How to Refurbish Wood

Don’t throw away old furniture. You can still use old wood chairs, tables, dressers and cabinets when you give these some TLC. You can refurbish old wood and transform old furniture into something just like new by using a few refinishing techniques. This guide will show you how it’s done.

Refurbish wood basics

There are actually a lot of ways to refurbish old furniture. You can dismantle old furniture and reuse wood that are still salvageable. For instance, you can dismantle an old dresser and use the wood to make a new shelf. You can cut the top of an old dinner table to make a headboard for a bed.

But instead of cutting and salvaging parts that can still be used, you can completely refinish wooden furniture and transform it to look like something new.

Things you will need

  • Old dresser you will work on
  • Soft sponge
  • Liquid dish soap and water
  • Clean towel
  • Sandpaper with 300 grit and 150 to 200 grit
  • Epoxy putty
  • Chemical stripper
  • Furniture Wax
  • Nylon scourer
  • Wax varnish


1) Preparing your old wooden furniture


Remove all hardware on your furniture. If you are refurbishing an old dresser, you must remove all the drawers, knobs, any hinges or handles. Use a screwdriver to remove these pieces and store them carefully so you won’t lose a single screw.

Completely clean your furniture by washing with soap and water. Scrub the wooden furniture with warm, soapy water; use a soft sponge. Rinse the wood with a sponge soaked in fresh water. Use a clean towel to dry the furniture piece. If the furniture you are working on has molding, trims, carvings, and corners that are very hard to reach, use a paintbrush instead of a sponge.

2) Sanding furniture


Sand down the top layer of paint and any remaining stain. Start at the surface of the dresser with a 300-grit sandpaper or a sanding block. Use finer grit sandpaper with 150 or 200-grit once you have seen the surface of the wood.

If you have stubborn paint, use a chemical stripper. For unsightly marks and stains use a methylene chloride-based stripping agent to completely remove these marks without any effort.

3) Repairing holes in wood


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Repair any holes, cracks, or dents with epoxy putty. Be sure to follow manufacturer’s instructions on how to use the epoxy putty.

4) Painting your old furniture


Apply primer before painting the furniture. Use a brush and then let this dry completely. Let the primer dry for another 2 hours if the paint is opaque. If the primer you are using is not opaque, place an additional layer of primer and dry this for another hour.

Paint the dresser with acrylic or enamel paint color of your choice. Let this dry for at least 2 to 4 hours before adding the second coat of paint. When this layer dries, sand with 240-grit sandpaper once this is dry. Apply 4 layers and sanding after each layer except for the final one.

5) Staining your dresser

You may choose to apply wax to finish your project. There are chemical-based waxes and there are natural waxes like beeswax or similar wax finish. Use a nylon scourer or steel wool pad and then sit for 5 minutes. After the allotted time, rub with a clean cloth until the surface is smooth. Add the final layer of wax and then seal with varnish.

Apply oil to your wooden furniture to highlight its lovely natural grain and texture. Make sure to cover everything with oil. Let the oil remain on the wooden surface for 10 minutes, then wipe off any excess with a towel. After this layer has dried, repeat the steps until you have applied 5 to 6 layers of stain.

Get that very shiny appearance using drops of oil on the surface of the dresser and buff it. Let the oil dry about 15 minutes. This means that the first layer has completely soaked into the wood. Apply another layer and after 15 more minutes, wipe off with a sponge. Repeat the steps as desired.



Refurbish old wooden furniture by either dismantling or cutting salvageable wood or by repainting and refinishing wood. You can work on old furniture, old walls and old flooring, however, you must first assess the condition of your wood to make appropriate repairs before refurbishing.

  • January 5, 2019
  • DIY