How to Remove Stains & Varnishes From Furniture

Updated February 21, 2017

Stain and varnish help change the look of your wood furniture, and varnishes make the stain shine and add an extra layer of protection. Stains soak deep into the wood where they are impossible to pull out. The only way to remove the wood stain on furniture is to sand it away. Because of this, sanding to remove varnish and stains is the most efficient way to remove these two substances.

Take the doors off stained furniture, if necessary, by unscrewing the screw that holds the door on the hinge.

Remove any hardware from the piece of furniture by unscrewing it and pulling it off. Hardware includes drawer pulls or hinges. Some pieces of furniture may not have any hardware.

Sand the entire piece of furniture with a 100-grit sanding block. Sand in the direction of the wood grain until you've removed all of the stain, the furniture is free of imperfections and is even. The sanding block will help create a smooth and flat surface.

Sand the crevices and curved areas with a piece of 100-grit sandpaper. This will allow you to keep curves without flattening them out.

Sand the entire piece with a fine-grit sanding block and sandpaper such as 240-grit. This will smooth out the piece of furniture and will make it softer.

Brush off as much sawdust as possible with a dry paintbrush.

Soak a clean cloth in clear water and wring out as much of the water as possible to make sure that it does not damage the unfinished wood.

Rub the cloth over the furniture to remove the rest of the sawdust.

Replace the hardware on the piece of furniture and put the doors back on.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • 100-grit sanding block
  • 100-grit sandpaper
  • 240-grit sanding block
  • 240-grit sandpaper
  • Paintbrush
  • Cloth
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About the Author

Kaye Wagner has been working in the fields of journalism and public relations since 2006 and is a recipient of a National Hearst Award. She is particularly interested in home-and-garden projects, as well as beauty and fashion writing. An avid traveler, she also writes travel reviews and guides. Wagner earned a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from Brigham Young University.