How to Refinish Vintage Wooden Furniture

Hello. I'm going to show you how to refinish vintage wooden furniture. The first thing that you'll have to do is find a piece of furniture to refinish. For my purposes, I'm using a Zenith stereo/record player cabinet. This cabinet was built sometime between 1946-1949 according to the sticker on the inside. It's important to be careful with wooden furniture because if you accidentally damage it too badly, you can ruin it and you won't be able to salvage it.

Step 1: Gather Your Materials

I used 120 Grit Sandpaper, a simple bristle brush, a rag, a stain and polyurethane in one combo, a hand sander, and, because I have wooden floors, I also had to use a broom and a mop. If you have any furniture around and you're doing this inside, be aware that wood shavings will get everywhere, so you may want to invest in a drop cloth to protect any furniture. Also, make sure nothing that you don't want to have to clean later is left out. When you are done with this project, if you're unable to do it outside, you will have to clean all surfaces in close vicinity to your project. All of these materials cost me under 30 dollars, so I'm also teaching you how to refinish vintage wooden furniture on a budget.

Step 2: Sand

The first thing that you are going to do is sand the piece of furniture. If you are using an electric sander like I did, you will need to ensure that you keep that sander moving at all times. If you let the sander sit for too long it will burn the wood and you end up with a black mark on your furniture that is not able to be sanded out. Do not try to use the electric sander on the smaller areas on the cabinet. For the smaller details on this piece of furniture (such as all of the crevices that the sander cannot reach ) you will need to take a piece of 120 grit sandpaper and sand those areas by hand. If you use the electric sander you can chip and damage the furniture.

Step 3: This Is What It Should Look Like When Your Done Sanding

You want the majority of the wood to be the same color. You'll notice in this picture that some areas of the wood are a little darker. You may also notice that no matter how much you sand you can't get the wood quite the same color as the rest of the piece that you are working on. That's okay. Sometimes wood will have natural darker marks on it, which adds to the beauty and charm of the furniture. Don't stress over small spots that aren't the same, especially since there may be some small crevices that the sandpaper just won't reach, just as you can see in the picture. Once the stain goes on when you're finishing up, it won't affect the quality of the final look.

Step 4: Wipe Off the Wood With a Damp Cloth

You'll want to make sure that you clean off your furniture with a slightly damp cloth. This ensures that no sawdust will be left on it when you go to stain it. When you have wiped off the entire piece of furniture, you will need to sweep and mop (or vacuum if you have carpet). When I'm done cleaning the floors, I personally like to wipe the item I'm working on off again to make sure all the dust is cleaned from the surface.

Step 5: Stain

I used an interior stain/polyurethane combo that I purchased from Home Depot. If you don't buy one that has both combined, you will need to buy a can of stain and a can of polyurethane. Make even strokes with a bristle brush and spread thin. This photo is after one round of stain &polyurethane. If you want it darker, apply a coat after the first coat has a chance to dry. If you bought the stain and polyurethane separate, DO NOT apply the polyurethane until the shade you desire is accomplished.

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    Penolopy Bulnick

    10 days ago

    Well done! Looks like a nice piece of furniture :)