Refinish Furniture

May 10 2003

Do It Yourself

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May 10, 2003

UV Protection

Use automotive wax with UV protection on your outdoor furniture to give it more protection and help it to last longer.

Color - Yellow

Yellow is a warm color vibrantly reminiscent of the sunshine, yet it's also restful and relaxing, as in the light of a full moon on a warm summer night. The part about baying at the full moon is a whole different story and out of our realm concerning furniture.

Yellow will reflect more light than most other colors, so will make a room look brighter. A wall painted yellow or some accent pieces of furniture painted yellow will make a small room seem larger and will make any room seem brighter on a dreary day. Too much yellow can cause uneasiness in lots of people.

We've added yellow pansies to the peeled log fence on one side of our patio, because the patio is partially covered, has a greenhouse on one end, storage cupboards on the other end, the house on one side and the five foot high dark redwood log fence on the other, so there's only enough direct sunlight to keep the posies perky and it needed some help with a feeling of openness and light. There are a dozen yellow pansies, just like a dozen little lights in pots attached to the fence doing their job wonderfully.

After the fence is stained and the weeds are pulled in the flower beds by the fence I'll post a picture on the web site showing the full effect.

Quick tip

Watch for the fence staining. As you can see in the picture the fence is in dire need of staining. I've been getting quite a few questions about outdoor furniture staining and finishing, so I'm going to try an experiment on the fence and if it works ok you'll all be able to stain your outdoor items in a fraction of the normal time with a very small investment, mine was $4.75 for equipment, plus the cost of materials.

More Wood Species

The wood species pictures are up on the the web site with the most popular furniture woods shown. We'll add more types of wood as time permits.


Teak is a popular wood for many types of furniture. Teak is a very durable wood and is used in both inside and outside applications. It's used a lot in the woodwork on boats as it's oily nature protects it from damage from a lot of moisture. The moisture protection of the oils make teak a good choice for outdoor furniture for decks and patios.

Teak has an uneven straight grain and it varies in color from a light brown to a very dark brown. Teak finishes nicely and is a very pretty furniture wood.

Teak is easy to restore and to refinish.


Maple varies from a very hard, dense wood to a medium density depending on the tree species. Maple is a durable wood. Northern hard maple is a creamy light brown color and has a subdued grain pattern. Northern hard maple is very dense and heavy.

Western soft maple is quite a bit softer than northern hard maple, but is still harder than most other woods. Western soft maple varies in color from a light brown to a reddish brown.

Maple will finish very easily due to it's dense nature. It smooths nicely, but because of the density it doesn't accept much stain.


Birch is a nice appearing wood with a mainly straight grain with a light figure. It's easy to work with, stains and finishes nicely. Birch is a light brown color tinged with red.

Birch is used a lot in cabinet work, because it's a dependable wood and it's veneer can be made to look like many other types of wood with the correct stain.

If your kitchen cabinets are made of birch veneer plywood and they have yellowed over the years you can strip them, stain with walnut stain, cherry stain, rosewood stain or many others of your choice, add some decorative molding and your age yellowed birch kitchen cabinets can have the appearance of outrageously expensive cabinets at a small fraction of the cost.


Alder is a close cousin to birch, in many ways they're almost twins. Alder takes a little more work to prepare for finishing than birch does, but it still isn't difficult. Alder can be used to replace a piece in a birch structure and it's quite a bit less expensive than birch. Alder is used a lot on the insides of overstuffed couches and chairs and the internal structure of case products, such as dressers.

Alder is pretty much the same in appearance and grain as birch.


Cedar is a softwood and is used mainly for outdoor furniture. It's very resistant to the rigors of the outdoor life.

Cedar is also used for fences, roof shingles and house siding.

The grain pattern of cedar runs from a very straight grain to a high figure and the color is from a light tan through a redish light tan and fantastic pinks and on to dark brown and a dark reddish black.

We used to make several styles of picture frame molding from cedar. We picked the prettiest of the colors and grain patterns and we sold more of our handmade cedar moldings and pictures frames than we sold of the commercial stuff we had available.

Paint preparation email question

email question . . . . .

Help! I just bought a thin, heart shaped table to use as a bedside table. It is not new; it is a shiny brown wood. I would like to sand the wood and paint it an antique white. Is it that simple? I have a simple electric sander for the flat top and would use sandpaper for the ridges on the legs. Any advice would be appreciated.


reply . . . . .

Very simple. Working with an old finish is much easier than having to build up a base of primer on raw wood.

Proper preparation is an absolute must though, to be sure the new paint will stick and stay stuck for a long time. The old surface has to be completely clean and free of any wax or polish, especially spray polishes, most of which contain silicone, which is very slippery. Not much of anything will stick to silicone. Soap and water won't clean it off. There is a good furniture cleaner which will clean everything and prepare for sanding.

Liquid deglosser will make the job a lot easier and combine the cleaning and sanding. Take a look at our Liquid deglosser page.

The best of both worlds would be to clean and use your sander on the top to be sure of as smooth of a top surface as possible, then use the deglosser on the other parts with ridges to be sure to get into all the nooks and crannies where silicone can hide.

Liquid deglosser will leave the surface smooth and ready for painting, but if the surface has any irregularities the liquid deglosser won't smooth them out.

Lifted veneer on edge

email question . . . . .

I have just purchased a nice older Pepplar dinning room suite. Unfortunately the veneer has lifted in several spots on the table surface, all at the edges. It is not too bad and appears that all I should have to do is squirt some wood glue underneath the lifted veneer and clamp it down.

Would this be the best or recommended method for this type of repair?

Also, once this repair is completed, I want to refinish the table top which is somewhat worn so that it once again matches the leafs, which are in great shape as they are rarely used. How can go about refinishing the surface without causing further damage to the veneer, yet bring it back to its original luster?

Appreciate your assistance.



reply . . . . .

You should remove as much of the old glue as possible first.

The removal shouldn't be too difficult since the lifting is all on the edges and the old glue is probably crystallized.

Take some 220 grit sandpaper and cut a strip about an inch wide and a few inches long. Double the sandpaper the length of the piece so that you have a two sided piece of sandpaper about one half inch wide and a few inches long. Insert the sandpaper under the veneer, but don't force it at the sides or the end, because you don't want to break the veneer.

Put a block on top of the veneer over the sandpaper to keep things flat and apply light pressure while pulling the sandpaper out. Do this several times blowing the dust out each time.

Work some glue under the lifted veneer using a small artists brush, if it will fit, or a piece of stiff paper if a brush won't fit. A yellow woodworkers glue will work fine.

Work any excess glue out with your finger and clean it up with a damp cloth. Clamp very snuggly with a smooth block over the veneer. Put a piece of plastic wrap between the veneer and your clamp block so any errant glue won't glue the block to the table top.

If the finish isn't worn all the way through to the wood you may be able to use a product called Restor-a-Finish to rejuvenate it.

If the Restor-a-Finish won't work give the glue a couple of days to cure, then refinishing shouldn't bother the veneer.

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