The most difficult part of refinishing a piece of furniture is getting started. Begin by making a list of the materials you need, so that once you do get started, you won't have to stop to get more supplies. First of all you will need plenty of paint remover. There are two kinds, paste and liquid. Paste is less likely to drip or spill, but liquid is easier to spread. You will also need paint brushes, sandpaper, a scraper, lacquer thinner, wood filler, stain or paint, and lacquer, varnish or wax finish. Always work in a well-ventilated area since fumes can be dangerous. Remove hardware, doors and drawers. Work on small sections at a time, beginning with doors and drawers, then move on to the larger piece itself.
Begin by stripping off the old finish. To do this, pour the paint remover in a bucket, a little at a time, so that it remains at full strength. Brush on liberally with a paintbrush. When the paint remover stops reacting with the paint or stain, brush on more. As the old finish dissolves, scrape it off. To dissolve old finish from carved areas and hard to reach corners and crevices use a small brush, one inch or smaller. Continue to apply more paint remover until all of the old stain or paint is removed. Finally, either wipe the piece down with clean paint remover and a clean cloth to remove any finish that may be left, or sand lightly with extra fine sandpaper. If there are any scratches or dents fill with wood filler and sand smooth, being careful to sand with the grain.
Next apply the stain. If you use a water-based stain, you will need to wet the surface first with a damp cloth or paper towel to raise the grain. Sand lightly with extra fine grade sandpaper. If you don't do this with a water based stain it will raise the grain and leave a rough surface after it dries. Apply the stain with a brush or cloth ball. If you use a ball of cloth squeeze out excess stain to prevent drips on the wood. Spread the stain liberally and evenly working with the grain. Then wipe the surface with a clean, dry cloth to distribute the color evenly and to remove excess stain. Allow to dry thoroughly.
Finally, apply the finish to protect the wood. The finish can be lacquer, varnish, polyurethane, oil or wax. Brush on lacquer, varnish or oil with a brush and spread evenly. Use light strokes and brush in the direction of the grain. Be careful not to brush back over a coat of varnish or lacquer once it has begun to set, or you may leave permanent brush marks. The final step is very important. Sit back and admire your masterpiece!
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