the cedar wood used to construct this table is mixed with pieces that are sanded smooth and pieces that are un-sanded very rough wood. I tried sanding but the wood is too rough and you will get splinters in the assembly of the table... when you attach the bottom shelf, suggest that you place a 9 inch carton under and use a level to get this shelf even. also, you might want to use a rubber hammer to tighten the section that butt together for a better fit. if you want this table to weather naturally-no problem. if you want to protect the wood, use a Cabot's oil stain. I am not sure that the price equals the quality!