Refinishing Wood Furniture

February 23, 2005

Brew very strong tea, 3 or 4 tea bags for one cup. Let cool and dab the wood with the tea or use the bags directly!

By Kathleen


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11 Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

September 26, 2019

How do I refinish areas of a kitchen table or end tables (solid wood) that have worn thin. I believe the current finish is not varnish, but a polyurethane finish.

I would like to do this without sanding as I have only local areas that show (arms, small areas on tops) distress.


September 27, 20190 found this helpful

Good luck on this because sanding needs to be done in order to remove the old finish so you can apply the new finish. Furthermore, if you have no idea what the finish is on the table it will be hard to match and look really bad when it is done. Normally in cases like yours the table should be stripped down and refinished all at once. This way the color can be matched and it will look good in he end. The way you want to do this will not really work and in the end you'll have a mess and have to strip it all down and start over.

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September 27, 20190 found this helpful

You should sand the whole top and refinish. Otherwise it will look like a patch job.

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September 28, 20190 found this helpful

I can understand why you would like to try this short-cut but what if it goes wrong and makes a mess?
Are you willing to try something and if it does not work out, go the whole route of resanding and the works?
Be sure of this before you start as no one can tell you what a patch job will look like and I have seen some that worked - but they knew what type of finish was on their table.

I would suggest you take several pictures - from all angles - and take them to a good hardware store (Ace or True Value may work) or a large paint store and talk to them about what you would like to try.
I have received some very good advice and instructions from Ace as well as a local paint store.
At least they can tell you what to try or if you should just forget it.

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September 29, 20190 found this helpful

The paint will not adhere to your table without some sanding, you could look into paints that have built in primer. Be sure to read for different finishes!

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September 30, 20190 found this helpful

If you are planning to restain, I suggest you get all of the old varnish off--using a varnish remover and sand. This is the only way you will get a nice even finish and have it look good.

When I first started refinishing furniture in the 1970s, I tried short cuts, they never worked and I always was sorry and had to double the work to get a nice product.

Now there are lots and lots of good YouTube videos to help and the products today are so much better so it is time consuming, but worth it to do it right the first time.

Post back with your finished product!

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November 18, 2014

How do you know what base varnish or stain was used if your refinishing an old yard sale table? What product can I use as a base primer so all the other mediums I use will adhere? And I'd like to know if I can use oil or acrylic to paint a picture on the top surface of the table then vanish over the picture after the medium dries to keep the mural?

By Ali


December 5, 20170 found this helpful

To get new paint to adhere, you will need to sand the table down. Paint won't adhere to varnish (it will to stain but the stain may bleed through). So, sand it down. Then paint it with a primer. If it bleeds through the primer in any spots, you will need to apply a second coat. After that drys well, you can paint and do your picture. After your picture is very good and dry, put a clear wood/pain shellac over it. You will want more than one coat of the shellac--follow the directions on the can, as some require a light sanding in between coats.

We have done this with several old tables. Only, instead of painting a picture, we paint a checker board. They sit on our front porch and get used every year during our annual July 4 parties and fall bonfires.

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December 6, 20170 found this helpful

You can use TSP to remove the finish, then paint.

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August 12, 2016

I've been asked to put a urethane finish on a table that was oiled over raw poplar wood with mineral oil. What do I use to strip out the mineral oil?


February 27, 20170 found this helpful

I doubt you can remove it all. You could try naphtha.. It will thin oil and bring it to the top and you can blot up what you can. You will need to repeat that numerous times, using clean towels each time.

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January 20, 2016

I have a new sofa. The wood trim was much darker than my other furniture. I decided to paint and glaze it to match. The match is very close, but the new color isn't complementary with the upholstery.

I want to get back to original color. Is it best to repaint and glaze or strip and restain? There is only one thin coat of paint and thin glaze on it now.


September 21, 20170 found this helpful

You would be better off stripping it and restraining. It might not go over the glaze evenly.

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May 29, 2012

I refinished a wood/veneer china cabinet. I sanded it down the best I could. The top to the bottom piece was sanded down to bare wood and that's what's giving me the hardest time. I have 3 coats of a semi gloss enamel (with built in primer) on it. Then I took a polyurethane and stain product and "antiqued" over the paint. Most of it's fine, but the bottom section is still tacky after 3 days in air conditioning (Eastern MD).

I've refinished furniture before and never had this problem.

By Susan H


May 30, 20120 found this helpful

You could the wood colored crayons you can buy them at Home Depot or any place that sells wood.

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September 16, 2010

I want to refinish some dark oak chairs and do them in a lighter stain. I used a citrus based product from Home Depot, while it had a nice smell, and was not toxic it really did not do a good job. I might add this one chair took me five hours and it still needs work in places. What have others used? Thank you in advance!

By Sandi from Scotland, CT


September 18, 20100 found this helpful

I stripped my banister a few years ago and used a stripper I got from Home Depot. It worked great came off the first use. I know that the non toxic doesn't always work well. But do you want to spend hours or get it off the first time. Good Luck.

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May 20, 2019

Cedar chests have been prized for storage for many generations but some chests have damage over time. A coat of paint or stain can revamp old cedar chests and make them attractive for many more years of use.

After photo.

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August 29, 2018

This is a page about refinishing teak outdoor furniture. After a few seasons outdoor you may find that your teak patio furniture is looking dry and discolored. Here are some great tips for restoring their beauty and helping that last longer.

Refinishing Teak Outdoor Furniture - oiled and dry furniture, table and chairs

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August 22, 2018

Over sanding when refinishing furniture typically results in low spots or divots where you tried to remove a stain or other imperfection. The resulting damage can be lessened. However, sometimes differences in wood color and texture on a piece of furniture may be due to the use of multiple types of wood. This is a page about salvaging over sanded furniture.

refinished dresser

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July 5, 2017

A light sanding can help smooth out wood for finishing. This is a page about sanding wood with cardboard.

Use a piece of cardboard instead of fine sandpaper on wood.

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