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How To Refinish Wood Furniture

Jul 12, 2008
Solid wood furniture often holds a special place in our homes and lives because it is so durable and beautiful and can easily be passed down from one generation to the next. Well built solid wood furniture is harder to come by these days and often costs a small fortune when bought new. More and more people are finding and buying older pieces of furniture and refinishing them to bring them back to their former glory.

The process of taking and old piece of wooden furniture that has been neglected or forgotten and restoring it to a beautiful piece of furniture can be time consuming and frustrating at times, but it can also be incredibly rewarding when you're done. Here are the general steps required in refinishing a piece of wooden furniture:

1. Pick a piece of furniture - The first step is obviously having a piece of furniture to refinish. If it is the first time you have tried such a project it should probably be something relatively simple in design and without a lot of ornate decorations. You may also want to avoid trying your hand at refinishing priceless antiques and furniture that is in need of extensive repair. A simple chest of drawers or a single chair is a good start. Assess the piece of furniture and make sure it is mostly sturdy and able to be refinished. A flea market or large garage sale is sometimes the perfect place to find old dressers or toyboxes that have been painted over but are just waiting to be refinished.

2. Removing the finish - Now that you have a piece of furniture you'll want to remove the existing finish. Often this finish is paint and it can be removed several ways. Using a chemical paint stripper that is made exclusively for wood is a good start, but you'll also need a lot of elbow grease, some steel brushes and a paint scraper to really get that paint off. This is sometimes the most time consuming part of the entire job. Once you begin to remove the finish you should try to identify what type of wood your furniture is made out of because that may affect how you sand and even how you ultimately refinish the piece.

3. Sanding - Once the majority of the previous finish has been removed from every square inch of your piece of furniture you can begin sanding it. Typically you sand with a lower grade grit (lower number, rougher sanding) and move up to higher grades. Yes, you will sand the same piece multiple times. First you may go over a piece of furniture with an 80 grit piece of paper and then you may go over it again with a 120 grit sandpaper and then you may go over it a third time with a 220 grit sand paper. The "grit" refers to how many grits of sand are in a square inch of the paper. The higher the grit the smaller the sand grits and the smoother the sanding job. You sand a piece of wooden furniture for several reasons. You are removing any excess finish and you are also preparing the wood for the next finish. Be careful about over sanding! Some stains and finishes actually have a hard time adhering to a wood surface that it too smooth.

4. Repair - Once you're done sanding you should check the piece over and make any structural repairs if they are needed. Check dovetail joints to make sure they are tight and consider replacing any metal hardware if it is not functioning properly or could damage the wood of the furniture.

5. Finish - Finally, you can now apply a finish to your new piece of furniture! There are several different options for staining from water based to oil based to Gel stains. They all have advantages and disadvantages and the stain you choose may depend upon the type of wood you're working with and refinishing. After applying several coats of stain you'll then want to add a protecting coat which will also depend up the type of wood and the type of stain you are using.

The process of refinishing a piece of wood, no matter how large or how small, is a long one which often requires a lot of patience, a little bit of creativity and a fair bit of persistance. Many people find that once they've refinished one piece of furniture that they can't wait to find the next piece of wooden furniture to fix up and refinish!
About the Author
Visit HomeImprovementsDepot.com to explore more online home improvement tips and tricks for the average homeowner and amateur handyman.
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