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How To Strip and Refinish Wooden Furniture

How To Strip and Refinish Wooden Furniture

by Simon Gilboy

This procedure is very simple to follow and will give your wooden furniture a natural-looking protective waxed finish.

You will need:

  • Paint stripper
  • Coarse wire wool
  • 120 & 180 grit sandpaper
  • Methylated spirits (denatured alcohol) with 5% acetic acid in the solution
  • Disposable foam-back kitchen scrubber
  • Natural oil finish
  • Gilboy's 'pure gold' beeswax polishing kit

Method

    1. Strip the existing finish clean using paint stripper and coarse wire wool and follow the instructions on the tin. You may need to repeat this step until you have a clean surface.

      applying stripper

    2. If the furniture is not an antique, start sanding the surface with 120 grit sandpaper, always with the grain. Using a block to hold the paper will make this process easier and more effective. When you are happy that it is sanded evenly, move up to a 180 grit, again sanding with the grain.

    3. You may need to neutralise the surface at this point, look at the instructions on the side of the paint stripper tin. We neutralise the stripper in our workshop with methylated spirits (denatured alcohol) with 5% acetic acid in the solution. This does two things: It helps to neutralise the alkali in the stripper to give a neutral surface and it allows you to see the true colour of the wood and any imperfections you may not have noticed. We use a disposable foam-back kitchen scrubber to apply the solution. No need to be fussy, just wash it over and you will see the true colour of the table. Do all of this in a well ventilated space, it will evaporate very quickly. If you are happy with the finish and you can see no obvious imperfections that will bother you then proceed to the next step. At this point give it one more quick pass with the 180 grit paper just to ensure you have a very clean surface. And leave it to breathe overnight.

      neutralising wood

    4. Apply a natural oil finish and again follow the instructions on the tin. Use some of our polishing cloth to apply it, it is very easy to do and needs no special skills. Just wipe it over the surface evenly, it will dry very quickly. You may want to coat it again but that will be up to you. 

      applying oil to wood surface

    5. Leave it overnight to dry thoroughly and then apply our Gilboys Gold to the surface using the soft wire wool supplied in the polishing kit. Charge the wool with a little of the wax and apply a thin even layer in the direction of the grain. The surface will go very dull as it starts to dry and will be completely dull once applied.

      applying Gilboys beeswax polish

    6. Leave it for 20 minutes or so and then start buffing. Follow the grain and start in one corner and work your way across the table. 

      buffing beeswax polished surface

    Results

    You should be left with a beautiful natural satin sheen (not glossy) which will look very pleasing to the eye and have the added extra protection of the oil underneath.

    There shouldn’t be any need to wax it again but if you should wish to, I would advise waiting for a few days just to allow the first application to go hard. You don’t want to apply it too quickly after the initial coat of wax as it may soften it and remove all your work. How often you use the furniture will determine how often you need to re-wax it. I would suggest in normal use, once a year. You should be able to gauge this for yourself by just looking at how much wear it is getting. Wax polish is sacrificial coating. It is there to enhance, protect and wear away with use.

     Beeswax Polish in Jars Complete Polishing Kits Tins for Professionals
    complete wood polishing kits 1L beeswax wood polish



    Simon Gilboy
    Simon Gilboy

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