Reviving Old Furniture

In this instructable I hope to convey upon everyone how easy it is to turn old furniture ino a showpeice that you will have for years to come.Whether it is something you were given from your family or something you found on the side of the road (as long as it is structually sound). I will usually refinish just the parts you can see since there is no sense in worrying about areas you'll never see. For demonstration purposes only I will just be doing the draws of a desk I was given. The items you will need are as follows:

Sandpaper in assorted grits ( for this project I used 40 and 80 grit)
Sander ( electric or hand but electric is far easier)
Stain ( in your choice of color)
Polyeurethane ( you can use a polyeurethane and stain mix and still get great results)
Paint brushes
Rubber gloves
Dust mask

The difference betwwen the beginning finish and the end result makes this all worth it.


Teacher Notes

Teachers! Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson.

Step 1: Removing the Old Paint/varnish

The first thing you should do is check that all the drawers and doors open and close freely, if they don't now is the time to adjust them or sand them so they work correctly. After you have everything working properly you start removing the old finish by sanding all the surfaces that are visible. Once the finish is completely removed you can switch to a finer grade of sandpaper. You will notice the differance between the old finish and the new finish. On the sanded drawer you can see the beautiful woodgrain that some one thought of covering up so many years ago.

Step 2: Staining the Wood

After every thing is well sanded and free of flaws you can start to stain your project. First make sure the stain is thoroughly mixed so you get an even color. Apply the stain by brush or rag and let sit for about 15 minutes. When 15 minutes has gone by you will need to remove the excess stain with a clean rag. At this point you can either go straight to the polyeurethane or youcan continue to stain ( the more coats of stain you use the Deeper and darker the coloring) Just remember to remove the excess stain before going to polyeurethane.

Step 3: Making It Shine.

After you have removed the excess stain you can apply the polyeurethane with a paintbrush. In order to get the best finish you need to brush in long even strokes in the direction of the grain.The first picture shows the first coat and the second picture shows the difference between one coat and two coats ( you can use a fine steel wool in between coats to help smooth it out).

4th Epilog Challenge

Participated in the
4th Epilog Challenge

Be the First to Share


    • CNC Contest

      CNC Contest
    • Make it Move

      Make it Move
    • Teacher Contest

      Teacher Contest

    6 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Nice ible, it seems like pretty basic stuff the way you explain it, but the last time I tried to satin something I was making, using some stuff called Danish Oil, I found it really hard to get even coloring. No matter how many cotes I gave it, it seemed to soak in more in some places than others. Also, I've tried different kinds of lacquer and poly, and have never gotten that nice thick, smooth, shiny finish. Maybe you could post some info about the products that you find to work the best.

    3 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    While I have used oils specifically made for wood finishing I find actual stains to be a much better alternative. I love to use Minwax Products and have always had great succss. In this instructable I used sedona red stain from minwax and made sure that I wiped off the excess ( if you don't wipe the excess off you will end up with a mottled look. I then used a polyeurethane from Varathane I also used the cheap throwaway brushes that are made from pig bristles ( its just easier to throw it away than clean them). Also it good to note that you should always go with the grain to add to the quality of the finish.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Those cheap chip brushes aren't for me. Well they are, when I'm cleaning machinery, but not when I am finishing.

    Minwax and Varathane are good choices for paint finishes. I probably have Minwax's whole line of oil stains kicking around now. Well, maybe not that bad but easily dozens of quarts. Mostly I use their natural on things I make. Often I have to match pieces though then I need a lot of different colors.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Try sealing wood that tends to blotch with a shellac wash before staining it. This is called conditioning the wood. Pick the right stain and one application should do the job. More only makes it darker.

    Once you have your surface stabilized level it. Build up some top finish leveling as you go and thinning your finish material more and more as you reach your final coat. Pro tip: Read the label for what the manufacturer recommends for clean up as an idea of what a good thinning agent might be for the product you are working with. Sometimes they just come right out and tell you what to thin with too but remember they're in the paint selling business so ... it doesn't really pay them to tell you how to stretch their product out.

    I think a lot of painting is in the magic of thinning personally. I usually get a glass finish after 3 coats myself. A builder, a leveler, then a final spit polish.

    Unless you really dig the fumes stay away from brushing lacquer. Putting lacquer down properly is pretty involved. All other modern finishing products are pretty great within their individual limitations.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    You should try wet sanding between coats of finish. I use about 320 wet or dry paper, wet of course. As you say steel wool helps nib the paint, but wet sanding will really level the surface. You'd swear I used a spray gun on my finishes.

    When I strip furniture I use Zip Strip. Costs a bit but saves me a lot of work. I still have to sand it a little once it is stripped but sanding finish off can be hard.

    I'm actually refinishing the top of a mid century modern table right now.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    you did a gorgeous job with the staining. Thanks for sharing!