Learn how to Refinish Wooden Furnishings

Comply with this tried and examined technique and detailed step-by-step tutorial to learn to refinish wooden furnishings, together with intricate particulars, with out sanding, from an skilled.

As you might be refinishing wooden furnishings, make sure to additionally learn our suggestions for portray furnishings with totally different paint varieties, how you can stop tannin (knot) bleedthrough, and how you can stain wooden any shade. 

how to refinish ornate wood furniture by Beckwiths Treasures on Remodelaholic

Table of Contents

Learn how to Refinish Wooden Furnishings (With out A Lot of Sanding)

by Beck from Beckwith’s Treasures

This publish comprises affiliate hyperlinks on your comfort. Study extra and skim our full disclosure coverage right here. 

So you’ve a chunk of furnishings you’re keen on, nevertheless it’s needing some consideration. Right here’s my course of, begin to end based mostly off years of expertise, that can assist you refinish it proper!

This superb vintage eating desk was actually caked with previous, crackled varnish so it’s the good piece to share!

In some unspecified time in the future somebody had stripped the highest and the inserts, however not the bottom.

How To Refinish Carved Wooden Furniture, Before, By Beckwiths Treasures On Remodelaholic

Stripping the previous end off intricate items like this ornate base would possibly look like a frightening process…

How To Refinish Carved Wooden Furniture, Base Before, By Beckwiths Treasures On Remodelaholic

And the thick, bubbly previous end appears to be like so everlasting, however you are able to do this! I’ll present you the way!

how to refinish carved wooden furniture - before1

Don’t miss these different inspiring refinished furnishings tasks: Kitchen desk refinished for a brand new look  –  Refinished Drop Leaf Desk  –  Espresso Desk Refinished to Buffet Desk

First, select the ultimate end.

The very first thing it’s a must to resolve when “rehabbing” any piece of furnishings is: how can the piece be “enhanced?”

I’m at the start a die exhausting “wooden lover.” Older items which are constructed of wooden we simply don’t see a lot any extra in new, inexpensive furnishings…walnut, cherry, mahogany, teak, rosewood deserve to indicate off their wood magnificence.

Nonetheless, I’ve additionally painted many, many items. Right here’s how I resolve to color or refinish furnishings:

I paint the piece if:

  • it has quite a lot of water injury
  • it has damaged or “bubbled” veneer that wants restore
  • it’s lacking trim items which have to get replaced
  • it’s simply an “outdated” piece with little worth and a POW of shade is what you’re after
  • I would like uniform-looking furnishings
Wish to paint? We’ve received you coated: Learn how to Paint Furnishings, 4 Half Sequence with Evaluations

I refinish the piece if:

  • it’s largely free of harm, or has solely injury that may be corrected
  • it’s totally intact with no lacking items
  • I just like the look of wooden grain and its inherent shade variations

TIP: If you happen to refinish a desk with inserts, be sure to strip, stain and end these on the identical time so they are going to match!

Subsequent, Strip Off the End

Even when you will paint, I recommend stripping off the present end or paint in your piece of wooden furnishings.

In my expertise, you’ll get a far superior outcome if you happen to first strip the piece down to reveal wooden. My tried and true technique doesn’t require a lot sanding both!

Bonus: you’ll be able to choose up all of the paint strippers you want at any dwelling enchancment retailer!

how to refinish carved wooden furniture - Beckwith's Treasures on @Remodelaholic - suppliesMerchandise you will have to strip and refinish wooden furnishings:

Different Misc Provides you might wish to strive;

Sponges to use stain, energy sander if you happen to’d like that sand blasted beachy look,

Learn how to Refinish Wooden Furnishings, Die-Laborious Guidelines

No matter “model” or “interval” of the piece, I’ve a number of “die exhausting” guidelines for stripping and refinishing ANY wooden furnishings. All of us need your venture to prove superb, so please keep in mind:

#1: When stripping previous finishes, there are NO shortcuts. 

Painted or stained or lacquered or a number of finishes, there are zero shortcuts! If you happen to don’t do it proper, your new end will appear to be crud and you should have wasted your time. Settle in and do it proper!


