Are you planning on sanding and re-staining a piece of your furniture? Maybe you have too many dents in a dresser or your table is so old the lacquer is starting to wear in a particularly unpleasing way. I take several of these types of projects on a year and if you don’t know quite what your doing it can go wrong pretty easily. Today, i’m going to give you a guide on how to refurbish most of your furniture yourself and a few tricks I’ve learned that will help you along each step.
Step 1. Sanding– The first step in refinishing any piece of furniture or wood work is bringing the item down to its base form. Before starting, disassemble the pieces of your project like taking the drawers out of dressers or unhinging doors from cabinets. If paint was present use a medium grain sand paper or paint remover, if not go ahead and use course or medium sand paper to remove the clear lacquer layer and switch to fine sand paper after to make the bare wood as smooth as possible. If you don’t have an electric sander try using sanding blocks to make the process quicker.
Step 2. Repair– The next step is getting your project back to a better condition. Take a wood filler and add to any dents or marks and sand flush with the surrounding wood once dry. Don’t worry if the wood filler stands out in color from the wood, after the stain is applied you won’t be able to notice a difference.
Step 3. Seal– Next, apply a layer of sealant sometimes known as a conditioner, making a thin even layer over your entire project. This will ensure that your wood is evenly stained and that no part is too light or too dark. Most of these have high alcohol content and will dry rather quickly. After this layer has dried take steel wool, like the kind you use to wash dishes, and lightly buff the surface to create a small layer of scratches. When finished wipe all surfaces down with a heavy cloth.
Step 4. Stain– Staining is the process through which you get to actually choose the final color your wood will be. Colors generally range from light brown to black, while brighter more vivid colors are less common because of the difficulty in obtaining a perfectly even stain. Use a brush or a rag, whichever method you prefer and make light passes over the wood to achieve an even tone for each layer. Repeat this process, while allowing drying time in between coats, until you have achieved your preferred shade.
Step 5. Finish– While this step will be the one you will finish on, I’m actually talking about the final protective layer over the stain to protect it from wear and damage. There are actually a few choices you can make to finish your project. Here are the different types of widely known finishes and their differences. I usually choose lacquer but the choice depends on what type of project your doing.
⦁ Shellac– This is a natural finish that comes from a secretion of the lac bug and alcohol. This preparation is very safe in it’s dried form. However, this doesn’t take heat well, so while bedroom furniture should be fine a kitchen table or cabinets above the stove may not be the best choice.
⦁ Polyurethane– This finish is more or less a liquid plastic until it has dried. The low odor and ability to take rougher wear coupled with its completely clear coating make this a popular choice. If using for anything that will have to stand heat choose oil over water based formulas.
⦁ Varnish– This name of this formula is usually stated, mistakenly, as the process of finishing. However, varnish is a distinct type that has higher solids offering better water protection and provides natural ultra-violet light protection.This is great for outdoor projects or things you want resistant to water.
⦁ Lacquer-Possibly the most popular, lacquer is the finish that ends with an extremely shiny gloss end product. This product has a durable high wear finish. The issue for many people may be that you will need a low pressure spray system to effectively be able to coat this finish on your project.
Now that you’ve chosen your preferred finish, move your piece into an area with the minimum amount of dust to prevent disruption of even coating. During this step add a very small amount of mineral spirits and apply the coats evenly according to directions on the can. Since each has it’s own formula, the application directions could vary by type or brand. Take the amount of drying time on the can and give it an extra 30-45 minutes on the final coat to be sure each layer down to the base has completely hardened.
And there you have it, a brand new(looking) piece of furniture that you can proudly say you did yourself. Now you know how to strip, seal, and re-finish almost any piece of wood in your house. Go, impress your friends and family with your newly found expertise with this do-it-yourself project!
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