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View Full Version : Joe's 100% Foolproof Furniture Refinishing Tips.



Joe270
03-31-2009, 06:27 AM
This is a completely foolproof method for refinishing your old furniture and getting absolutely perfect results.

Step 1. Sell your old furniture.

Step 2. Buy new furniture.


If anyone is contemplating refinishing furniture, like, say a dinette set with four chairs, I will fill you in on some of the unexpected. First, you will get sick and not be able to get the project finished before, I dunno, perhaps dinner on Sunday for the son's birthday with lots of people coming over.

I have some suggestions to calculate the actual costs of refinishing your furniture:

1.) Cost. Price all chemicals, stains, brushes, etc. you will need for the project. Double this amount, which should get you around $100.00 for a dinette-and-four-chairs-sized project.

2.) Time. Take all the experts' calculations of how long this project should take and average them. Multiply by 10. Multiply by minimum wage. That should get you between $750-$9,000, depending on your project scope.

3.) Clothing. The chemical strippers will not only eat right through the 'protective' rubber gloves, but your shoe soles as well. Just toss all clothing into the trash or you'll be replacing your washer/dryer, too. $200, unless you are stupid enough to try to wash them, then add another $700.

3.) Damage. Because chemical stripping agents will get tracked into your home, figure $300 if you have concrete or tile floors, $2000 if you have carpet, and $5000 for hardwood floors (If you opt to refinish your own hardwood floors, return to #1 and multiply all costs by 100, and be prepared to just burn down your house, take the insurance money, and buy a new one after vowing to your spouse that you will never, ever refinish anything ever again.)

So, if you 'just say no', you'll be ahead by at least $1350, plus however much you make selling your original furniture, at the absolute minimum.

Now, depending on the temperament of the person performing the refinishing project, you might wish to add bail and legal fees for disturbing the peace charges. Certainly, if you are insane enough to elect to refinish the hardwood floors, then I would plan on Marriage Counseling fees and possible divorce fees, alimony, etc. If you have a dog, add vet fees.

Repeat after me:

Sell your old furniture.

Buy new furniture.


Trust me.

Haggis
03-31-2009, 06:31 AM
This is a completely foolproof method for refinishing your old furniture and getting absolutely perfect results.

Step 1. Sell your old furniture.

Step 2. Buy new furniture.


If anyone is contemplating refinishing furniture, like, say a dinette set with four chairs, I will fill you in on some of the unexpected. First, you will get sick and not be able to get the project finished before, say, dinner on Sunday for the son's birthday with lots of people coming over.

I have some suggestions to calculate the actual costs of refinishing your furniture:

1.) Cost. Price all chemicals, stains, brushes, etc. you will need for the project. Double this amount, which should get you around $100.00.

2.) Time. Take all the experts' calculations of how long this project should take. Multiply by 10. Multiply by minimum wage. That should get you between $750-$9,000, depending on your project scope.

3.) Clothing. The chemical strippers will not only eat right through the 'protective' rubber gloves, but your shoe soles as well. Just toss all clothing into the trash or you'll be replacing your washer/dryer, too. $200, unless you are stupid enough to try to wash them, then add another $700.

3.) Damage. Because chemical stripping agents will get tracked into your home, figure $300 if you have concrete or tile floors, $2000 if you have carpet, and $5000 for hardwood floors (If you opt to refinish your own hardwood floors, return to #1 and multiply all costs by 100, and be prepared to just burn down your house, take the insurance money, and buy a new one after vowing to your spouse that you will never, ever refinish anything ever again.)

So, if you 'just say no', you'll be ahead by at least $1350, plus however much you make selling your original furniture, at the absolute minimum.

Now, depending on the temperament of the person performing the refinishing project, you might wish to add bail and legal fees for disturbing the peace charges. Certainly, if you are insane enough to elect to refinish the hardwood floors, then I would plan on Marriage Counseling fees and possible divorce fees, alimony, etc. If you have a dog, add vet fees.

Repeat after me:

Sell your old furniture.

Buy new furniture.


