Have you ever refinished a piece of furniture? Well, I haven't. Not in the sand-down-to-raw-wood-and-restain-it type of way. I like to paint furniture. And when my client asked me to refresh this table she was gifted, I have to admit that I was a little bit scared–especially after she told me that it was about 100 years old. Yikes!
She had been a client of mine for about a year and I've been to her home numerous times picking up furniture pieces to paint for her. So when she told me that she'd like me to refinish an antique table, I thought, 'No problem!' Until she gave me all the details.
She told me that she didn't want it painted. Ok then. Did she want it re-stained? If she did, I have some contacts I can refer her to. Nope. Then what did she want? She really didn't know, but she did know that she didn't want it painted or re-stained. So I told her that I could clean it up and make it look new again. I thought, 'OMG, I can't ruin this table!'
So my research began... I wanted to find a way to do this without having to strip or sand, but also that resulted in a beautiful finished product.
Here's what the table looked like before I touched it.
There were lighter spots and darker spots (I assumed that they were water stains) in the wood. The table is very sturdy and there were really no deep scratches or holes, so overall, it was in pretty good condition. Now to get to work.
Here's what I used from start to finish (Links to the products are at the bottom of this post.):
- Cotton rags
- Super Fine (#0000) steel wool
- Murphy's Oil Soap
- Howard Restor-A-Finish (Natural)
- Howard Feed-N-Wax
The first thing I did was use Murphy's Oil Soap and a wet rag to wash the entire piece. By doing this, I was able to wash off any surface dirt and oil.
Next–and I was really nervous about this part–I took some super fine steel wool and dipped it into Howard's Restor-A-Finish and started scrubbing (WITH the grain. Always WITH the grain). I started slowly because I was afraid that I'd leave scratch marks on the table. But the wool is so fine that it didn't leave any marks. I kept dipping the wool into the product to be sure my wool didn't get dry, and I finished the entire table.
It took a little elbow grease–and I probably could have used more to get down deeper into the wood, but it did strip off enough of the finish and get the grime off the table. Every so often, after finishing a small area, I'd take a wet rag and wash away the dirty Restor-A-Finish from the table so it didn't seep back into the wood.
Here's an in-process shot. You can see how many of the stains have been removed. The grain of the wood and some of the wear is still there so I did work on it a bit more after I took this picture to try and remove the remaining stains. (I later decided that the very dark stains must be burns in the wood because they just would not clean up.)
If I had used my hand sander on the table top the stains would all be removed, but I don't have the ventilation in my work area to do the deep sanding that's needed.
In any case, I got the table to a point where I was happy with the result. The last step was to seal the table with Howard's Feed-N-Wax. It's a wood polish and conditioner that contains beeswax and orange oil.
Again, I used a cotton rag and rubbed the wax on very liberally. It's very greasy and has a consistency of petroleum jelly. After leaving the wax on for about an hour, I took a clean rag and wiped off any excess that sat on top of the table.
I let the table sit overnight before I took yet another clean rag and polished the table. And, voilà, the finished product!
I'm so pleased with the result! It's G-O-R-G-E-O-U-S! And now I know that there is a way that I can refresh a wood piece without worrying about stripping off the finish and sanding down the whole dang thing. Of course, there are cases where stripping and sanding would be the best option but this is a great process that can be used on a case-by-case basis.
I'd love to hear what you think, or whether you've used these products (or others) and what your results were.
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