Here are some before/after pictures of my coffee table refinish job. I have a Lane Acclaim series 1960's coffee table that I love the shape of but the piece was stained brown and had accumulated a quarter inch of Pledge residue over its lifetime. I bought a matching end table at a flea market this summer for $5 that was being sold as a microwave stand, so I used that as the test subject before redoing my coffee table.
(Above is the table completely sanded). The first and worst step is stripping the varnish off. This is completely awful, no way around it. I started with all the environmentally friendly stuff and by the end I had goggles and ventilation masks on, using chemicals that started melting my rubber gloves. The end result is not very rewarding, it actually looks like you ruined your furniture but it made sanding easier. After I sanded the piece down, I used a tung oil finish. I did about two coats and sanded with steel wool between them.
As you can see I still need to paint the tips of the legs black like the original tables. I also found the perfect location for the red wire vintage basket I picked up for free at an auction.