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How to Refinish Furniture

Updated: 2018-03-05T19:15:29.717-08:00


rocker refinished


In this picture you can see a rocker that was stripped down to the bare wood then re-glued and sanded. The process of furniture refinishing is time consuming but the rewards are great!This is a mahogany rocker with detailed inlay on the back. The next step is the staining process and to apply the finish to the rocker. This rocker was professionally refinished at Doll Furniture Company, located in Normal Illinois.So as you can see a very beautiful rocker restored and refinished back to the original colors and finish. PR: wait... I: wait... L: wait... LD: wait... I: wait...wait... Rank: wait... Traffic: wait... Price: wait... C: wait...[...]

When to refinish your furniture?


Do you know many people think they should keep the original finish on there
furniture? The fact is unless you own a piece of furniture that has finish that
is not damaged or a museum quality piece you may need to consider it.

If your furniture has any water damage you should refinish the furniture to
protect the wood from any further damage.


Most damage to antiques can be from neglect and someone thinking they need to
keep the old damaged finish on their furniture, this is what will cause more
damage and may harm it to the point of not being able to be fixed properly and
if you wait it will probably end up costing you much more to do the repairs.


If you would like to try refinishing yourself there are many

books and videos
on how to refinish furniture.

Finishes And Fillers


There are many finishes, each of which has strengths and weaknesses. They vary in ease of application, water resistance, solvent resistance, dirt resistance, surface buildup toxicity, durability, gloss and easy of repair. The most commonly used finishes are oils, varnish and urethane, oil/varnish mixtures, wax, wiping varnishes, shellac and lacquers. Oils – Tow types of oil are used to finish furniture: linseed oil which is pressed from flax seed and tung oil (also known as China wood oil) which comes from the nut of the tung tree. Though tung oil originated in China, much of it is now exported from South America. Tung oil is superior to linseed oil, with greater water resistance and less tendency to yellow over time. In their purest forms, these oils dry slowly and stay relatively soft. to make them dry faster and harder, they are often treated with heat and/or additives in the manufacturing process. Treated linseed oil is called ‘boiled’ linseed oil. The advantages of oil finishes are: Ease of application, you just put some oil on the wood with a rag, let it soak in and wipe off the excess. Appearance – properly applied, oil finishes dry in the wood, rather than on top of it. The absence of surface buildup gives the wood a visual and tactile immediacy that most other finishes lack. Ease of repair, stains and scratches can be sanded out and re-oiled without stripping the entire surface. However, on woods that change color because of oxidation or exposure to sunlight, a freshly sanded spot will stay a different color for quite a while. The disadvantage of oil finishes are: Relatively little protection against liquids, moisture and scratches.Many coats are required to develop a decent buildup. Wet oil can bleed out of the pores for hours, unless you stay on hand to wipe the surface, bleed-out dries into shiny little spots. Varnish and Urethane – Varnishes are surface coatings traditionally made by cooking oil and resin together and combining the mixture with thinner, mineral spirits. Modern varnishes usually substitute synthetic alkyd resin for natural resin. Urethane is very similar to varnish, except that it contains some proportion of polyurethane resin. Varnish is applied with a brush, dries much harder than oil and takes a long time to dry. Excellent resistance to water solvents and moisture, as well as abrasion protection, makes varnish an ideal finish for marine and outdoor uses. Practice and care are required in applying varnish, which readily shows brush marks, traps air bubbles and picks up dirt particles. Oil/varnish mixtures – Oil/varnish mixtures are applied like oil but dry faster and harder with fewer coats required to build up a good-looking finish. There is no appreciable surface coating to destroy the tactile quality of the wood. Although they are nowhere near as protective as thick coats of straight varnish, oil/varnish mixtures definably provide better moisture and liquid resistance than does oil alone. Disadvantages of oil/varnish mixtures are greatest on tabletops because standing water penetrates them. The results can be discoloration of the finish and/or discoloration and change of texture in the wood. Wax – Waxes are generally used as a coating over other finishes, rather than as a primary finish. It does not provide much protection, but can greatly enhance appearance. Common waxes used on furniture include paraffin, carnauba and beeswax. Most commercially sold paste-wax finishes include one or more of these waxes, mixed with solvent to make them soft enough for easy application. Wiping varnishes – Many of the ‘oil’ and ‘tung oil’ products sold to woodworkers these days are actually wiping varnishes – varnishes that have been thinned with a high proportion of mineral spirits, although some ‘tung oil’ products don’t contain any tung oil. Wiping varnishes are appl[...]

How to Refinish Furniture



Furniture repairs and refinishing need to be done right or you can loose value in your furniture and antiques.

The first step in how to refinish furniture is to strip your furniture down to the bare wood. Some people think you can sand off the finish but it is a bad idea to do it this way. Use a chemical like Stripeeze or the like to get all of the old lacquer or paint off of your furniture first.

Next you will need to make sure all of the waxes from the hand stripper are removed from the bare wood with lacquer thinner. Wash your furniture off with lacquer thinner until you don't see any stain or color on your paper towel.

Next, repair furniture so all loose joints are fixed or any broken pieces are repaired back to the original workmanship of your furniture. You should use a good glue like Tight Bond II or a Hyde glue on your wood furniture and steel clamps to keep everything in place.


After repairs you should sand your furniture with 120 - 150 grit sand paper with the grain, also fill any holes and gouges with a wood filler or epoxy filler and sand smooth.

Next you will stain your furniture with some sort of an oil based or pigmented wood stain of some sort. Go to your local paint store and have them mix a custom color if you want to match another piece of furniture you own.

Next refinish your furniture with a finish you can apply. If you have access to a spray booth you can spray lacquer on your furniture, if you are a novice you may want a wipe on, wipe off oil style finish. Min-Wax makes a good oil/poly mix finish that is easy to use. Make sure you pick the right sheen. Most older furniture is done in a satin finish as to make sure it has some luster but not so much as to show all of the woods blemishes.

Congratulations your furniture repair and refinishing is complete, if this process seems to be to much for you, look in your area for a professional furniture refinishing shop to do any or all of these refinishing steps for you.


Keep in mind the chemicals used to refinish your furniture are petroleum based and will fluctuate in price with the cost of crude oil. So if you have your furniture refinished by a company or if you choose to do it yourself now you have a better idea of how to refinish furniture.