How To Refinish Wood Furniture? Some Easy Steps And Tips

How to refinish wood furniture; or to be more precise how to refinish bentwood ice cream chairs specially which are antique pieces?

Refinishing keeps our antiques looking and functioning the best. Refinishing antique furniture can give it new life and a different look. Refinishing not only saves money, it also preserves beautiful antique furnishings that are only in need of a little refurbishing.

General maintenance of bentwood ice cream chair

Do not expose the chair to water, excessive heat, or direct sunlight. Exposure to direct sunlight may change the color shade of wooden parts, fabrics, cane parts of the product. Sharp objects, such as hard seams, rivets on trousers, pet claws etc may damage wooden, fabric, and cane parts.

Screws and bolts should be inspected every two months of use; tighten the screws that have become loose. Regular checks and tightening will extend the durability of the chair. Dust wooden parts with a soft, clean, dry cloth. For cleaning and waxing, use furniture products for bentwood – don’t use product intended for wood floors. Strictly follow the label instructions for use.

How to refinish antique bentwood ice cream chairs

To give old or antique bentwood chairs a new finish, all it takes is some time, a clear area in which to work and a few products that are available at a hardware or home improvement store.

Refinishing refers to the stripping of a surface finish on wooden furniture to apply a new finish, with wood stain or with paint.

Always remember that the least modification you make to antique bentwood ice cream chair, the better it is and the antique furniture will hold a much higher value with the least change.

Always clean older furniture pieces before you refinish, because lots of times it won't be necessary to refinish at all and with antiques the least done is the best. Many times, when the wax and grime is removed the old finish is still in good shape, or is good enough that it will just need a new application of finish over the old. Remember though, use furniture finish, not polyurethane, especially with antiques.

If the old finish is intact and not worn thin, then leave it. If it has worn thin in places, then leave it and add more finish over the old to preserve it.

Refinish old bentwood chairs


Step 1

Cover the work area with a clear plastic sheet and newspapers to prevent staining the floor.

Step 2

Put on gloves and an apron to protect against the chemicals in the stripper.

Step 3

Apply the furniture stripper to the old finish. Leave it on the surface for the amount of time recommended by the product manufacturer.

Step 4

Dip the steel wool into mineral spirits and rub it over all the chair parts to remove the excess stripper.

Step 5

Dip the steel wool into the mineral spirits often to remove the excess stripper. When the steel wool becomes gummed up with the excess stripper, take a new pad.

Step 6

When all the excess stripper is removed, wash the chair down one last time with mineral spirits and steel wool. Make sure there is no lasting residue.

Step 7

Allow it to dry. Check if it has completely dried.

Step 8

Sand the wood with 200-grit sandpaper to remove any lasting residue and make the surface smooth to the touch.

Step 9

Wipe the surface to remove sanding grit and to prepare the surface for a new finish.

Step 10

Apply the wood finish of your choice to the bentwood ice cream chairs.

Things You'll Need

Plastic sheet


Safety Glasses or face shield for eye protection

Heavy duty rubber stripping gloves

Apron; preferably rubber or rubber coated

Furniture stripper

Small bristle brush

#0 steel wool

Mineral spirits

Small container ( for taking mineral spirits )

200-grit sandpaper

Dust brush or cloths ( for removing the sanding dust )

Wood finish of your choice

Tips and Warnings

  • Do any necessary repairs before stripping and refinishing the chair. This might include gluing loose sections, filling cracks with wood filler or replacing dowels.

  • Changes in texture, minor color derivations, and natural growth defects are not faults; these are features of the genuine nature of wood. Color derivations of wooden parts are caused by the varying ability of the wood to absorb the finishing material.

  • Working with chemical strippers can be hazardous. Always work in a well ventilated area and wear rubber gloves and eye protection as well as a respirator.

Now you understand how to refinish wood furniture; or how to refinish bentwood ice cream chairs. It is not at all a difficult task. It will bring tears of joy to your eyes when you will see your lifeless wood chairs become beautiful finish chairs.

Image Credit: Tim Evanson on Flickr