Refinishing Wood Furniture can be an effective way of restoring back the beauty of your original piece, or even creating a finish that’s more eye-catching than the initial one. There are various steps involved in this task such as filling, staining, sanding, and applying lacquer or polish.
Nevertheless, creating a beautiful finish that has both depth of color and elegant shine requires adequate preparation. Though it may take several steps to achieve the desired results, the end product will definitely be worth your time.
Certain types of wood such as mahogany shall require fillers to level out the surface before they can be worked on. Moreover, applying several layers of coat can give your wood more depth and make it last longer.
a) Check If The Surface has Paint or Varnish
A painted furniture can hide many faults such as burns, water stains and missing veneer. This makes refinishing much more difficult. Fixtures that have a varnish layer on top are easier to handle, since you can easily see through it to determine what lies underneath. Stripping off old finish is also quite simple.
b) Construction Quality
Look for tell-tale signs that your fixture was made during the 50s or early 60s. This is the period when laminate surfaces, particleboard and cutting corners were introduced into the market. Studies show that most furniture built before the 1960s are sturdier and more durable than today’s cheap models. Still, you should practice some caution when handling the really old pieces, such as those built before 1850. Sometimes refining them can affect their overall value.
c) Check if The Piece needs Re-Gluing
Conduct a small ‘rickety test’ to know whether you’ll have to re-glue the loose parts or not. Place both hands on the piece, then gently rock it back and forwards in motion. If squeaky sounds are produced the fitting probably requires a fresh re-gluing. An expert can be called to perform this task.
It’s possible to clean, repair and restore old worn-out finishes without using messy chemical strippers. Moreover, you also don’t have to strip down the furniture before restoring it back to its original shine. This procedure will help save lots of time and energy.
Plus since your furniture’s patina and character would be maintained, the piece shall retain its unique antique beauty. Nevertheless, if you think the unit is a valuable antique then consult with an expert before doing anything.
I. Assess the Old Finish with Mineral Spirits
Wiping mineral spirits on the surface can help highlight the coat’s condition, this should be done before starting any repairs or touch-up work. The spirit temporarily saturates the top finish to show how the furniture will look like with just a wipe-on clear finish coat. If the coating appears good then all you have to do is just clean the surface and apply some oil wipe-on finish. But in case the opposite is true then other methods of refinishing furniture can be used.
II. Do Some CleanUp
Gently scrub your furniture with detergent and water to remove grime or dirt, thereafter dry it out in the open. Removing the layers of dirt will help restore much of its original luster, though it may seem odd washing your fixtures with detergent and water is actually helpful. A paintbrush can also be used to clean carvings or moldings. After scrubbing the surface with soapy water, rinse with wrung-out sponge and clean water then dry with a towel.
III. Fix all White Rings
White rings can be removed with petroleum jelly or some special removers. Start by spreading the ring with your jelly and let it stay overnight, the balm will penetrate the old coat and take out any rings that lie below or at least make them less visible. If that isn’t effective then try a commercial cleanser instead, they often work well though the risk of changing the furniture’s sheen is still there.
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IV. Scrape off Top Paint without Damaging The Finish
For this task you’ll require a delicate paint scraper, it can be made for the diy refinishing wood furniture project by connecting a typical razor blade with two sets of masking tape. Paint spatters are quite common on old pieces of furniture, but the good thing is that they can be removed easily without affecting the finish.
Just wrap a sheet of masking tape around each side of the blade, then bend your blade slightly so that it’s curved. This tape will hold the razor slightly off the furniture’s surface, so that you can scrape paint spatters without the sharp blade touching the wood below.
V. Replace Missing Wood by Applying Epoxy
If you notice any missing veneer, damaged molding or chipped wood, this can easily be fixed with a standard epoxy putty. Once it’s thoroughly mixed together, the solution is then pressed into the affected area for repair. When epoxy hardens, its light color and density resembles that of wood.
You can also sand, stain or shape the epoxy just like wood so that it can blend in. To use epoxy, first slice off a piece using your utility knife then knead it with your hand while wearing safety gloves. When it’s completely blended to a regular color and also sticky you can apply it on the surface.
VI. Restore the Finish Color with Gel Stain
You don’t have to strip out the old finish for gel stain to work in refinishing stained wood furniture. Simply spread some of the dark gel stain on a soft piece of cloth then rub on the surface. Proceed by wiping it off with another clean cloth. Though gel stain won’t totally eliminate dark water patches, it hides fine scratches and tints in places where the finish has worn out.
Though thinner stains can also be used for this purpose, gel stain is much better since controlling the color is easier plus you can leave a thicker coat if required. Likewise, gel stain doesn’t soak in readily thus making it quite reversible unlike its counterpart.
VII. Remove any Visible Dents
You can eliminate small dents by wetting them up, the moisture will swell crushed wood fibers and bring them back to their former shape. For this to work moisture must readily seep into the wood, you can also make some tiny slits on the surface with a blade so that water can easily pass through. Using the corner of your diy blade, and with the equipment lying parallel to grain direction, fill the dent with some clean water then wait for it to dry.
VIII. Renew the Furniture’s Luster with a Wipe-On Finish
The final step in refinishing old wood furniture is wiping it on a coat finish, this will renew the sheen and protect its surface. Preferably, use a wipe-on gel solution for the task since it’s thick and relatively easier to rub on with a rag. In most cases you’ll only require a single coat to rejuvenate the existing finish.
To get an idea of what your unit will look like after the Refinishing Wood Furniture project is complete, find a protected part where the original wood is still visible such as the drawer’s back side. Make sure you like the grain appearance and fully understand the color that will appear at the end, some of the coat colors you can choose from include cherry, walnut, pine, mahogany and walnut amongst others.