May 8, 2012

Refinishing Antique Wood Chairs

Hello all!
Today I have some antique chairs to share with you. My mother in law's friend had these two chairs that were originally a wedding present to her grandma. Giving smaller chairs like these is equivalent to us having folding chairs now. We did the math and decided the wedding must have been somewhere around the year 1918!!

They had seen better days, some pieces were missing from both of them and even though they were lovingly and beautifully painted they were now getting old and in need of a refresher. 

Yes somehow that is the best before picture I took :( When I started on the first chair I thought "I'll take a pic of the other chair." Then when I started the 2nd chair I thought "I already got a before pic of the other one." Arg!! 

Their owner wanted them restored back to their original, beautiful wood finish. I love painting over wood but it's fun to do the exact opposite from time to time!

I use Klean-Strip paste stripper, I don't know why it's called "paste" I'd describe it more as a gel. Anyways, it's available at Home Depot for about $10. I buy packages of the cheap chip brushes to apply it with because it's easier to just throw them away after each use. 

After applying a thick coat and waiting about 10 minutes it's ready to be removed. 

For flat surfaces a metal putty knife works great but on all of the spindles I found using a rag to wipe it off worked best. I bought a "roll-o-rags" at Home Depot in the paint area for about $4 and cut each rag into smaller squares. 

I love these things. I've been using them for paint stripping, stain applications, and wiping off excess furniture wax. They feel just like my husband's white t-shirts that I used to cut up!

After I had stripped the whole chair I started the sanding process. 

(ready to be sanded!)

I started with the flat surfaces using my palm sander with 80 grit sandpaper. Then to sand all of the legs and spindles my sweet neighbor brought over some sandpaper strips that I had never seen before. They looked like this.

He cut me a piece long enough that I could wrap it around the spindle and just pull back and forth and back and forth from different angles until the whole thing was sanded. It was still hard work, but I'm sure it saved me lots of time. After that I still needed to go into all of the crevices by hand with small pieces of sand paper and then over the whole chair again with finer sand paper to get a smooth finish.

(ready to be stained!)

I stained the chairs with Minwax stain in the color Provincial and then applied three coats of polyurethane in a satin finish. 

They turned out beautiful and I just love that they're a family heirloom. I can't wait to give them back to their owner!! :)

Linking up to:


  1. Heidi, the chair looks amazing!

  2. I love what you did!! The chair is beautiful! I am trying to salvage an heirloom- could you just do it for me? :) Seriously, this was very helpful! Thank you for posting!


  3. Wow stunning! What a labour of love - it looks fantastic!
    home sweet nest

  4. Hi Heidi;
    I just awarded you the Liebster award - head over to my blog to accept!
    home sweet nest

  5. Dear Heidi!
    Just found you at Home Sweet Nest blog!
    Awesome job on the chairs!!!
    I a sure the owner will be thrilled!

  6. Wow those look amazing! I must say I give you props; I'm trying my hand at refinishing furniture for the first time on a kiddie table and it's so much work! I know it will be rewarding at the end but it's certainly trying my patience! Kudos to you!

  7. Hi there,

    They'd noticed far better days and nights, several parts have been absent coming from both of them and although these people were carefully and also attractively decorated these people were today having older in addition to will need of your refresher.


  8. That they had observed much better a short time, a number of components happen to be missing originating from they are all as well as even though these folks had been very carefully as well as beautifully embellished these folks had been these days getting old along with will require of the refresher.

  9. This is a great article and I love the pictures. I have been into interior design for many years and I love buying unique items and antiques. Lately I have been into old wooden chairs. I decided to re-do my kitchen and I went for an old rusted look. I found a beautiful bentwood chair for the little desk that we have in our kitchen. Maybe I will try some of these ideas and stain it a darker brown. That could possibly even give it a more rusted look. It looks great and it is actually very comfortable. Chairs like these are great because they are sturdy and give your overall design a unique and old look.