Cleaning and Inspecting the Furniture
Before refinishing a piece of furniture, you’ll need to clean it first. Use dish soap, warm water and a sponge to remove any dirt or debris. Then dry it with a cleaning cloth.
Removing the Wood Finish
When refinishing furniture, you must do the most unpleasant part of the job first. Removing the old finish can be a cumbersome and messy task. For a while early in the process, until you start getting down to the wood underneath the mess, you may feel that you have completely ruined the piece. Have patience.
Using Wood-Stripping Chemicals
As useful as they are, chemical strippers can be bad news if used improperly. Make sure you have adequate ventilation, rubber gloves and eye protection when using these substances. After all, they’re designed to soften, peel and blister paint and varnish. You don’t want them to do the same to your skin, lungs or eyes.
Preparing the Wood
Once the piece is free of the old finish and has had time to dry, you’re ready to sand the wood. Depending on how good a job you were able to do with the stripper, you may not have a lot of sanding to do. Start with 120 grit paper to clean off any finish which may remain and to smooth out any bad places in the wood.
Filling the Grain
Some woods have a tight grain and don’t require grain filler. Others, like oak and mahogany, have an open grain structure that must be filled if you hope to achieve a smooth, even finish.
Applying Sanding Sealer
Applying sanding sealer is like priming the wood. The sealer reduces the tendency of some woods to absorb stain unevenly. Sealing end-grain prevents the wood from absorbing too much stain and creating very dark areas. Sealer can also be applied after staining and filling to reduce the number of finish coats.
Staining Wood Furniture
Choosing a Stain
If you’re refinishing furniture, you’re almost certainly going to be using stain to achieve the color you desire and to reduce the contrasts between different wood varieties which may have been used in the construction of the furniture. There are several different types of stains and dyes which may be used to color wood.
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