface of the table, paying close attention to corners, edges, and intricate details. Be cautious not to oversaturate the wood with water.
  5. For stubborn dirt or stains, use a soft-bristle brush or a sponge to gently scrub the affected areas. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or scrubbing too vigorously, as this can damage the table’s finish.
  6. Once you have thoroughly cleaned the table, rinse the cloth in clean water and wring it out. Use the damp cloth to remove any remaining cleaner from the surface.
  7. After cleaning, allow the table to air dry completely. Avoid using a hairdryer or any heat source to speed up the drying process, as this may cause damage to the wood.

By following these steps, you will remove dirt, grime, and other buildup from the table, revealing the natural beauty of the wood. This ensures a clean starting point for the next steps of the refurbishment process.


Now that the table is clean and dry, you’re ready to move on to the next step: removing the old finish.


Step 3: Remove the Old Finish

Removing the old finish is a crucial step in refurbishing your 1940s Samsonite card table. This process will strip away the worn or damaged layer of existing finish, allowing you to start with a fresh canvas for the new finish. Here’s how to effectively remove the old finish:

  1. Begin by ensuring that you are working in a well-ventilated area. Open windows or use fans to promote airflow and minimize exposure to fumes.
  2. Put on your protective gear, including gloves and a dust mask, to protect yourself from the chemicals and debris.
  3. If your table has any protruding or removable parts such as legs or trim, consider removing them for easier access to all areas.
  4. Apply a suitable chemical stripper to the table’s surface in a thick and even layer. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the specific stripper you are using.
  5. Allow the stripper to sit on the table as indicated in the instructions. This will ensure that it has enough time to penetrate and loosen the old finish.
  6. After the recommended time, use a scraper or putty knife to gently scrape off the softened finish. Work in the direction of the wood grain to avoid damaging the surface.
  7. Continue scraping until you have removed the majority of the old finish. It’s normal for some areas to require multiple applications of stripper and scraping.
  8. To remove any residue or remaining traces of old finish, use fine-grade steel wool or a gentle abrasive pad, applying light pressure.
  9. Once the old finish has been removed, wipe down the table with a clean, damp cloth to remove any lingering stripper or debris.
  10. Allow the table to fully dry before moving on to the next step. This will ensure that the surface is clean and ready for the next stage of refurbishment.

Note: Ensure that you dispose of any used stripper and debris according to your local regulations.


By following these steps, you will successfully remove the old finish from your Samsonite card table, preparing it for the next stage of the refurbishment process. Next, we’ll cover how to prepare the surface for the new finish.


Step 4: Prepare the Surface

Preparing the surface of your 1940s Samsonite card table is a crucial step in the refurbishment process. This ensures that the new finish adheres well and creates a smooth and durable surface. Here’s how to effectively prepare the surface of your table:

  1. Start by inspecting the table for any dents, scratches, or imperfections. If necessary, use wood filler to fill in these areas and allow it to dry according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
  2. Once the wood filler is dry, use medium-grit sandpaper to gently sand the entire surface of the table. Sanding helps smooth out any rough patches and promotes better adhesion of the new finish.
  3. Work in the direction of the wood grain and sand evenly, paying attention to corners, edges, and intricate details.
  4. After sanding with medium-grit sandpaper, switch to a finer-grit sandpaper and sand again. This will help create a smoother surface that is ready for the new finish.
  5. Once you are satisfied with the smoothness of the surface, wipe down the table with a clean, dry cloth to remove any dust or debris resulting from sanding.
  6. Inspect the table again to ensure that the surface is clean and ready for the new finish. If necessary, use a tack cloth to remove any remaining particles.

Preparing the surface of your Samsonite card table is essential for achieving a professional and long-lasting refurbishment. Take your time during this step to ensure that the surface is smooth, free of imperfections, and ready for the next stage.


Now that the surface is prepared, it’s time to move on to step 5: applying a new finish!


Step 5: Apply a New Finish

Applying a new finish to your 1940s Samsonite card table is where you’ll see it truly transform. This step will enhance the wood’s natural beauty and protect it for years to come. Here’s how to apply a new finish to your table:

  1. Choose your desired finish, whether it’s stain, paint, or a combination of both. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding application and drying time.
  2. If you’re using a stain, test it on a small, inconspicuous area of the table to ensure that the color and finish match your expectations.
  3. Start by applying the new finish to the table’s surface, working in the direction of the wood grain. Use a brush, following the manufacturer’s guidelines for the appropriate type and size of brush.
  4. Apply the finish in thin, even coats, and avoid overloading the brush with too much product. This will help prevent drips and create a smoother, more professional finish.
  5. Allow the first coat to dry completely before applying subsequent coats. Follow the recommended drying time specified by the manufacturer.
  6. If desired, lightly sand between coats using a fine-grit sandpaper. This will help create a smoother surface and promote better adhesion of the new finish.
  7. Continue applying thin, even coats of the finish until you achieve the desired depth and coverage. Remember to let each coat dry fully before applying the next.
  8. Once the final coat is applied and dried, assess the table’s appearance. If desired, you can apply a clear coat or varnish to protect the new finish and enhance its durability.

