Refinishing chairs











For a long time I’ve not pulled my weight in the “cooking a meal for the family” stakes. Based solely on the excuse that I don’t have a dining table or chairs. So I’ve been content to go to my brothers’ houses and enjoy their hospitality, but when it came my turn it was always out for a meal somewhere. But no longer! I have been keeping an eye out for a table for a while, flip-flopping between looking at new or second hand. Then a couple of weeks ago a table and chair turned up on a for-sale forum at work for £30. I figured at that price it had to be worth a go. The table is a nice mahogany colour and the chairs were painted black.
Now I have nothing against painted wood as such, however the paint was a little worn in places and I decided to look at stripping them down. I figured I could re-paint if the wood turned out to be cheap stuff that needed painting. But when I sanded away the paint under the seat, it showed through a nice grain.

I have no idea what the wood is, but I figured it would be worth stripping all the paint. I tried a little with a heat gun, and sandpaper, but it was not as easy as I’d hoped. So I switched to paint stripper. This was also not as easy as I’d hoped, but it was faster than the other options. The instructions said to apply and wait 20 minutes before rubbing it down with wire wool. I found that it was actually much more effective to start with the wire wool immediately after application. Perhaps it helped to work the solution into the paint better? In any case the first few attempts with paint stripper were not that effective, but once I’d got the hang of it things went faster.

Since the legs of the chair are just tapered cylinders, I decided to mount them on my lathe to sand them down. This made them much faster to deal with, and allowed me to get a good finish. The down side of that was needing to do a similarly thorough job of sanding the rest of the chair. All in all it took longer than I’d have liked, given I have another 3 to do, but I think I’ll be able to do the next one faster. And in any case it wasn’t so long as to be unfeasible to complete the job. Just a little time consuming. To finish the job I applied a wax finish that also stained a medium oak colour. I’ve never used this kind of finish before, and I was unsure about it as I applied it. The colour looked wrong, and particularly next to the bare sanded wood I thought maybe this was a bad idea. However once finished, and rubbed down, I decided it has made quite a nice finish for the chair.

I probably should have tried to match the table in colour, but I quite like oak, and have a number of other oak things around the house. So I guess my bias made me pick medium oak. Sat next to the table I don’t think it looks too bad in its surrounding.

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