Question about revarnishing old dining room chairs?

Home Forums Decaffeinated Coffee Question about revarnishing old dining room chairs?

Viewing 22 posts - 1 through 22 (of 22 total)
  • Author
  • #599401

    I am not a professional. In fact I really am just a poor house wife, and decided to do it myself.

    What I have completed so far, is:

    1. Removing all the old varnish & paint

    2. Sanded down a few areas that still had stain, but did not make the whole chair clean raw. In fact most areas of chair were left unevenly semi stained. with streaks from the varnish remover product.

    3. Applied oil based stain, wiped away excess. (2 applications – 24 hrs apart)

    Now it is 3 days after and what I have found is that some areas of the chair are unexpectedly much darker than in other places. It almost looks like I deliberately applied a thick layer. Of course I didnt. I thought I added an even coat but….

    Anyhow my question is Should I want to correct this problem, should I sand down the dark parts before varnishing? And then restain it? Or just go straight to varnishing?

    AND was I suppose to have done something to the wood after sanding?

    And..Because I was working on the chairs outside and we live in a big polluted city I found that debris and dust in the air stuck to the stain when drying. What could I have done to prevent this?

    Thanks alot for your time and reponses.


    As far as I know before you stain, you are supposed to sand down the entire area.


    An uneven color on the chairs can sometimes look very nice. Even natral wood dosen’t have the same color.


    Staining wood is much trickier and time consuming than opaque paint. You must get every trace of the old stain off or the results will not look very nice, as you’ve just found out. Worse, there is no good way to fix that. You can either paint it over in some solid color, or strip it again and start from scratch. Also, if you try it again, use a polyurethane-based stain.

    minyan gal

    There is a special kind of cloth (and I cannot remember the name of it) that you must wipe down the wood with after you finish all of your sanding and before applying any stain. It takes off all of the debris. I am quite sure that someone at Lowes or Home Depot would be able to help you. Good luck.


    itchesrulik- you can strip a stain from raw wood? or only sanding is necessary?


    first of all. this is a slow and timely process. its not a sunday afternoon and you’re done job. that said, the darker stains are probably because, as you said the chairs werent sanded completely before rubbing in the stain. also how did you apply the stain? If you are serious about making it look nice, and they are good quality chairs, take one at a time and put alot of time and elbow grease into it. Like three days per chair. Sand it down completely. you can view this on youtube. only once you have stripped it and sanded it completely and used a tack rag to get off all the shavings, then apply the proper stain with the proper tool ( i would choose a foam brush or rag) with even strokes with the grain, avoiding any drips. wipe off excess right away. and sand in between coats. I would rather a hand rubbed finish but thats up to you. and the look you want. THey make products that combine the stain and protection finish in one. good luck and watch some you tube tutorials first.


    jl -what is the point of sanding in between coats of stain?

    Wouldn’t that just remove the stain job I’ve just applied?


    The cloth is called a tack cloth.

    Cheesecloth is the best for applying stain.

    Wood bleach removes the messed-up stain coat.

    I’ll write more after Shabbos – I need to look at the HD or Lowe’s site to see what’s available in the US now and then I can probably give you a step-by-step set of instructions for starting over, which is what I recommend.


    always runs… the point of sanding in between coats is to smooth out the finish. Im sorry it wasnt clear YOU MUST WAIT FOR IT TO DRY COMPLETELY, then sand lightly with a fine grit steel wool. starting with a coarser steel wool(not the soap stuff you clean pots with) and then ending with a finer one. they will advise you at home depot. this is not the same kinda sanding with sandpaper that you were doing to remove the stain. this is lighter.more like the action you would use if you were cleaning it well with a sponge or rag. its like putting icing on a cake when you want it to be a smooth look for decorations. you put the first icing on and smooth off all the excess and imperfections. then you put another coat and smooth again. and the more you do it on the wood the more beautiful the wood will look and feel.and it brings out the lustre. Its an absolute must. ! and use a tack rag each time after sanding. sanding smooths thats its primary job, it also removes paint and stain.and i agree with others that a bleaching agent prob needs to be used to remove the stain.


    jl- in the case of where I have applied too thick a stain and its come real dark and ugly looking, should I sand this down with sand paper and start again? Or once I put varnish over it its not going to show up so bad anyways?

