After many, many hours - I estimate somewhere around 20, maybe 30, spread out over three months - the table is complete.
And I'm quite happy with the result.
There were a lot of snags along the way, and it took me much longer than I anticipated. Even now, it's not perfect. There are some weird marks from the staining - I think because the wood conditioner might not have been completely dry in some places. And the polyurethane job is far from flawless.
But, as Navah keeps reminding me, it was my first piece. They'll get better in the future.
Here's what I learned about refinishing furniture:
1. Never refinish furniture in your dining room (probably not in other rooms either). It's annoying and smelly, and even if you put a drop-cloth down, sawdust and stain and polyurethane will inevitably get in places you don't want them.
2. It always takes longer than you think. However long you think it will take, triple it.
3. Check what grit sandpaper your power sander will accept before you buy it. And your best bet is to buy a sander that accepts a universal size sandpaper.
4. Sand by hand before you stain.
5. If you're using wood conditioner, let it dry for at least 45 minutes before you start staining.
6. Make sure your brush is absolutely 100% clean before you apply your second (or third) coat of polyurethane.
7. Don't expect perfection - unless, of course, you know what you're doing.
Thanks for all your suggestions and support along the way!
Now it's time to find some chairs.
Happy 4th of July! I hope you're all reading this on your phones or something while you eat barbeque!