During this step, take your time and be mindful of creating a smooth and even finish. Applying multiple thin coats will yield better results than applying one thick coat. Ensure that the table is completely dry between coats to avoid any potential issues.


Now that you’ve applied the new finish, it’s time to move on to the next step: reassembling the table.


Step 6: Reassemble the Table

Now that you’ve achieved a beautiful new finish on your 1940s Samsonite card table, it’s time to reassemble the various components. Reassembling the table will bring it back to its functional form and complete the refurbishment process. Here’s how to reassemble your table:

  1. Refer to any documentation or photos you took before beginning the refurbishment to ensure you remember how the table was originally assembled.
  2. If you removed any legs, trim, or other pieces during the refurbishment, carefully reattach them according to the manufacturer’s instructions or your previous observations.
  3. Use a screwdriver or any necessary tools to secure all screws or fasteners tightly. This will ensure that the table is stable and safe for use.
  4. Take a moment to inspect the table and make any necessary adjustments or alignments to ensure that all the components fit together properly.
  5. Once the table is fully reassembled, gently wipe down the entire surface with a clean, lint-free cloth to remove any smudges or fingerprints.

Reassembling the table is the final step in the refurbishment process and brings your 1940s Samsonite card table back to its original functionality. Take the time to ensure that all components are securely attached and aligned properly for a sturdy and stable table.


Congratulations, you’ve successfully refurbished your 1940s Samsonite card table! With its new finish and restored beauty, your table is now ready to be enjoyed for many more years to come.


In the next step, we’ll cover some final touches and maintenance tips to keep your refurbished table in top condition.


Step 7: Final Touches and Maintenance

After completing the refurbishment of your 1940s Samsonite card table, there are a few final touches and maintenance steps you can take to ensure its long-lasting beauty. These steps will help preserve the new finish and keep your table in excellent condition. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Apply a thin layer of furniture wax or polish to the table’s surface. This will add an extra layer of protection and enhance the shine of the finish.
  2. Use protective coasters or placemats when placing items on the table to prevent scratches, water rings, or heat damage.
  3. Avoid placing the table in direct sunlight or near sources of extreme heat or moisture, as this can deteriorate the finish over time.
  4. Regularly dust the table with a soft, dry cloth or use a vacuum attachment with a brush to remove any dust or debris that may accumulate.
  5. Periodically clean the table using a mild wood cleaner and a damp cloth. Avoid using abrasive cleaners or harsh chemicals that can damage the finish.
  6. If you notice any scratches or imperfections on the surface, touch them up with a matching stain or paint to maintain a seamless appearance.
  7. Consider periodically reapplying a thin coat of clear coat or varnish to protect the new finish and revive its luster.

By following these maintenance steps, you can ensure that your refurbished Samsonite card table remains in excellent condition for years to come. Regular care and attention will help it retain its beauty and functionality.


Remember, your refurbished table is more than just a piece of furniture. It holds a piece of history and can serve as a gathering place for cherished moments and memories. Take pride in the work you’ve put into restoring its beauty and enjoy the functional and visual delight it brings to your home or events.


With that, we’ve reached the end of the refurbishment process. Congratulations on successfully revitalizing your 1940s Samsonite card table!



Refurbishing a 1940s Samsonite card table is a rewarding journey that allows you to breathe new life into a vintage piece while preserving its historical significance. By following the step-by-step process outlined in this guide, you’ve learned how to transform your table from worn and tired-looking to a stunning centerpiece.


From gathering the necessary materials and cleaning the table to removing the old finish, preparing the surface, applying a new finish, reassembling the table, and taking final touches and maintenance steps, each stage was carefully designed to ensure a successful refurbishment.


Throughout this process, you not only gave your table a fresh start, but you also paid homage to its rich history and the memories it holds. By restoring and maintaining this cherished piece, you have created an opportunity to create new memories and moments for yourself and future generations.


As you enjoy your newly refurbished Samsonite card table, remember to continue caring for it with regular maintenance and protection. By following the recommended maintenance steps and protecting it from direct sunlight, heat, and moisture, you can prolong the life of the new finish and keep the table in excellent condition.


Thank you for joining us on this refurbishment journey. We hope you’ve found this guide informative and helpful in your quest to revitalize your 1940s Samsonite card table. May your refurbished table continue to grace your home with its timeless beauty and serve as a reminder of the past.