Trust me.

Wimp. I've still got stuff I refinished over 30 years ago. And it still looks good.

You need lessons, grasshopper. That's all.

Joe270
03-31-2009, 06:36 AM
I've still got stuff I refinished over 30 years ago. And it still looks good.

Mine won't last that long, but it'll sure look good burning in the bonfire I'm gonna build out in the desert next weekend.

I have made furniture, nice stuff, from scratch. Finishing isn't the problem.

It's stripping the old finish, that's the problem. Never again.

DL Hegel
03-31-2009, 06:56 AM
I paint over stuff. I have a used cheap table---that was no lie---yellow, red and green--- I painted it black---I heart spray paint---my S O thought I was nuts but---I get compliments on that table all the time:)

Joe270
03-31-2009, 07:03 AM
Interesting, DL. Usually spray paint doesn't usually harden enough for a table finish.

There is a hardening agent which you can apply afterward, btw.

Or did you clear coat it after?

Haggis
03-31-2009, 07:12 AM
Crap. I lost my earlier post. Not that it has anything to do with painting.

As for stripping (assuming non-painted surfaces), acetone.

Of course if you're trying to strip polyurethane, forget it. Buy new furniture or paint it. Most relatively new furniture isn't worth the effort of sanding and sanding and sanding and dusting and dusting and dusting and then refinishing.

DL Hegel
03-31-2009, 07:17 AM
Interesting, DL. Usually spray paint doesn't usually harden enough for a table finish.

There is a hardening agent which you can apply afterward, btw.

Or did you clear coat it after?

2 coats of black---1 clear coat---let it set a couple of days---worked great:)

Joe270
03-31-2009, 07:22 AM
Nice job. A friend did a black finish on a nasty avacado green chest of drawers, did a rub so some of that avacado showed through like a distressed-antique sorta finish. It turned out beautifully, with two or three layers of clear coat on top.

I was shocked at how good it looked.

But you didn't strip the factory finish, so your project, and my friend's project, doesn't fit in with my tips. Ya'll did it the smart way first.

Medievalist
03-31-2009, 07:23 AM
In my teens I helped my parents re-finish their floors.

My dad rented a sander; it looked a lot like a floor polisher, or a Hoover.

I weighted about 90 pounds. The sander dragged me all over the floor.

DL Hegel
03-31-2009, 07:27 AM
Nice job. A friend did a black finish on a nasty avacado green chest of drawers, did a rub so some of that avacado showed through like a distressed-antique sorta finish. It turned out beautifully, with two or three layers of clear coat on top.

I was shocked at how good it looked.

But you didn't strip the factory finish, so your project, and my friend's project, doesn't fit in with my tips. Ya'll did it the smart way first.

to be honest I am a cheap skate and lazy:)

sometimes it works in my favor:)

DL Hegel
03-31-2009, 07:29 AM
In my teens I helped my parents re-finish their floors.

My dad rented a sander; it looked a lot like a floor polisher, or a Hoover.

I weighted about 90 pounds. The sander dragged me all over the floor.

that sounds awful---did anyone help you---or did you have to do it all yourself?

Joe270
03-31-2009, 07:30 AM
Medi, they now have a plate sander, which is so much easier to use. I finished a wood floor (about 50'x 30' in size) when I remodeled my business, it made the whole project so easy. Of course I still went bankrupt a few years later, but that's another story.

Note I did not say 'refinished a wood floor.

Medievalist
03-31-2009, 08:00 AM
that sounds awful---did anyone help you---or did you have to do it all yourself?

It was mostly me; my parents both worked and very much had their hands full; it was summer.

The first floor I did, in the master bed room upstairs has several strands of my hair permanently embedded under the polyuerethane :D

There's also a small square of much newer floor in the closet . . . did you know that if you leave a sander standing still for just seconds it wears a hole?

:D

Joe270
03-31-2009, 08:31 AM
There's also a small square of much newer floor in the closet . . . did you know that if you leave a sander standing still for just seconds it wears a hole?

