How to Restore Old Wooden Chairs

Updated February 21, 2017

Furniture restoration is a popular and effective method of recycling older furniture and adding a new look to your home. Restoration of solid wood furniture is a matter of knowing a few steps, having an eye for detail and following a few safety precautions. Out with the old and in with the new: it's as simple as that.

Turn on your fan facing outside to ventilate the room. Place your chair onto a dust sheet. Pour stripper onto a clean rag and wipe onto the chair. Use a new rag when necessary to ensure that fresh stripping chemical is being rubbed into every crevice of the wood. Take your time, start at the top of the chair and work your way down. Allow the stripper to evaporate for one hour after use. Wipe away residue with clean, dry rags.

Inspect the chair and use wood putty to repair any holes or scratches. Allow the putty to set for one hour before sanding. Sand away any finish that is still present, any putty spots, and any imperfections. Always sand with the grain of the wood. Wipe away any dust and debris with clean rags.

Pour furniture stain onto a rag and wipe it evenly onto the hair. Start at the top of the chair and work your way to the bottom. Take your time and rub the stain into every crevice of the wood. Allow the stain to dry overnight.

Reapply stain to the chair by repeating Step 3.

Spray polyurethane onto the chair. Hold the can 8 to 12 inches from the surface of the wood. Depress the button and sweep the can from side to side while releasing the button at the end of each pass. This will produce a fine mist that evenly covers the wood. Start at the top and work your way down the chair, being sure to hit every crevice without making runs.


The chemicals used in furniture refinishing pose hazards to humans, pets and the environment. Always read and follow all manufacturer's recommendations before and during use of these, or any, chemicals. Always wear appropriate safety equipment such as rubber gloves, respirator and safety glasses when using chemicals. Always be sure to work either outside or in a well ventilated area when using chemicals. Please dispose of any used dust sheets, rags, gloves or other chemical covered equipment and supplies in a safe, legal and environmentally sound manner.

Things You'll Need

  • Furniture-stripping chemical
  • Wood stain
  • Spray polyurethane
  • Fan
  • Dust sheets
  • Clean, dry rags
  • Safety glasses
  • Respirator
  • Rubber gloves
  • Fine sandpaper
  • Wood putty
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About the Author

After learning electronics in the U.S. Navy in the 1980s, Danny Donahue spent a lifetime in the construction industry. He has worked with some of the finest construction talent in the Southeastern United States. Donahue has been a freelance writer since 2008, focusing his efforts on his beloved construction projects.