Friday, June 3, 2011

Re-Uphostering Furniture Part 1: Refinishing Wood

Old furniture can become new again, but I won't lie - it takes time and effort.


Currently, I am re-upholstering 2 mis-matched arm-chairs that a client found for cheap at a 2nd-hand store. By the time I am finished they be new matching chairs.

First we had to make the wood legs match which required refinishing.

*The following steps can be used to re-finish any kind of wood furniture*


Tools & Materials:

- safety googles
- Flat-head screw-driver and needle nose pliers (to remove upholstery staples)
- electric palm sander
- detail sander (for fine detail)
- heavy and fine grit sand-paper
- wood conditioner
- wood stain
- paint brush
- lint-free rag
- varathane/polyurethane finish


Step 1: Pull old fabric away from legs to fully expose them.


If the piece you are working on needs to be re-upholstered - do not remove fabric sections entirely (you will do that later), just pull it back enough to fully expose the wood. Be careful not to damage the fabric pieces too much, and keep whole pieces as intact as possible.

Be sure to wear safety googles when pulling upholsetry staples - sometimes they can really fly!


Step 2: Sand off old finish.


Here's where a lot of the work in refinishing furniture comes. To do it properly, ALL of the old finish needs to be removed - which means you need to take everything including every nook and cranny right down to the wood. (if your furniture has a lot of classic details - you will need a detail sander to do this)

To make this a little easier I like to start with a heavy grit sand-paper which takes the old finish off quickly. Once the old finish is removed the wood will need to be sanded again with a fine grit sand-paper to smooth everything out.

Once all sanding is complete, brush sawdust off of wood, and clean wood with a damp rag. Clean up all sawdust in surrounding area, and allow wood to dry thoroughly.


Step 3: Pre-treat wood with a wood conditioner.


Follow instructions on label.


Step 4: Apply wood stain.


Do not shake stain to mix - stir. If you're working on a large project, you will need to stir your stain several times during the job to maintain uniformity. Once your stain is adequately mixed, use a paint brush, or in this case foam brush to paint the wood with a coat of stain. More recently I have become a fan of water-based stains because I find they saturate well, and they clean up with soap and water, which just makes life easier.


Let the stain sit for no more than 3 minutes. Dampen a lint-free rag with stain, and rub on wood in the direction of the wood grain. Allow to dry (at least 2 hours). Repeat process with additional coats until desired colour is achieved (in this case I only needed 2). Allow to dry thoroughly.



Step 5: Apply protective finish.


In a well ventilated area, cover wood with a clear varnish. In this case I applied 2 coats of an aerosol Varathane. Allow to dry thoroughly according to directions on label.

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