Today it is becoming very popular to restore old wooden furniture to its original condition. Old wooden pieces can usually be picked up at markets or second-hand shops fairly cheaply. To get your wooden piece of furniture professionally restored can be expensive, but most of the time it is not too difficult for you to restore it yourself at home.
When looking for a piece of furniture to restore, make sure it has been made of good quality wood. You can usually tell the quality of a wood by the wood grain. If you intend to restore your piece and then varnish or stain it so that you can still see the grain of the wood, then make sure you like the look of the wood. Make sure the wood has no major faults or holes. Solid wood pieces will restore much better than non-solid pieces.
Start by stripping back any paint or varnish that is on your piece of furniture. Paint strippers can be used, but they can be harsh on the wood. The best way is to do it all old-fashioned way with a “bit of elbow grease!” If your piece of furniture has many layers of paint, you may have to use paint stripper just to save time, but be sure to not leave it on for too long and rinse the wood carefully with warm water and a damp cloth when you are done. Sand back the surface until all traces of paint or varnish is removed. At this point, you should do any repairs that need to be done, such as fixing legs or leveling, etc.
Once repairs have been done use a fine grade sandpaper to smooth the surface of the piece of furniture and remove little inconsistencies in the wood surface. Fine sandpaper should also be used to sand around delicate areas such as moldings or lattice and in corners. Once smooth and sanded you are ready to finish your piece.
Depending on the look you desire there are a few different things you can do for the finish of your piece. When restoring furniture, the look that most people go for is the natural look with the wood grain. To finish your piece of with that old time natural look, get a light wood stain and gently rub it into the wood as per the directions on the tin, then once dry apply a furniture wax to protect it.
Varnishing your piece will create a shinier and richer looking effect. Once again apply as per the directions on the tin, and the follow up with furniture wax for protection. For an alternative to wood stain, shoe polish works well when rubbed into the wood surface, or dyes can be used too.
If you are restoring a chair with a cushion part in the center or similar, leave attaching it until after you have sanded and finished off the rest of the chair, this way you will not ruin the fabric.
The same goes for any other fabric-covered pieces. Always wherever possible do the woodwork and staining before securing the fabric. Wherever you can use natural based products on the furniture, as this is less harsh on the wood and the effect will turn out better anyway.