Here is my table as it looks now. A nice deep brown and sturdy enough for me to stand on and dust my ceiling fan blades.
This is what it looked like when I brought it home from the Salvation Army. I sanded it down and filled in the pain-in-the-neck grooves on the top with some wood filler. Then I sanded it again. I wiped it all down with a damp cloth and gave it a few coats of gel stain and a few coats of poly.
Now I must tell you, this finish has held up well. We really use(abuse) our coffee table. We put our feet up on it, we use it as a laptop holder, and we play board games on it. We don't baby it at all and it looks pleasantly rustic and informal.
I've linked up with Jane at Finding Fabulous to show off our projects. Check out her blog.