Introduction: Saving a Wooden Shelving Unit

Picture of Saving a Wooden Shelving Unit

So I was at one of the local Antique / Consignment shops. And I saw a shelf that was really really messed up , no it wasn't antique , vintage at best but I need proper shelf for my collectables room and I knew she could be saved.

So this Instructable is just to show people how they can save a piece of furniture rather than junk it. I highly doubt  this would work on laminated MDF crap furniture, but if it is real wood it will. If you have particle board furniture consider breaking it down and using the almost wood for an indoor project.

Either way this is almost as good as bringing a Puppy home from the Shelter

NOTE: Saving a Puppy's Life is more Important!

Step 1: Supplies

Picture of Supplies

Now this piece, like a lot of older used furniture will have scratches and nicks that we want to try to hide or at least make them less noticeable and darker than the wood itself. Much like an old school desk , although I don't know if kids even know what a wooden school desk looks like any more.

Supplies:
Stain ( your preference, I used MINWAX Old American )
Foam brush ( By packs of them at the Dollar Store or HF for like a $1 )
Latex Gloves ( preferably non powdered ) I think a Box is like $7 more for Nitrile if you you are allergic to Latex
Safety Glasses ( Always use Proper PPE! )
Rags or Ripped up T-Shirts
Scott's Liquid Gold for final cleaning a day or two after stain technique

Step 2: The Quick Stain and Wipe

Picture of The Quick Stain and Wipe

Take you foam brush dip it in the stain and go over the wood in small stages. In this case we will do a shelf at a time.
You do not have to do overlapping strokes or anything to that effect just make sure stain is over the whole area,  I actually will dab extra in any nook or crevice or swirl the brush around the are to make sure I get into the nooks and crannies.
Now take the rag and wipe off in a circular motion, this should blend everything in as well as push extra stain into the crevices.

The Top shelf in the Picture has been done while the lower ones are still as where.

Not a good picture but you will see in the following , remember you will still see the scratches they will be darker than the wood not lighter which looks a lot better, IMHO.

Step 3: Comparison

Picture of Comparison

Here you can see the bottom shelf 1/2 done. I did this just to show you the difference.
I would normally coat the whole shelf ,as you want to do this job in sections because you are not really staining the proper way just correcting abuse.
If you were to do multiple parts then wipe it might cause issues. This piece had a poly  ( or most likely lacquer of some sort ) that part won't readily take the stain you just want to get the crevices dark.

Step 4: Possible Issues

Picture of Possible Issues

After you Wiped it off if there is Paint or anything else that prevented the stain form doing it's just hit it with some sand paper wipe off grit and then retain that area and wipe it off. Prior to re staining You can hit it with a hammer or object as well, you are just distressing it more and it will get stained.

Step 5: Final Piece

Picture of Final Piece

All in all happy with the final product as I just needed more shelving. The rounded corners lead me to believe the piece is 50's or early 60's which I wouldn't normally pick up but for $5 and real wood and No freaking Philips Screws ( although allowed for the period ) I am happy.

Other than the Quick Stain technique described I will tighten all screws and then if still bolt tight select points and use a brad gun to secure this piece tight.


So before you decide to throw away some old piece of furniture Consider saving it. This job would take maybe 15 minutes had I not had to remove gloves and take pictures.

At the very least , take 15 minutes to do the job and then give it to the GOODWILL or something! With all the crap they make now, Proper wood items should be used and not forgotten ( IMHO )

Please wait a day or two then clean piece with Liquid Gold and a rag. No matter how much you rubbed it off initially it is possible that there will still be residue. This process will remove the residue and leave it nice and shiny!

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