(Again, my photography skills just do NOT do it justice!)
I loved this project!
I bought this chair at an auction last week and it was a hot mess! I couldn't wait to get started.
I took the "before" picture after I had already started wiping it down with lacquer thinner...but you can still see it was in pretty bad shape!
"Minor" repairs, like the rocker, are not that big of a deal. All it needed were a couple of new screws! What is time consuming on these projects is stripping off the old finish...
Man...talk about labor intensive. I really thought that most of the old finish had pretty much "disappeared" over time (like the old mahogany chair I refinished here).
But this old gal had A LOT of old (and very stubborn) finish on her old bones...so getting it all off was a chore! I first tried my favorite...Formby's varnish remover. It was "melting" SOME of the old finish but I knew it would take a lot of remover and a ton of elbow grease! So I tried lacquer thinner...nope. Sanding....put a tiny dent in it but when there are spots with lots of finish next to bare wood, too many things can go wrong! So I pulled out my last resort....a harsh chemical remover. I painted it on, let it sit for 30 minutes, then scrapped off the goo.
After that, I used the Formby's to remove the leftover goo and what was left of the old finish. And the REAL trick to stripping furniture....a toothbrush. That's right....it is the ONLY way to get in all the little nooks and crannies. Just dip it in the finish remover and then scrub away! Toothbrushes are tough enough to do the job but soft enough not to cause damage!
And then I gave it a mineral spirit bath, A VERY light sanding, followed by tack cloth.
Using the mineral spirits allows you to get a hint of what the color will be after you oil the piece. So I knew I didn't need or want to add any stain...just an oil finish.
I usually use tung oil...but I had a can of Teak oil on hand and I have never used it on a project so I decided to give it a try. Sooooo glad I did....BEAUTIFUL!
A seat...as you can see from the "before" picture, it didn't have one. So I cut a piece of 5/8" plywood to fit, added 4" memory foam, a little batting and the grain sack linen fabric I have been hoarding!
OIL VS. POLY....
Some will ask...why "oil" over "poly" finish. Honestly, I never use poly on natural woods. I will spray on clear poly to seal a paint finish, but never on natural or stained wood.
I have used teak, danish and tung oil. My preference usually depends on the wood I am treating. I love the teak on this oak. I loved the danish on the mahogany...and when it comes to my mid-century pieces, I use Tung Oil.
Truth be told, most of the "name brand" oils (teak, tung and danish) are all pretty much the same as far as chemical makeup...a varying combination of oil, varnish and mineral spirits. I guess you can say I go with a "brand" more than the actual "type" of oil.
Regardless, I like the oils for several reasons. First, in my opinion they give a superior durable and protective finish. Oils penetrate the wood and help condition wood that has been neglected. It allows the "texture" of the wood grain to shine! And "refreshing" the finish or repairing a scratch or a ding is a breeze ...a little steel wool, a little tack and then recoat.
But the greatest thing about oils for a novice DIYer is the ease of use. You just wipe it on, let it dry and then steel wool and tack between each coat. No fewer than 2, but 3-4-5 on pieces that get a lot of wear and use (table tops, chairs, etc).
I use a "stain sponge" to apply the oil (next to the stains at Lowe's....packages of 2 for less than $3). I like them because they are relatively lint free. You can reuse the sponge IF you seal it in a ziploc bag between uses. The oil will harden on the sponge if you don't! And it will harden after a few days regardless so just toss it after you finish the piece you are working on!
Give it a try...next time you are refinishing a piece of wood, skip the poly and give oil a shot. I promise you will love it!