How To Refinish Furniture
Breathe new life into your old furniture by stripping and refinishing it yourself.
If you have a favorite piece of wooden furniture that you think is beyond repair, take heart. The fact of the matter is, as long as you are dealing with wood, you can always strip and refinish it. This gives you a brand new look (or you can restore the old look) and is not that difficult. The main issue with refinishing furniture is, do you have the patience for it? If you can take your time, you will end up with a nice piece of furniture.
The first step is to get the old finish off. For this, you can use an electric sander or a chemical stripper. If the piece is very old or fragile you may want to have an expert look at it and give you a recommendation, otherwise either will work. If the piece has been painted over or has several layers of thick finish, you may want to use both. I have had great success first using the chemical stripper and then doing clean up work with the electrical sander.
When you apply the chemical stripper, put a nice, thick coating on the furniture. Cover this loosely with plastic wrap, and leave for the recommended amount of time. Uncover and begin stripping the paint with a putty knife or paint scrapper. Always be sure to wear protective gloves, and follow the cautions on the side of the bottle. This is definitely something you want to do outside, as the fumes are very noxious. Once you have all of the loose paint off, you need to decide if you need to reapply the stripper in spots or maybe just do some sanding. If the stripper took most of the finish of, you may be able to use a piece of sandpaper and hand sand the piece. If you want to use an electric sander, be sure to keep the sander moving. Gouging with the sander is responsible for most damage done to furniture being refinished. Keep the sander moving in nice even motions.
Once you have the piece completely clean, go over it with a piece of fine grain sandpaper, and then wipe it off thoroughly. You do not want any small pieces of grit to mar the finish. Apply whatever stain or varnish that you have chosen, remembering that several thin coats are much better than one or two thick coats. Let the furniture dry thoroughly between coats. When you are done, you will want to put a coat of furniture wax on it and buff it out. Do this periodically to maintain the sheen, and you should have a wonderful piece of furniture that you can be proud of.