Introduction: Chair Refinishing and Seat Recovering

I found a set of four of these Queen Anne style hardwood chairs at a second hand shop for 100$ a few years ago. They were stained with a cherry colour stain and the red vinyl seats had been painted with gold swirls. This is the process of stripping the stain, sanding and treating the wood with tung oil, and covering the seats with canvas. The process probably took around 8 hours for each chair.

Step 1: Before

This is the wood component before starting to remove the varnish.

Step 2: Materials

Materials I used for the wood stripping component:

  • chemical furniture stripper
  • tung oil
  • metal paint scraper
  • sandpaper of various grits - 60 to 220
  • rags
  • face mask
  • safety goggles
  • two pairs vinyl gloves

Step 3: Using the Paint Stripper

Paint stripper needs to be used in a very well ventilated area, or outdoors. The stuff is toxic. Be sure to use goggles when applying it. I use a double layer of gloves.

Technically, I think they recommend using a brush to apply it but I find that pouring it directly on the painted surface and then rubbing it around with my hands works well - like I said, double pair of gloves.

The painted surface will start to bubble a bit when the paint is coming up, take the scraper to it then and remove what you can. Not everything will come off with the paint stripper, but it takes the bulk of the paint off.

Step 4: Sanding and Oiling

Once you have most of the paint off with the stripper, move on to sanding. Start with the lowest number of sandpaper you have (the coarsest grit) and remove the rest of the paint. Then switch to finer grits of sandpaper, ending with a fine (220 grit) paper. With this project, it wasn't essential to remove absolutely all the stain that had soaked into the wood as it gave the chair an interesting finish.

Tung oil is a natural oil. I tend to use this oil, or a paste wax, for a natural finish when refinishing wood. I used a rag to oil the wood and buffed the surface a few times. This is where your fine grit sanding job will show, the wood will end up smooth and shiny if you have sanded with a fine grit paper.

Step 5: Recovering the Seat

I'm no expert at upholstery, but this is what I did here. Materials were:

  • white canvas
  • upholstery tacks
  • a hammer

Lay the seat out and figure out where you want to attach the fabric with tacks, then cut the fabric with about an extra inch from there.

I find it is easiest to start attaching the fabric at the centre of the seat, then stretch the material to the opposite side of the chair and be sure you have it tightly tacked across from your first tack. Then work your way out from the centre, making sure the fabric is tight when you tack it as you go.

On this chair, the sides were a bit angled so I cut the fabric accordingly. You don't want to end up with uneven bits in the corners if you can prevent it. You can see that my folded corners aren't perfectly matched. I cut fabric from inside the folds.

Step 6: Completed Chair

There is the chair!

Trash to Treasure Challenge

Participated in the
Trash to Treasure Challenge

Makerspace Contest

Participated in the
Makerspace Contest