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Refinishing furniture is not a difficult task, although it can be time consuming. Achieving a professional look is not hard, provided you take the time to remove all of the old finish, repair any dents, scratches, burns and chips, and apply the new finish carefully.

The first step is to disassemble the piece as much as possible; you shouldn't need to take drawers apart, unless they need repair. Don’t forget to remove any metallic parts such as drawer pulls or decorative trim. Clean all the pieces very completely; you want to remove all grime, stickers, and any loose finish. Make sure you remove any glue from joints, staples, nails etc.

You can use any of the chemical strippers available for your type of finish. Most require application, and a short waiting period, before removal of the finish. Follow the maker's directions. After stripping with a chemical stripper you will need to sand to insure all of the old finish is gone. Pay special attention to any carvings, grooves or other decorative trims. Use fine sandpaper wrapped around an old deck of cards to help match the curves and angles of your piece. Remember to always rub in the direction of the grain, apply very light pressure so that you remove just the finish and don't create dips and valleys in your furniture.

Clean using a tack cloth to remove any dust or grit. Check for damage and repair as much as possible. Use a plastic wood product to fill in scratches and chips. You may need to sand burn marks, being careful to go with the grain, and sanding a much larger area to avoid dips in the finished product.

Clean your pieces again using a good grease remover to insure all oils from your skin are removed. Let your individual pieces dry completely for at least 24 hours. For the next step you will want to wear thin cotton gloves to avoid leaving any skin oils on the wood. Lightly sand again, going with the grain so that you will remove any raised grains from the prior repair and cleaning. Wipe with a tack cloth to remove any dust and grit.

Now you can stain the wood following the directions on the stain. The usual process is to apply with a brush or rag, and then after waiting a few minutes wipe off. Compare your pieces to insure they are all the same shade. Leaving the stain on longer will result in a deeper shade. It is usually better to work with one part at a time, comparing each with the others as you go.

Apply the finish according to the directions on the can; be careful to work in a well-ventilated dust free area. Apply your finish in one direction with the grain. Avoid drips and runs by using several thin coats with about 24 hours between coats, unless the manufacturer recommends otherwise.

You may need to use fine steel wool after you have applied the finish and it has dried to make a smooth satiny finish. Put your masterpiece back together and get ready to enjoy the compliments of your friends and family.