Refinishing Oak Furniture

So you've found a piece of art and you'd like to restore it a new look, have you? Well lucky for you, refinishing oak furniture is almost a simple A-B-C procedure. Emphasis is on "almost" - refinishing oak furniture can be as difficult or easy as you're willing to make it.

To protect the aesthetic or appraisal value of your item, you'll want to take care to preserve its original state as closely as possible. When refinishing oak furniture, you're likely to find a few rough spots that need to be smoothed, holes that need filling, or even some pretty grimy sections that could use a good scrubbing!

These are preliminary tasks that if taken care of, will make refinishing oak furniture well worth the effort.

First Things First

First things first - part of refinishing oak furniture demands that you remove all the handles attached to the furniture and clean its wood thoroughly with warm water and soap.

When dry, run your hands along the wood and lightly sand away any rough areas you find with find sandpaper or steel wool. Next, fill in any nail or screw holes that you find with appropriate wood filler.

If necessary, repair things like loose legs or stuck drawers.

Dealing with an old finish

Before you begin refinishing oak furniture, you may need to remove the old finish first. This isn't always a prerequisite - sometimes an old finish adds to the quality of the new finish! You'll definitely want to remove a thick layer of wax however with either wax remover or turpentine.

Gearing up for the new finish

Be sure that you've removed all the dust from the furniture. Use brushes, vacuums, pick-sticks - anything that will get all the dust out of the piece that you're working on. (In case you didn't know, "pick-sticks" are the sharp ends of dowels and they're great for picking up 'gunk' that hangs out in tight corners and small spaces.) We're not sure if it can be emphasized enough: successfully refinishing oak furniture demands a dust free surface!

Next, you'll want to apply a ground coat to the piece in with stokes in a single direction. While refinishing oak furniture, you don't want to crisscross your strokes or apply the ground coat in a side-to-side fashion. Your strokes should overlap, but you don't want to create an uneven thickness. Be on the look out for drips or sags. If you see any of those, it means you applied too much. Remove excess ground with a dry brush.

Let that dry for at least twenty-four hours.

The Fun Part

Okay, now you're ready for giving your refinishing oak furniture efforts that unique look. Take your glaze and coat your piece with a thin application. Let this dry for about ten or fifteen minutes so that it gets a little sticky. Using a sponge, wipe the glaze in a slow, single-direction motion so that you can create the look that you want.

If you're not satisfied with your first efforts, you can remove everything with a solvent and start over. And if that makes you nervous - try your stroking techniques on an unused piece of wood first. You can experiment with different glazes ranging from natural wood colors to opaque pastels or even marble.

See Also:
Storage Cabinets