Restoring Wooden Furniture

restoring wooden furniture

Many people have an old wooden table or some wooden chairs knocking around the house. I tend to be given first refusal on lots of old wooden furniture my family don’t want or need anymore, but often the furniture is dark and drab. It is very easy, given a bit of time, to bring back the original colour to an old piece of wooden furniture, and help it blend in with a modern house.


The first thing you should do is clean the piece well using warm soapy water. Once it is clean and dry, get yourself some protective gloves and apply a good coat of paint stripper (multi purpose stripper is fine). Leave this on for the recommended time to allow it to penetrate the varnish. Now take some fine wire wool and gently remove the softened varnish. When the piece of wire wool you are using is clogged with the old finish, replace it with a new piece. When the old finish is removed, use fine abrasive paper and sand the piece in the direction of the grain until you get it back to the original wood.

Restoring the Grain

Use a lint free cloth (a tack cloth or similar) with a bit of white spirit to wipe down all areas of the piece of furniture. This will get rid of any dust from the sanding and neutralize the paint stripper (if you don’t make sure the stripper is neutralized, the new finish may be affected). Now take some Wood Restorer, which is readily available from DIY stores, and using a clean lint free cloth, apply to the wood in a circular motion. This will help to restore the grain and erase any sanding marks.

Applying a Finish

You now have a choice of which finish you want to use. You could stain the piece, varnish it, wax it or even paint it. Chairs are often best varnished as this provides a nice solid coat. However tables, etc, can look great with a coat or two of wax. For this example, we went with Danish Oil, which provides a nice dark finish. Apply the oil in small circular movements, using a soft cloth. Take your time and try to keep the application even. Once the whole piece is covered, leave to dry for the recommended time and then apply a second and third coat. Leave the oil to fully absorb into the wood before polishing it up with a dry cloth.