DIY: Restoring Old Furniture In Easy Steps

Wooden furniture has a way of lasting for a long time. Most of us have in our home, one of those tea tables or grand old victorian style makeup tables that we inherited from our grandparents or our parents. Although the woodwork & the designs from the olden days are majestic, this furniture comes to us somewhat wounded by time.

Most of the time, wooden furniture comes with scrapes, spots, coffee-stains, and sometimes even with burns. With some easy-to-get materials and a little bit of our time, we can easily restore this furniture to its old glory. Today we are going to explore how you can restore old furniture yourself.

restoring old furniture
Image by Hebi B. from Pixabay

Essential items that you will require for the restoration

At first, for this process, you will need to run to the store and get some handy tools & some chemical components, if you don’t already have them. Here’s a list of the things you will need-

  • Scraper
  • Work gloves
  • Brushes
  • Dust Mask (must have, if you have an allergy)
  • Steel wool
  • Chemical stripper
  • Mineral spirit
  • Oxalic acid wood bleach
  • Commercial floor wood putty
  • Wood stain/dye
  • Finishing oil
  • Varnish/wax polish
  • Tack rug
  • Sandpaper (you could use a sander if you have it, otherwise no need to buy a new one)

Stripping

This is the first stage of restoring your old furniture. In this stage, we get rid of the old paint and all the spots that you don’t want on your furniture. We’ll go step by step.

Step 1: Use water mixed with soap

Some of the stains on the furniture can be easily removed, using soapy water. Douse a piece of cloth or a rug with some soap water & gently polish over the furniture. Be careful, you don’t want to use it on bare wood. Try to avoid the scrapes & cuts, where the paint is gone & the wood is unprotected.

Step 2: Using stripper

After the soapy water cleanse, prepare for the main stripping part. Pour some of your chemical stripper on the furniture, spread it all over and try to create a thick & even layer on top.

Step 3: Scraping

After putting on the stripper, you will have to wait 25-30 minutes for the chemicals to do their work. After almost half an hour you’ll see a thick layer on your furniture. Use your scraper to gently scrape of this layer. If you put too much pressure while scraping, you can damage the wood.

Also, use a somewhat blunt-edged scraper, so that you don’t take off wood while you are scraping. For thin and round parts, like the legs of the furniture, you will get better results using steel wool to scrape.

Step 4: Polishing & sanding

After scraping, polish the surface with some mineral spirits, using steel wool, to get any leftover stripper residue.

If there is any deep stains, you can use wood bleach to clean it. Apply oxalic acid wood bleach on the part with the stain & then apply it all over the surface you are working on. Applying it to the whole surface makes sure that the furniture looks evenly light. If you apply it just on the portion with the stain, then it may look lighter than the rest of the furniture.

Let the furniture dry for some time. After that, you will need to sand the wood using sandpaper for sanders. Carefully sand around the edges & make sure you completely take out old paints & and uneven wood portions.

sanding wood
Image by ML Santander from Pixabay

Repairs

After sanding, look for damages on the furniture. Fill the scrapes & dents with the commercial floor wood putty that you bought. Try to level it with the surrounding surface. If the dents are too deep, try to fill it with small pieces of wood & then use putty on top of it. Otherwise the putting might collapse on that spot. Create a solid enough base. Scrape or sand putting residues around the spot.

Staining & Finish

This is the final stage of your restoration process. Before we enter this part, make sure you have properly completed the previous stages, otherwise, you may have to start from the top again.

Now let’s try to make your furniture look like new, step by step.

Step 1: Staining

Make sure the furniture is completely dry before starting this process. Spread the stain gel over the furniture using a brush. Make sure to have an even coat of stain all over the surface. Remember the spots that you repaired & used bleaches on? You will have to apply an extra coating on those spots carefully, to make the furniture look even.

Step 2: Applying oil & Varnish

This is the finishing step. After the stainer has set, you will need to apply some of the furniture oil on top of that. A very thin layer of it. Wait for it to dry up. Now apply varnish as the last layer. Some people prefer using furniture wax. Both of them do more or less the same thing, that is to make your furniture look shiny.

One thing you will have to remember at this stage, the colour of your stainer, oil varnish needs to go with the type of wood you are working on.

Before staining make sure you have properly done the previous steps.

Finally, let your furniture dry & now it’s ready for use! You can very easily turn old & raggedy furniture into new by putting in some little effort. It’s also very satisfying when you are able to restore an old furniture to its past glory. It’s also better than going to a professional. Not only do you save a lot of money, but also get to fix the furniture on your own terms. Maybe get your family together & make this a family project. Fun projects like this will go a long way to make the family bond better. All in all, restoring old furniture is fun & if you have one, by all means give it a try.

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