You might be working with chemical compounds! Belief me…splash these items in your pores and skin and it’ll go away a mark! (I put on glasses so I purchased a reasonable pair of glasses to put on whereas I work!) Don’t fiddle, be secure!

#3: Shield your work floor.

Don’t do that on any grass you might be keen on and at all times put one thing disposable (paper, cardboard, plastic, no matter) beneath the piece to catch all of the drips and gunk!

#4: At all times observe every product’s security directions

Bear in mind to verify for or indoor/out of doors use, recent air necessities, and so forth.

Now, let’s get to work!

Learn how to Refinish Furnishings, Step by Step

Step 1: Take away heavy end with Citristrip

If the prevailing end (whether or not varnish, shellac, poly or paint) is actually “heavy” I first coat it with Citristrip.

(If the piece doesn’t have an actual heavy present end or a number of layers of paint, you might not even wish to use Citristrip…use your judgment! Skip to Step 2 and use simply the acetone and lacquer thinner combination.)

To use the Citristrip, I exploit an affordable “chip” brush to use it per the instructions.  In case you are working in a scorching location or really feel just like the venture will want a while, you’ll be able to cowl the citristrip with plastic wrap, to assist hold it from drying out.

After letting that sit a bit, I scrape all of the flat components with a plastic scraper. ALWAYS scrape with the grain of the wooden.

how to refinish carved wooden furniture - Beckwith's Treasures on @Remodelaholic

(For how you can “scrape” all of the turned legs and carvings…see step 2 beneath)

Typically the end melts proper off, different occasions it’s fairly cussed…simply coat it once more with the stripper, let it sit a bit, after which scrape it once more! It could take 2-3 purposes to get all of the “heavy” end off.  Utilizing plastic warp can lengthen the time it’s actively working.

how to refinish wooden furniture - Beckwith's Treasures on @Remodelaholic

Step 2: Scrub with metal wool, acetone and lacquer thinner combination

After eradicating the actually heavy previous end or nearly all of the paint, combine 1/2 acetone and 1/2 lacquer thinner in a glass or metallic bowl.

Utilizing 0000 steel wool, scrub the piece with this combination. That is the easiest way to get the previous end and gel stripper off turned legs and etchings.

With the 0000 metal, I can scrub the piece with out worrying an excessive amount of about damaging the wooden!

This may take away the stripper you couldn’t scrape off and soften the varnish proper off the turns and carvings. Work from the highest down and don’t be afraid to make use of this combination liberally!

tips for refinishingcarved wooden furniture - Beckwith's Treasures on @Remodelaholic

One distinctive software for eradicating previous end….toothbrushes. Use an previous toothbrush to get into all of the corners, grooves and crannies…simply dip it within the acetone/thinner combination and scrub away!

They’re robust sufficient to wash out the crud however gained’t damage the wooden!

Have you ever ever seen a chunk of furnishings that has been refinished and all of the corners and joints are darkish? That’s as a result of they didn’t get all of the previous end off…use a toothbrush and also you gained’t have that downside!

This course of will most likely take a while and elbow grease. I often combine a number of batches of the acetone/thinner and undergo a number of items of metal wool.

I most likely went round this desk 4-5 occasions simply scrubbing with the combination! (That is the place a type of low shop stools on wheels is a again saver!)

how to refinish vintage wooden furniture - Beckwith's Treasures on @Remodelaholic
If you happen to don’t take this course of severely and take away of ALL the previous end, you might be losing your time since you WILL be disenchanted.

Whereas this stripping course of could appear labor intensive, it’s a lot simpler than sanding the previous end off and you might be a lot much less prone to injury the piece.

Which brings me to Step 3…..

Step 3: Sand as little as doable

It’s best to nearly at all times use chemical strippers in case your objective is to take away all of the previous end or paint and solely sand a tad (with the grain…if wanted…220 tremendous grit sandpaper) AFTER you’ve stripped all of the previous end.

Many elderly items (not like this desk) could have veneer. Veneer could be skinny and if you happen to sand too vigorously you are able to do quite a lot of injury!

You’ll NEVER get all of the previous end out of ornamental carvings or turned legs (like this desk) with sandpaper…not taking place!

Additionally, palm sanders have a tendency to depart little “swirly” marks. As faint as they could appear, they’ll be obvious if you happen to apply stain.

