Refurbishing Wood

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Years of use can dull or stain wooden items such as floors or cabinets. This is a page about refurbishing wood.


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I need to use a cane, but balk at the prices I've seen. I recently found a nice folding cane for $1.00 at a second hand store--the kind that usually costs $20 to $30. The cane is metal with a wooden handle. The handle looked terrible because the wood had been coated with a dark plastic finish that had partially flaked off exposing the white pine wood underneath. I used my Dremel to sand off all of the plastic and sanded the handle smooth. I then made some very strong tea and painted the handle with it. The tea stained the pine a nice golden brown hue. When it was completely dry, I used furniture oil as a finish.

I will NOT use a varnish or paint on it, several good coats of oil is all the finish it needs. I did not waste money buying wood stain and varnish, I simply used the same techniques our forefathers used and have a really nice cane for $1.00. There are many things you can use to stain wood or dye fabric if you think about it, I could have used coffee for a darker stain. My husband had actually suggested that I use blackberry juice to give the handle a reddish brown color. Using natural dyes is economical as well as being eco friendly.


Source: My own idea, but there are many books on natural dyes if you want to experiment.

By Di

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I have my mom's Hope Chest from 1942. The inside is cedar; the outside is a very thin layer of veneer over some type of wood. It's in pretty bad shape. I was wondering if I could buy some of that thin veneer, glue it over the four sides, then make a tapestry lid and end up with a coffee-table looking thing (extra storage). I would have to buy four short/squat legs and somehow finish the corners of the veneer after I get that glued on. Does anyone know where I could buy thin veneer?


Carolyn from Shreveport, Louisiana


May 20, 20080 found this helpful

Dear Caroline Hoping to help you with your hope chest, I think your hope chest is worth more then you think my mother gave hers to my daughter and she got hers in 1925 from my dad and she was offered 1,000 for it my daughter finished it and it looks like brand new and she uses it as a coffe table I think you should sand the outside and go to a paint store like lowes or home Depot and they could tell you what you could use for the outside of your hope chest they do not make chest like those any longer.I think the outside is cedar also, so be careful not to ruin it Take care

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By OrahLee (Guest Post)
May 23, 20080 found this helpful

I'd go to one of the woodworkers specialty stores. In our Yellow Pages they are under "Woodworking and Supplies" and you can get all sorts of wood products--- veniers, solid exotic wood, etc. They ought to have hobbyists who can give advice too. Look for books about refinishing trunks there and at Lowes and HobbyLobby too.


If you wanted to practice before doing a family treasure, take a premade box, like from Michael's, and fix it up.
Take your time and try for accuracy in all your work and it will turn out FANTASTIC !
AND P.S. You might become addicted to doing this and have a great hobby that can become a 2nd income someday. My Mom did.

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May 23, 20080 found this helpful

The veneer is applied during manufacture with a whole lot of pressure and special glues. Good luck.

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May 24, 20080 found this helpful

Thank all of you for your replies. I'm afraid I've bitten off more than I can chew with that veneer stuff.Went to the suggested web site and, hmm, I don't know, it seems awfully complicated. I am beginning to think I don't actually know what "veneer" is.


We have a craft store (Hobby Lobby) that has pieces of thin (maybe 1/16th inch?) wood (one was labeled "Birch"). Is that veneer? Couldn't I just glue that on (w/wood glue) and cover the places where the wood joins with a glued-on strip?

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May 26, 20080 found this helpful

I'm following your post fairly closely given that I need to patch my daughter's vanity in a few spots. I'm somewhat lucky that once applied, I plan to give it a new coat of antique white paint.

I ran across the following website:

Fingers crossed!

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By SunshineRose (Guest Post)
June 2, 20080 found this helpful

I think you can do what you want if you settle down and realize this is not a one day project. Pick a wood you like and don't worry if it is veneer. I think the glue is very important.


Put it where you can tip it on it's side and weight it down. You could use contact cement but you one have one chance. It sounds like you have very nice project in mind. Don't get overwhelmed. I would just do one step at a time and not rush the project.
Best of luck.

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By Mark (Guest Post)
August 16, 20080 found this helpful

My hope chest is from the 1920's and I only need to restore the outside it is all cedar and the inside still smells like cedar - What do I use to restore outside of chest? My E-mail address is kissmybass1 AT - Help?

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February 24, 2005

I have a wood floor in my kitchen that is really looking run down and dirty. I've tried all the wood cleaning products out there but I can't find anything that will clean it and make it look new (or at least not so old).

Rita in Wisconsin


By busybee. (Guest Post)
February 24, 20050 found this helpful

Have you ever tried lemon oil? you can buy it at walmart where you buy the pledge products. i wash my wood floors and put the lemon oil on them on my hands and knees it is well worth it they have a nice shine

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By Mary (Guest Post)
February 25, 20050 found this helpful

Be careful with using Pledge... it makes the floors very slippery!

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February 25, 20050 found this helpful

These are more renovation/restoration ideas than cleaning. I'm working on the assumption that you have tried all the cleaning preparations and they haven't worked so maybe its the floor's surface itself that's damaged.

You don't mention the floor's finish. Is it bare wooden boards or sealed in some way. For bare wood you can scrub with a fine wire brush or steel wool and a 50:50 mixyure of mineral turpentine and linseed oil. It will lift the dirt which you can keep wiping off on clean dry cloths and leave a nice finish. It will smell for a few days but quickly wears off. The excess mixture should be wiped off then left overnight and the surface will soak up any mixture left and form a barrier. You can repeat this every few months.

If there are lots of stains and ground in dirt these can be sanded off bare wood.

If the floor is sealed the seal itself may be scratched beyond redemption. You may have to buy a commercial liquid polish/paint stripper, strip and reseal.

The first step is to decide if the surface is intact and dirty or scratched and needs refinishing. Rubbing the floor very gently with fine steel wool or very gently with a green scrub, (like a Scotch Brite pad), and detergent will take every bit of dirt off. Do small sections at a time and wipe of loosened dirt with clean dry cloths. Try this somewhere unobtrusive if your floors are sealed and the seal is intact to ensure you don't damage the surface. Once you have done this it will become obvious if the dinginess was just due to ground in dirt or if the actual surface is damaged and needs refinishing.



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