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How to Finish Wood

You’ve bought this wonderful piece of wooden furniture at a garage sale, or a thrift store, or even an antique store, and now you’re asking yourself how to make it look new again. Most wooden furniture can look amazing with a little bit of time and elbow grease. I’m going to show you step by step how to finish wood furniture, bringing back the luster and shine that it once had.

Before beginning your project, make sure that you have all necessary tools and materials. If you are stripping the furniture first, then make sure you have the finish remover, as well as brush cleaning solvents. You will also need a good supply of newspapers and clean rags nearby. Remove all of the hardware and any pieces that are not permanently attached to the furniture and finish them separately. It is important that you read all of the product labels completely, and that you understand everything involved. Finally, you should always wear rubber gloves and safety goggles, while working outside or in a very well-ventilated area.

If you must strip the furniture, then you will need to buy a good quality paint and varnish remover. Use a paint brush, preferably an old one that can be thrown out later, and spread the remover on the furniture, one small area at a time. Make sure that you are only doing it in one direction. After the remover has soaked into the surface, the finish should be soft down to the wood. This normally takes about 10 to 20 minutes. Scrape the finish off with a putty knife, make sure it’s not too sharp or it will damage the wood. If you have grooved surfaces, then you can use an old toothbrush or coarse twine to help remove the finish. You will also want to wipe off the tools frequently, using the newspapers for this task.

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Depending on the furniture, you may also need to remove the old finish from the pores of the wood. A stiff bristle brush or a piece of medium gauge steel wool soaked with remover will take care of this. Rub the wood with quite a bit of pressure, with the grain, and then you are ready to proceed. Once the finish is completely removed from the wood, you will need to wipe it dry with your clean cloths. Now would also be a good time to use some turpentine and wipe down the wood one more time to make sure that all the remover is gone from the surface.

The next step when learning how to finish wood furniture is sanding. After you have removed all the finish from the wood, you will need to sand the surface as smooth as possible before you can apply any finish to the wood. The better job you do here, the better the finished project will be at the end. Sand with the grain of the wood, beginning with medium grit sandpaper and working your way to the finer grades. The best way to make sure that you get the surfaces even is to use a sanding block on the flat surfaces. You will need to cut the sandpaper into strips, though, in order to get the curved surfaces. If you have trouble with this, you can also use fine steel wool. Once you are done sanding, take care to remove all of the dust from the wood.

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After sanding, you may need to bleach your wood. When you are first learning how to finish wood, you may notice stains in the wood or desire the piece to be a lighter color. You can use wood bleach to alter the color as needed. Make sure that you read all of the directions before starting. There isn’t much to this step, so we’ll continue to the next one.

Staining the wood is where you’ll actually start to see the finished product emerging. The stain will help emphasize the grain of the wood, or can even make it look like a completely different type of wood. You should only apply stain to clean, dry, smoothly sanded wood. There are many different types of stain, but probably the easiest to use is the Penetrating Resin Stain. All that is required is to apply it generously to the wood and let it soak for up to an hour, depending on how dark you want the piece to be. When you’re ready, simply wipe off the excess stain with clean rags, apply a coat of wax, and you are finished. There is no need to apply varnish at this point, because the Penetrating Resin Stain takes care of that part for you.

As you can see, there are only a few steps to be aware of when learning how to finish wood products, turning them from junk into treasures. The most important thing is that you are completely thorough with each step. If you slack at all, you will most likely not get the finish that you are looking for.

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