Two of my favorite fixes!
We hauled up my great-grandfather's dining table and sideboard this weekend. My aunt had it sprayed with auto-body paint several years ago. In addition to dated colors, the finish itself had chipped and cracked. The price was right (free!) for a classic shape.
I decided not to paint it with by hand; it's going to rain, and I didn't feel like sanding brushstrokes. Spray painting a flat surface has its downsides, though. It's hard to avoid those characteristic streaks and gritty feel.
We gave the table four light coats and moved it indoors. Now I'm applying my best secret, BriWax. A local shop has the most gleaming furniture around, and they recommended it to us years ago. BriWax is an all-natural product that combines beeswax with carnuba. It cleans, stains, and polishes to a lovely shine. Though it can strip some painted finishes, I've found that several coats fill in rough spots, making a soft, touchable surface with a subtle glow.
BriWax isn't cheap ($13 at Amazon, or $16 locally), but one can lasts a long time. Forget about dusting with Pledge or refinishing furniture with polyurethane. Briwax enhances the existing patina with a fraction of the effort.