Save your self the grief…hand sand with 220 grit paper on the flat surfaces and metal wool on the ornate areas.

SAND WITH THE GRAIN!! Cross grain marks WILL present up if you happen to stain the piece!

how to refinish carved wooden furniture - Beckwith's Treasures on @Remodelaholic - stripped 1

Step 4: Examine your wooden furnishings piece

When you strip all of the previous end, you might be REALLY going to see the “character” (grain) of the wooden.

A number of previous finishes had been utilized with a “multi-layer” course of or had been sprayed on with the stain combined in with the end. This course of was used to provide the piece a extra “uniform” look and conceal the “variations” within the wooden grain.

If you happen to like a extra uniform look than your furnishings piece now exhibits or if you happen to discovered some surprises as you had been working, there is no such thing as a disgrace in deciding to color it!

Additionally, if you happen to discover that your piece now wants some repairs, such because the stripping course of dissolve adhesives (glue) that was used on joints, that’s not an enormous difficulty.

It’s best to strip and stain the piece BEFORE you do any main repairs. Stain is not going to penetrate glue…so if you happen to get any glue on the wooden, it gained’t soak up a stain and will likely be seen eternally!

So, rule of thumb: If you will paint a chunk, restore it BEFORE paint…if you will stain, restore it AFTER stain

how to refinish carved wooden furniture - Beckwith's Treasures on @Remodelaholic - stripped

It took me 4 hours to fully strip all of the previous end off this desk!

Step 5: Clear up with mineral spirits

After you’ve stripped all of the previous end, wash all the piece with clear rags and mineral spirits.

Storage gross sales and thrift shops are nice locations to search out previous towels. Reduce them up into washcloth-size items.


  • Lay them out to dry within the solar.
  • Bag them up after they’re fully dry and have aired out for a number of days!!
  • Don’t bag them with paper or cardboard and hold them separate from family trash!

Whereas washing your piece down with the mineral spirits you might discover a number of spots that want slightly extra “scrubbing” to take away any previous end…not an issue…simply scrub it once more with metal wool or a toothbrush and the acetone/thinner combination after which wash it down with the mineral spirits.

Let the piece dry after which give it a lightweight sanding, if wanted. (Once more, ALWAYS with the grain!) Totally clear off any mud from sanding.

how to strip and restore a dining table - Beckwith's Treaures featured on @Remodelaholic

Step 6:  Apply your new end

As talked about earlier, there are numerous choices right here! If you happen to love the colour of the wooden when it’s moist with mineral spirits, apply a transparent coat end.

If you will paint, observe the producer’s instructions. My favourite end is stain.

Discover the paint you want: 5 Totally different Kinds of Paint for Refinishing Furnishings

Suggestions for utilizing stain to refinish wooden furnishings:

Don’t use stain that has a “end” or “sealer” in it.

If you happen to don’t like the colour, you might be just about caught. Use a stain that requires a separate end. That means, if you happen to aren’t actual eager on the colour, you’ll be able to instantly wipe it off with mineral spirits and even layer one other stain shade on high of it. Make changes to the colour till you might be pleased with it.  After making use of stain wipe off extra stain earlier than permitting to dry totally earlier than ending.

Take into account, totally different woods will stain in another way.

Your finest guess is to stain a small “take a look at” patch on the piece and have mineral spirits and a clear rag helpful to wipe it off if you happen to don’t like the colour.

Tender woods could require a preconditioner for stain to use evenly.

My favourite furnishings end/sealant…

After the stain dries, I personally desire a tung oil end to seal the wooden. Tremendous straightforward to wipe on…just about “fool proof.”

I apply 3-4 coats and sand with 0000 metal wool and wipe with tack material between coats!

The superior factor a couple of tung oil end is it’s tremendous straightforward to “repair” scratches and put on…simply evenly “sand” it with 0000 metal wool, wipe with a tack material and apply one other coat of the end!

Here I focus on the (lack of) distinction between oils. I often “re-oil” the tops of my tables every year…or as wanted.

I desire to NEVER apply poly to stained finishes! I’ve an previous walnut dresser I sealed with poly and I remorse it! Sometime it’s going to get (re)refinished correctly!

