Refinishing Furniture in /A/MY Style

If there is one thing to learn about refinishing furniture is that it requires an insane amount of patience.  It’s definitely not the easiest thing in the world, demanding a lot of time, space and ventilation!

Here are some before pictures of classic, antique pieces I’d received from my Grandmother.

Desk "Before"China Cabinet "Before"

Step 1:


Remove all drawers and hardware.  I found that a sanding block works the best.  It covers a lot of area and allows you to go to town.  This isn’t a quick step.  Just when you think you’re done, sand some more!  Make sure you’re getting as close to the bare wood as you can.

Step 2:

Stripping the Finish

This is part of the process where you need to be in a well ventilated area. With a clear weather forecast, I set up shop on the back porch working on this large project outside.  Be very careful.  The product I chose to use to strip the old stain is: Zip Strip.

Cover the area liberally with newspaper.  Use full length rubber gloves.  Have a bucket of water on hand; if any of the product comes into contact with skin, you’ll need to immediately rinse the area.

Apply Zip Strip to all areas of the furniture.  Don’t be shy.  Use an inexpensive paint brush for application that will later be disposed of.   Zip Strip has a texture similar to rubber cement.  Watch for it to begin to bubble over the surface.  At that point you can use a metal scrapper to begin removing the layers of stain.

Zip Strip Stripping the Finish

Depending on the depth of the stain, you may have to repeat the process to strip away more color.  The scrapings that come off of the piece need to be collected and disposed of properly as the product is flammable.  Again, this is not the cleanest phase and requires precautions.

Step 3:


After the wood has had time to set and dry after stripping the finish, a tack cloth is required to wipe down any excess dust or debris.  The staining process then comes into play with three products: Pre-Stain, Stain and Polyurethane.

I recommend applying the products with a foam roller and/or foam brush.  Also have a clean cloth on hand to smooth the stain.  I actually used something called a “staining pad”.  This product is a foam block covered in terry cloth.  It made for an even application.  Apply a careful eye to watch for air bubbles or drips.  Ensure you have a smooth, clean finish with the stain.

Tack Cloth Minwax, Sherwin Williams Stains

Step 4:

Enjoy the Handiwork

The after pictures are here!  The process is well worth the sweat and tears.  I take pride in reviving old pieces that have been in the family.  I’m now able to use and enjoy them everyday!
China Cabinet

China CabinetDesk


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