You don’t have to be a pro to get a professional-looking finish on your old wood furniture. Just follow three basic steps:
- strip off the old
- prepare the bare wood for a new finish
- apply a protective coating, and maybe a stain
To begin, find a well-ventilated workspace, gather your tools and follow some simple safety guidelines.
Stripping away the old
Pick a simple piece for your first project, and ignore the old finish; it will be replaced.
Choose a simple piece for your first furniture refinishing project, and ignore the existing finish. Using a chemical stripper will retain the wood’s original patina. You might want to bleach any stains you find beneath the surface.
Furniture refinishing tips
Furniture Refinishing Tip No.1 Start simple. Pick an uncomplicated piece without a lot of scrollwork – one that doesn’t require major structural repair.
Furniture Refinishing Tip No.2 You’ll want to strip the piece with the windows and the garage door open.
Furniture Refinishing Tip No.3 Once you’re down to bare wood you can actually iron out the rough spots.
Furniture Refinishing Tip No.4 Hand sanding hurts. Either buy a sanding block . . . or make one out of wood scraps.
Furniture Refinishing No.5 The fun part of furniture refinishing is when you experiment with different stain options until you find the one that works best for you.
Repair, sand, smooth …
Sand with the grain in straight, even strokes, using moderate pressure.
Once you’re down to bare wood, you’ll want to repair any dents or gouges. Following that will be several rounds of sanding – each one with a finer grit paper or steel wool. Sanding not only smoothes the surface, but reopens the grain of the wood that was closed in the stripping process.
Applying a final finish
Brush or wipe the stain on in long, uniform strokes.
This final step creates the new look for your aging heirloom. If you like the wood’s natural tone and contrast, a clear, protective coat will suffice. If not, you can experiment with a wide variety of stains until you find the one you like best.
For your next project …
Once you have the basics, experiment.
Now we have completed the steps for furniture refinishing. Remember that it is important to follow the directions that come with the products you purchase. If you have any questions, contact your hardware store for advice. As you become more experienced, you can take on more challenging projects.
Experiment with the different steps and you can try various other products. Once you get the basic steps down, you are really only limited by your imagination.
Furniture refinishing can be enjoyable and satisfying work. You can save money and at the same time practice a time-honored craft. But the nicest part of furniture refinishing is your ability to give the wood back its natural beauty and elegance.
Good luck with your refinishing. If you are careful in following the steps outlined here, I’m sure you will find yourself with a piece of furniture that looks like a million bucks, but it only cost pennies to refinish.