    If i skip the step of smoothing down the stained wood with the steel wool, will it matter?


    jl- in the case of where I have applied too thick a stain and its come real dark and ugly looking, should I sand this down with sand paper and start again? Or once I put varnish over it its not going to show up so bad anyways?

    If i skip the step of smoothing down the stained wood with the steel wool, will it matter?


    Wood bleach or some stripping compound will get most of it off but you have to sand down the rest. Today they make foam brushes that are even better than cheesecloth for staining.

    Note: Flame spreaders will not work.


    Always runs; You will have no other choice than to start the entire process over again. (Strip the wood bare with coarse sandpaper first.) This is a very time consuming process. As I have learned through trial and error. (Mostly error.) Jobs like this are best left to professionals.


    Always Runs… i cant tell without seeing your chairs but i dont think the dark spots are from putting too much stain there, I think they are from the fact that you didnt start with a clean slate. IMHO, you need to start all over again. Carefully working on one chair at a time. you need to use a stripper again, and sand a bit, and prob need to use a bleaching agent. again its like a cake, if the cake has choc crumbs all over and you just put a thin layer of white icing the crumbs will show thru. You need to start with clean wood for an even finish.Its a hard job and it takes time. Had you taken this to a professional, he would have dipped the whole thing in a vat of chemical remover and that makes the job much easier.


    Metro, actually it is a lot of fun to do this yourself. I probably did my first refinishing job before I was bar mitzvah, and with one exception, a pine door (see below re methylene chloride and soft wood) I’ve always had great results. I wish I had time to restore some of the historical furniture that you can get here for pennies or for nothing when people renovate.

    The problem is that the methylene chloride paint strippers are dangerous dreck and the non-toxic substitutes that I have tried, which are admittedly older ones, are stam dreck that do not work.

    Especially if the chair is a softer wood, don’t use any more methylene chloride stripper (the smelly, flammable stuff like ZipStrip which is best left for kiddush on Simchas Toyre in the Chanichei Otisville minyan). It softens the wood and you’ll end up gouging it with your putty knife when you remove the finish after it softens.

    Wood bleach -> sanding and/or fine steel wool -> pre-stain conditioner from Minwax -> water based polyurethane varnish stain is your best bet.

    No, arak cannot be used in place of either wood stain or paint remover. Rancid galle, on the other hand, takes off two coats of paint but it eats through wood.


    600 Kilo; (aware of the weight.) I once did a bookcase that I designed and built myself. Actually a combination bookcase-office desk and storage. (fastened to the wall and ceiling.) The first strip and varnish effort was half-baked. When I redid the job it came out splendid. (Not to be confused with Splenda.)


    Reb Ber: It’s dangerous drek, but it works. So use it and keep the bear cubs away.


    i am glad you all like this work. I am near tears. Its almost midnight and I am still staining. I am under pressure of this project to get it finished by Rosh Hashana. I hate it. I wish I had never started. I just read the varathane can while taking a break a moment ago, and it said it recommends 3 coats….WHOA

    lets see…6 chairs times 3 coats means I have to go over the area of the chairs 18 times. I feel like crying.

    If I had have known how much work this would be I never would have started. It doesnt even look good after all this!!!


    Yes, methylene chloride/methanol/MEK paint remover works if:

    1) You are stripping hard wood (or using it as a cleaner to remove graffiti).

    2) You follow up with steel wool especially in crevices.

    It ruins some pine and don’t use it with a metal knife in corners or crevices. Since it ruins plastic knives, using it with steel wool is your only choice.


    Always Runs… I warned you that this takes time. You shouldnt rush to finish by Rosh Hashana. YOu will not be happy with the results. This is a wonderfully theraputic activity when done without the time pressure.and you better let those coats dry completely, or you will have a real mess on your hands.


    since y’all have been so kind sorta guiding and walking me through this, I been thinking how I can upload the finished result photos to share with you.

    I actually gave up hope today at making them stunning pieces of wood furniture and have settled to just get it over with without further sanding because I was doing all the sanding by hand as i do not have a sanding equipment machine. Hence, my hands have turned numb from the grinding.

    I am thankful I am just slapping on 2 coats of varnish and who cares. ….we just won’t analyze the job.

Viewing 22 posts - 1 through 22 (of 22 total)
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.