Staining wood furniture requires some preparation, knowledge and time. If the wood is bare and smooth, it may only need a light sanding before staining. Depending on the number of layers of paint or topcoats previously applied, the wood may need to be stripped before it is prepared for staining. Stains come in solid and semitransparent coverage, and in several colors that are in the black family, including slate, charcoal and black.
Place the table on a dropcloth. Put on chemical resistant gloves, safety glasses, and a dust mask. Open windows or place a fan in the area where the work will be done.
Pour the stripper into a metal container. Apply to the table, using a paint brush. Allow the stripper to sit for the time indicated on the label, usually 15 to 30 minutes. Wipe clean and access your results. Reapply, if needed. If the paint or varnish is removed, wipe off the residue with an abrasive pad and odorless mineral spirits.
If the wood is bare or stripped, sand with 120 grit, high quality, sandpaper. Sand the table thoroughly, top, bottom, sides, and legs. Dust the table with tack paper, and sand again with 200 grit sandpaper.
Choose your stain type. Stains come in semitransparent or solid coverage. Semitransparent tints the wood, but allows the grain to show through. Solid stain is more like paint, tinting and covering the wood grain. Stain colors include true black, charcoal, pewter, and dark gray, all appearing to be shades of black.
Stir the stain thoroughly. Apply with a brush or a soft cloth. Cover completely, using a cloth to wipe in a circular motion, working the stain into the grain. Remove any excess stain, wiping with the grain for the final step. Reapply the stain if you want to deepen the color. Allow to dry completely. Read manufacturer's instructions for drying time.