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How to Refinish Furniture: Step-by-Step Video and Free Download
It’s no surprise that refinishing furniture has become an incredibly popular DIY project over the course of the past 20 years or so. The fact is, most factory furniture is quite expensive, and usually not as well constructed as pieces built 70, 80, or even 100 years ago.
Of course, with time, comes wear, and those old pieces of furniture—while beautiful and well-crafted—will eventually end up looking tired and in need of a new finish. The good news is that the old white oak nightstand you buy at a flea market for a song can be easily refinished for well-under $100 and can offer another lifetime worth of service. You just need to understand the steps involved, pay attention to the details, and take your time.
A Word on Safety
But before you head off to the hardware store to load up on finishing and refinishing supplies, it’s important to get a handle on how to safely handle the chemicals involved in the stripping process. Furniture strippers are caustic chemicals that give off potentially harmful vapors, so your first step is gearing up.
- Use chemical strippers in a well-ventilated area like an open garage.
- Chemical strippers are often combustible, so lay out used rags to dry thoroughly before throwing them away.
- Allow used stripper to dry out in a non-metal container before disposing of according to your local regulations concerning paints and hazardous chemicals.
Never dump chemical strippers down the drain or in the yard.
How to Strip and Refinish Furniture
Professional furniture finisher Peter Gedrys takes you through every step of the furniture stripping and refinishing process in this five-part video series.
Step 1-Stripping the Old Finish: Learn how to safely and effectively remove an old furniture finish using a methylene chloride stripper.
Step 2-Surface Preparation: Learn how to prepare your stripped furniture for a final finish. Peter Gedrys demonstrates proper sanding techniques, and shows you how to thoroughly clean the wood for final finishing.
Step 3-Sealing and Coloring with Shellac: Shellac is a versatile furniture finish that can be used as either a sealer coat, color enhancer, or both. In this segment, Gedrys mixes his own shellac finish from flakes but remember, you can purchase clear or amber-colored shellac pre-mixed at your local hardware store.
Step 4-How to Apply Varnish: Peter Gedrys adds a bit of warm color to his oak table and shows you how to apply a beautiful clear finish using varnish and shellac.
Step 5-Rubbing Out the Finish: Learn how to turn a good finish into a fine finish by "rubbing out" your furniture finish for a smooth, satiny look.