DIY Furniture Restoration

Written by misty witenberg
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DIY Furniture Restoration
Bring a piece of antique furniture back to its best condition. (Welsh Dresser image by Hedgehog from

The terms restoring and refinishing furniture are often used interchangeably, but they are not, in fact, the same thing. Refinishing is almost always a step in restoring something, but restoring means also making the item usable again after it has fallen into disrepair.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Dust sheet
  • Goggles
  • Disposable gloves
  • Paintbrush
  • Replacement hardware, if needed
  • Toothbrush
  • Putty knife
  • Steel wool
  • Microfiber cloths
  • 100-grit sandpaper
  • 150-grit sandpaper
  • Carpenter's glue
  • Semi-paste wood stripper
  • Lacquer thinner
  • Stain

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  1. 1

    Prepare your area with a dust sheet under the piece of furniture you are restoring. Put on goggles and disposable gloves.

  2. 2

    Apply a paint stripper with a paintbrush to remove the old finish, wax, polish and dust. Use the toothbrush for crevices. Allow it to set for about two or three minutes, and then use a putty knife to gently scrape the surface to see if the finish can be removed. If it does not come off easily, allow the stripper to set for another couple of minutes before testing again. Once it starts to come off easily, remove the entire finished surface. If the putty knife doesn't work to take off the surface, use steel wool.

  3. 3

    Soak a soft cloth in lacquer thinner, then wipe each stripped section clean.

  4. 4

    Sand all stripped areas with 100- to 150-grit sandpaper. Glue any loose parts back together with carpenter's glue.

  5. 5

    Follow label instructions on wood stain, and work it into all crevices with a clean cloth or brush. Allow it to set for the recommended time. Wipe off excess stain, going with the grain of the wood. Wait 24 hours for the stain to dry.

  6. 6

    Add new hardware, such as handles or drawers, as needed.

Tips and warnings

  • Work in an area that has good ventilation

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