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How to Restore a Wood Steering Wheel

Updated February 21, 2017

Wood steering wheels are uncommon but elegant additions to a classic or modern vehicle. The downside of a wood steering wheel is that it ages similar to any wood furnishing. Use and age removes existing finishes and creates cracks in the surface of the wood. Restoring the steering wheel requires removing the existing finish, repairing any cracks and refinishing the item. The process takes time to complete properly but results in a like-new steering wheel.

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  1. Brush the wood stripper onto the steering wheel following the directions on the packaging. Most applications use a paintbrush to apply the stripper to the material. Allow the stripper to set on the steering wheel so it penetrates into the wood.

  2. Rub stripping pads over the surface of the steering wheel to pull up the existing finish. Rub the pads over the steering wheel in a manner similar to sanding while paying close attention to the corners and grooves. Clean the steering wheel with soapy water and a sponge to remove any residual chemicals.

  3. Fill any cracks or crevasses with a stainable wood putty using a putty knife to press the material into the cracks. Drag the putty knife over the surface of the cracks to smooth out the top of the repair.

  4. Sand the steering wheel lightly with 220-grit sandpaper to remove any rough spots or raised areas.

  5. Apply a wood lacquer or stain over the steering wheel. A stain that incorporates a lacquer provides the colour desired while finishing the steering wheel with a high-gloss sheen.

  6. Tip

    You can work on the steering wheel while it is mounted inside the vehicle, if desired, Alternatively, you can remove the steering wheel and secure it to a work bench or other surface. You can drive a bolt and washer through the centre hole on the steering wheel into a scrap block of wood to create a stable stand for the project.

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Things You'll Need

  • Wood stripper
  • Paintbrush
  • Stripping pads
  • Sponge
  • Soapy water
  • Wood putty
  • Putty knife
  • 220-grit sandpaper
  • Wood lacquer or stain

About the Author

John Walker
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