Thursday, October 30, 2014

Stripping and Staining Furniture

I talk a lot about painting furniture.  I've received quite a few emails about finishing wood furniture.  So I want to lay aside all your fears and show you how easy it is to strip and refinish wood.  This is especially handy if you want to keep a wood top and paint the bottom.
I have this pretty antique desk that I've wanted to refinish for awhile now.  It has great lines and is in good shape, but it is a red mahogany that just doesn't work for me.  It's almost orange.  The top had a lot of water marks and wasn't in the best shape. So I decided to paint the bottom of this piece and strip the top and keep the wood.  Stripping wood is not hard to do.  It's actually pretty easy.  Stripping paint is a little more involved from a time perspective but it's not that hard either.  So don't fret.

Enter Citristrip.
This is a really nice stripping product that isn't too harsh and actually smells pretty nice.  They say you can do this inside, but unless you have a workroom or basement, I would do this outside as stripping can be a little messy (not horribly) but you don't want this on your floors.  Pour a generous amount on your wood and use an old chippy brush to spread it all over your piece.  All over.  Don't leave any wood that you are stripping without this. Leave this on for an hour or so, maybe longer if you have lots of paint layers.  I went to the grocery store and came back and about an hour and a half later.  I took at scraping tool and my safety goggles and just scraped it off.  This will work with paint and with varnish.  Scrape all the gunk into an old can.  I think I used a shoe box...... and let your piece dry. Give it a good 24 hours.  Then sand.

Make sure you sand off all of the stain and any paint left on the piece.  Wear a mask if you are sanding old paint and always wear your safety goggles.  You will have a beautiful unstained piece of wood underneath.  
Now you are ready to stain.  Buy a can of Pre-stain.  This will solve lots of little problems that could be a me on this one.  It's like conditioner for your hair.  It treats the wood and preps it so the stain will take evenly. You only have to wait about 15 min and you can begin staining.
I chose a Minwax stain in walnut. Following the grain of the wood, paint your stain on the section you are finishing.  If you are doing a whole piece, work in sections (top, sides, face) and keep stain on for the same amount of time for each section.  I was just doing the top so I put the stain on and left it for a few minutes. 

 Take a clean rag and just wipe it off.  Just wipe.  The longer you keep the stain on the more it penetrates.  But DON'T let it dry.  Wipe it off and you will have a beautiful stained piece of wood.  Pat yourself on the back cuz stained wood is sooo pretty!
I forgot to take a picture but the wood on the right is a nice deep walnut brown.  Now leave your piece for 24 hours. I know, if you are like me you want to be done now.  But the wood needs to dry, or you are going to have water marks under your finish.  

I will continue and show you the next step of how to finish your piece - easily on Monday.

Let me know if you have questions.