How to restore wooden furniture

Nareele, Team member
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How to restore wooden furniture

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Project Overview

If you’ve got old wooden furniture that’s seen better days, you’d be surprised how easy it is to restore it and give it a new lease of life. Whether it’s from coffee and wine stains, scratches and gouges or peeling varnish, we’ll show you the steps to bring that piece of wooden furniture back to looking like it’s brand new.

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How to clean a paint brush

Here’s a great tip to save you time and mess while cleaning paint brushes. Use tin snips to cut a wire mesh panel into a rectangle. Bend the mesh into an arc shape and place it in the bucket, so that it’s wedged inside. Fill the bucket with water to cover the mesh. Now run your paintbrush back and forth over the mesh and the paint will come out quicker and easier.

Step by Step Instructions

1 Clean the table
2 Sand the table
3 Brush the dust off
4 Continue sanding
5 Use a finer grit sandpaper
6 Wipe the table with turps
7 Apply the first coat of varnish
8 Lightly sand the table
9 Apply the second coat of varnish
10 Job done
  • Step 1. Clean the table

    Use a damp cloth to thoroughly clean the table surface and remove any dirt or grime. Doing this before you sand will give you a smoother finish. 

  • Step 2. Sand the table

    To get rid of the varnish on the table, use a coarse sandpaper like 40 grit with an orbital sander. Sand the top and sides of the table. Make sure you regularly check the grit on the sandpaper and replace it when it’s worn. When you’re sanding, don’t forget your safety equipment and put drop sheets on the floor. 

  • Step 3. Brush the dust off

    As you sand, regularly brush the dust off the table. This is so you can see how much more sanding you need to do on the surface. 

  • Step 4. Continue sanding

    Continue sanding with the coarse grit sandpaper to strip the table back to its bare wood. Make sure you continue to check the grit on the sandpaper and replace it when necessary. 

  • Step 5. Use a finer grit sandpaper

    Once you’ve stripped the table back to bare wood, change the sandpaper to a finer grit, such as 240 grit. This will help you sand the table back until it’s smooth. Remember to always sand with the grain and brush the dust off the table.

  • Step 6. Wipe the table with turps

    Wipe the table with mineral turpentine to remove any fine dust and residue that might still be on the table. When using turpentine put on your dust mask.

  • Step 7. Apply the first coat of varnish

    After the table is dry, it’s time to apply the first coat of varnish. Stir the varnish thoroughly to get rid of any lumps. With a little varnish on your brush, apply it to the table, going with the grain. Keep an eye out for runs when you’re working around an edge or into a join. Smooth any runs out with the brush as they occur. Let the first coat dry thoroughly.

  • Step 8. Lightly sand the table

    Once the first coat of varnish has dried, give it a light sand with a fine sanding block. This will give you a smooth glossy finish. Wipe away any dust.

  • Step 9. Apply the second coat of varnish

    Stir the varnish thoroughly again before using it. Apply the varnish in nice long strokes, always following the grain. Let the varnish dry. 
  • Step 10. Job done

    And there you go – a fantastic piece of wooden furniture restored to its former glory.

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Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint Test.
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