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Methods to Refinish Wooden Furnishings

Observe this tried and examined methodology 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 you additionally learn our suggestions for portray furnishings with completely different paint sorts, the right way to stop tannin (knot) bleedthrough, and the right way to stain wooden any coloration. 

how to refinish ornate wood furniture by Beckwiths Treasures on Remodelaholic


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

by Beck from Beckwith’s Treasures

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

So you could have a bit of furnishings you’re keen on, but it surely’s needing some consideration. Right here’s my course of, begin to end based mostly off years of expertise, that will help you refinish it proper!

This superb vintage eating desk was actually caked with outdated, crackled varnish so it’s the excellent piece to share!

Sooner or later 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Stripping the outdated end off intricate items like this ornate base may seem to be a frightening process…

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

And the thick, bubbly outdated end appears to be like so everlasting, however you are able to do this!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

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 you must determine when “rehabbing” any piece of furnishings is: how can the piece be “enhanced?”

I’m firstly a die onerous “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 point out off their wood magnificence.

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

I paint the piece if:

  • it has a number 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 coloration is what you’re after
  • I would like uniform-looking furnishings
Need to paint? We’ve bought you lined: Methods to Paint Furnishings, 4 Half Collection with Evaluations

I refinish the piece if:

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

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

Subsequent, Strip Off the End

Even when you’ll paint, I counsel stripping off the present end or paint in your piece of wooden furnishings.

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

Bonus: you may choose up all of the merchandise you want at any dwelling enchancment retailer!

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

  • Citristrip (1/2 gallon, $20)
  • An inexpensive “chip” brush ($1.50)
  • Flat, plastic scraper (lower than $2)
  • Acetone (Crown, 1 gallon, $17)
  • Lacquer Thinner (Crown, 1 gallon, $18)
  • 0000 Metal Wool ($4)
  • Mineral Spirits ($8)
  • An outdated toothbrush (by no means toss an outdated toothbrush)
  • Protecting Gloves ($5)
  • Metallic/glass bowl (For straightforward mixing, I purchase the massive 8 cup measuring cups at thrift shops and storage gross sales!)
  • Outdated towels/store rags
  • Something disposable to guard your work floor (plastic drop material, outdated newspapers, flattened cardboard)
  • New end of your alternative (Paint, stain and oil, clear coat, and so on.) and the instruments to use it

Methods to Refinish Wooden Furnishings, Die-Exhausting Guidelines

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

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

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


You’re working with chemical substances! 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 cheap 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) below the piece to catch all of the drips and gunk!

#4: At all times observe every product’s security directions for indoor/outside use, contemporary air necessities, and so on.

Now, let’s get to work!


Methods to Refinish Furnishings, Step by Step

Step 1: Take away heavy end with Citristrip

If the present end (whether or not varnish, shellac, poly or paint) is absolutely “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, it’s possible you’ll not even need to use Citristrip…use your judgment! Skip to Step 2 and use simply the acetone and lacquer thinner combination.)

To use the Citristrip, I take advantage of an inexpensive “chip” brush to use it per the instructions.

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

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


(For the right way to “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 functions to get all of the “heavy” end off.

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 outdated end or the vast majority of the paint, combine 1/2 acetone and 1/2 lacquer thinner in a glass or metallic bowl.

Utilizing 0000 metal wool, scrub the piece with this combination. That is the easiest way to get the outdated 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 can 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 device for eradicating outdated end….toothbrushes. Use an outdated 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 clean out the crud however gained’t harm the wooden!

Have you ever ever seen a bit 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 outdated end off…use a toothbrush and also you gained’t have that drawback!

This course of will most likely take a while and elbow grease. I normally 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 kind of low store stools on wheels is a again saver!)

how to refinish vintage wooden furniture - Beckwith's Treasures on @Remodelaholic
In case you don’t take this course of critically and take away of ALL the outdated end, you might be losing your time since you WILL be disillusioned.

Whereas this stripping course of could appear labor intensive, it’s a lot simpler than sanding the outdated 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 is best to nearly at all times use chemical strippers in case your objective is to take away all of the outdated end or paint and solely sand a tad (with the grain…if wanted…220 grit) AFTER you could have stripped all of the outdated end.

Many aged items (not like this desk) could have veneer. Veneer may be skinny and in case you sand too vigorously you are able to do a number of injury!

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

Additionally, palm sanders have a tendency to depart little “swirly” marks. As faint as they could appear, they’re going to be evident in case you 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 in case you 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 outdated end, you might be REALLY going to see the “character” (grain) of the wooden.

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

In case you like a extra uniform look than your furnishings piece now reveals or in case you discovered some surprises as you have been working, there isn’t any disgrace in deciding to color it!

Additionally, in case you 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 situation.

It’s best to strip and stain the piece BEFORE you do any main repairs. Stain won’t penetrate glue…so in case you get any glue on the wooden, it gained’t take up a stain and shall be seen endlessly!

So, rule of thumb: If you’ll paint a bit, restore it BEFORE paint…if you’ll stain, restore it AFTER stain


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

It took me 4 hours to utterly strip all of the outdated end off this desk!

Step 5: Clear up with mineral spirits

After you could have stripped all of the outdated end, wash your complete piece with clear rags and mineral spirits.

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


  • Lay them out to dry within the solar.
  • Bag them up after they’re utterly 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 it’s possible you’ll discover a number of spots that want a little bit extra “scrubbing” to take away any outdated 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 light-weight 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 various choices right here! In case you love the colour of the wooden when it’s moist with mineral spirits, apply a transparent coat end.

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

Discover the paint you want: 5 Totally different Varieties 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.

In case you don’t like the colour, you might be just about caught. Use a stain that requires a separate end. That means, in case you aren’t actual eager on the colour, you may instantly wipe it off with mineral spirits and even layer one other stain coloration on prime of it. Make changes to the colour till you might be proud of it.

Bear in mind, completely different woods will stain in another way.

Your greatest wager is to stain a small “check” patch on the piece and have mineral spirits and a clear rag useful to wipe it off in case you don’t like the colour.

My favourite furnishings end…

After the stain dries, I personally choose a tung oil end. 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!

Right here I focus on the (lack of) distinction between oils. I normally “re-oil” the tops of my tables yearly…or as wanted.

I NEVER apply poly to stained finishes! I’ve an outdated walnut dresser I sealed with poly and I remorse it! Sometime it should 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 point out by means of!

After the glaze dried I sealed it with 3 coats of tung oil end. My unique 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 kind of items that begs for “much less is extra!”

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

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



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 you try her different tasks, too, like this upcycled grandfather clock and the right way to beef up your door trim.

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

Initially printed 12.27.2014 // Up to date 03.24.2021

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