My Refinished Vintage Desk

I stained the highest of this desk with a brown walnut stain.

how to refinish carved wooden furniture - after

And I made a decision to make use of a glaze tinted with black paint on the bottom. I like the truth that the glaze permits the wooden grain to indicate by means of!

After the glaze dried I sealed it with 3 coats of tung oil end. My authentic plan was to color the bottom white and I can nonetheless try this in some unspecified time in the future if I select.

how to refinish carved wooden furniture - after1

For now I’m going to depart it because it and simply get pleasure from the fantastic thing about the wooden. That is a type of items that begs for “much less is extra!”

Take pleasure in a comparability of earlier than and after photographs:

How To Refinish Wood Furniture, Before, By Beckwiths Treasures On Remodelaholic

How To Refinish Wood Furniture, After, By Beckwiths Treasures On Remodelaholic

How To Refinish Wood Furniture, Base Before, From Beckwiths Treasures On Remodelaholic

How To Refinish Wood Furniture, Base After, From Beckwiths Treasures On Remodelaholic

How To Refinish Wood Furniture, Leg Before, By Beckwiths Treasures On Remodelaholic

How To Refinish Wood Furniture, Leg After, By Beckwiths Treasures On Remodelaholic

FAQ and notes:

Is it higher to sand or strip Furnishings?

Usually the reply is each.  Relying on the thickness of the end you might begin by making use of a stripper and scrapping off the majority of the end after which sanding the remainder.  If the end is already largely worn off sanding would be the solely step you have to take.

How do you take away wooden mud after sanding?

There’s a product known as tack cloths here.  These lure particles in and take away mud very totally.

Can I exploit a gel stain to complete the wooden?

Gel stains comprise a end contained in the stain, so for one of these venture that kind of stain ought to be prevented.   It’s a good venture for when you don’t sand down or take away a end.  Gel stains act extra like paint, see this railing refinish venture or toilet cupboard replace.

I’ve an vintage furnishings piece, ought to I refinish it?

Do you know that in a worthwhile vintage, that the unique end is vital to the worth of the piece.  In case you are unsure in case your piece has worth, it might be value having it valuated by an skilled earlier than refinishing.  You might selected to discover a skilled to revive or clear the end moderately than refinish.

Any suggestions for sanding?

At all times sand with the grain of the wooden.  The extra coarse sandpaper you begin, the extra sanding you will have to do.  It’s essential to step all the way down to a medium-grit sandpaper and observe up with a tremendous grit earlier than any ending is utilized to the wooden. In any other case you should have a tough end and stain will soak in blotchy.

Learn how to clear grime off of furnishings?

You might not have to refinish a chunk of furnishings if the end is unbroken.  To wash off grime and dirt start by wiping off mud down with a microfiber cloth.

To deep clear a easy mixture of half a cup of distilled white vinegar, half a cup of heat water and a teaspoon of gentle dish cleaning soap like Daybreak will likely be good.

Make sure you wipe off remaining water and it could actually injury wooden when left moist.

Learn how to I refinish a laminate?

When refinishing a laminate piece there are totally different steps you have to observe than when refinishing a stable wooden furnishings piece like this.  Try this tutorial for easy to follow steps.

My piece of furnishings feels wobbly, ought to I refinish it?

Completely, however earlier than refinishing take the time to make the required repairs to strengthen the joints, unfastened veneer and so forth.  Earlier than ending you need the piece to be totally functioning and powerful.  Glues and fillers could impact staining so watch out when making use of.

Glue will cease stain from soaking in to the wooden and ecess ought to be wiped off earlier than drying and sanded off if you happen to missed it and it dried.

Wooden filler pulls in stain in rather more readily than the wooden itself so it might be higher to fill any holes with tinted filler after staining.  If you happen to aren’t positive take a look at it earlier than filling the wooden after which ending it.

Beck, thanks a lot for sharing your know-how with us!

Remodelaholics, head over to Beckwith’s Treasures with all of your questions on refinishing furnishings — and make sure to try her different tasks, too, like this upcycled grandfather clock and how to beef up your door trim.

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A Careful, No Damage Way To Strip And Restore Wooden Furniture On Remodelaholic

Initially revealed 12.27.2014 // Up to date 03.24.2021