Yep, and any side to side motion will leave gouges. The plate sander doesn't do any of that, and it's loads faster.

Ol' Fashioned Girl
03-31-2009, 04:47 PM
Ahhh, memories.

Ol' Fashioned Dad was a re-finisher most of his life. I lived with all those lovely chemicals from birth 'til the tender age of 18 years. I remember being sent out to the garage to get Dad for dinner and walking into a fog of shellac - in the middle of which he stood, cigarette (unfiltered Camel) hanging from between his lips, with an open-flame heater in the corner...

It's a wonder we weren't all blown to hell-n-gone.

But I was Daddy's Li'l Girl and he taught me everything he knew about re-finishing. I was at his elbow most of the time when I wasn't in school. Unfortunately, he retired and I lost interest about the time I should have been learning how to mix-n-match colors.

I've refinished antique chests, tables, chairs, desks, beds... gee, I miss Dad. :)

Mela
03-31-2009, 07:38 PM
I have a lot of antique furniture I painted and stripped myself ...
I thought the stripping was pretty easy - I use some orange stuff that smells like orange too
that reminds me of a knock knock joke ...
anyway ;)
the biggest problem I had with stripping was the mess - I put down newspapers but the stuff got all over the basement floor
and you have to be careful with intricate scrolly medallion areas if you're stripping or else you'll pull off something quite pretty ... as I almost did because I hit an area where the 3 layers of paint weren't scraping off easily. That was 9 years ago.
I do get complements on the piece.
Now I'm thinking of painting it. :)

KCathy
03-31-2009, 08:24 PM
For a split-second I thought your post title said, "Jesus'...tips," and I thought, Well, he was a carpenter.

Maybe I should have some more coffee.

Adam
03-31-2009, 08:38 PM
Joe270, I like your style and would very much like to subscribe to your newsletter.

:)

James81
03-31-2009, 08:41 PM
I always just assumed that people refinish furniture because they enjoyed the PROCESS of refinishing furniture, not because they think it'll save them money.

stormie
03-31-2009, 10:21 PM
Thank you for this thread, Joe. Think I'll print your post out. My husband has been talking about refinishing our 20+ year old dinette chairs. Five of them. The table is fine. I'd like to just buy new chairs that'll sort of match. And he's never done refinishing before. (And we're talking about spindle-backed chairs. Ugh.)

Ol' Fashioned Girl
03-31-2009, 10:29 PM
Get him one kinda like the set to practice on. That'll take care of him.

MaryMumsy
04-01-2009, 01:54 AM
I always just assumed that people refinish furniture because they enjoyed the PROCESS of refinishing furniture, not because they think it'll save them money.

Or because they got this really old, massive, fabulous desk at a garage sale and it still had nasty shellac (in poor condition) on it from the 20's. I did it myself, and would never do it again. Even my wonderful desk would get farmed out to someone who did it for a living. A dinette set would have never been on my radar. That was the nastiest job I ever did (even worse than removing the decomposing raccoon from under the deck).

MM

Sweetleaf
04-01-2009, 05:48 AM
Things like this why I have a husband.

My friend's husband is a car painter and he refinished their coffee table and gave a few clear coats of car paint.

Now try scratching her table! It works better on wood than it does on a car!

Joe270
04-01-2009, 09:42 AM
Over, your friend's husband can come in reallllllly handy. I had a friend who worked with an auto dealer's body shop paint a brown fridge for me. Holy cow, the finish was perfect, and has lasted for so long.

Now that's too far away to send my dinette set since we moved a few years back, but it's a darned good idea. I'd love to have it painted fire-engine red, with seven layers of clear-coat.

stormie
09-07-2011, 10:14 PM
Wow, an oldie but a goodie. I just read it through and it brought back such fond memories--

My husband never did get around to refinishing those chairs, thankfully. Since then we've bought an old side table and three clocks from yard sales, all of them looking like nice distressed pieces to go with the nice distressed dining room chairs. :D

The only thing that needed refinishing was a 1946 radio, and he got a friend to do it for a nominal fee. Looks great.