Today I intend to offer a few tips to bring your antique hardwood furniture back to life.
Below you can see my latest project. I refinished this inherited table from my wife's family. When I received the table, it was falling apart and basically non-functional. After some basic structural repairs I was ready for the refinishing portion of the project.
There are many ways to tackle your refinishing project, so it really depends on your application when reviewing which technique to implore. For my project, the table had lost all of it's protective finish and was starting to lose it's stain in certain areas due to wear.
I started by sanding the entire table, a chore that must be done meticulously if you want a smooth wood finish. It is imperative to understand that stain will not hide any old stain, blemishes, or wine/coffee stains.
Simply put, it's stain. Therefore it will only "stain" what is already there. If you lack the time or will power to sand your piece down, I would suggest either painting it or of course hiring me! Sanding is not for everyone, it can be very tedious and boring. So be sure to consider your options prior to diving in.
Once you have the piece completely sanded, choose the type of stain and apply it with an old rag or T-shirt. Your old college T-shirts work well because they lack the lint a new t-shirt may have.
Applying the stain with a piece of cloth keeps you in control of the amount of stain you are applying. Apply a second and third coat if you want the piece darker.
For the final step you will have to choose what type of protective finish you want on your piece. There are 3 types of finishes for you to choose from.
Wax offers a nice shiny finish that bring out the luster that hard woods can offer. I don't personally care for wax because it offers little to no protection against scratches and wear.
You may not care about this downfall if it is a piece that gets minimal use, such as a bookshelf. But in addition to it's lack of protective qualities, I liken wood finishing wax to rubbing chap-stick all over your furniture. Every time you touch the piece you feel like you have to wash the greasy residue off your hands.
Polyurethane offers a nice shiny finish (or matte if you prefer) with the additional benefit of durability.
With Polyurethane, you are essentially applying a film of plastic (hence the pre-fix “poly”) over your furniture that will harden to form a smooth, soft, and durable finish.
It can be tricky to apply however. You must be careful to use long even strokes and keep the finish even. I suggest a sponge brush, and steering clear of cheap bristled brushes. The last thing you want in this process is to have a bristle detach from the cheepo brush and bury itself in your dining room table.
Sand with 320 grit sand paper in between coats and do not shake the can to mix it. Shaking will introduce bubbles that will transfer to your finish. Stirring is the way to go with Polyurethane.
#3 Tung Oil
I chose Tung oil for my project below as a referral from my wife's father. He notes that Tung Oil is produced by pressing the seeds from the nut of a Tung tree. If you are taking a holistic or "green" approach to your furniture refinishing project, then tung oil may be your go-too.
I like the way the tung oil finish came out, so thanks for the referral!
With Tung oil, you rub the finish on similar to the way you rub stain into wood.
Most Tung oil instructions will tell you to rub the oil into the wood the way you rub wax on your car. Then they want you to sand the finish with a fine steel wool.
After trying this method I saw no benefit. I suggest rubbing 3 coats of the finish on and putting your furniture back in use.
Refinishing beloved hardwood pieces brings me great joy and satisfaction. Whether it is my own, or a project I take on for one of my customers. I feel that your furniture frames the memories you create in your home.
For help refinishing your furniture please give me a call!
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