Refinishing a piece of furniture takes time but is a relatively foolproof project.
Step 1: Choose a well-ventilated area and cover the floor with a plastic drop cloth. Cover the drop cloth with newspaper and set the furniture to be refinished atop the newspaper.
Step 2: Remove the existing finish. If the wood was oiled or varnished years ago, a good light sanding with 100 grit sandpaper may suffice; otherwise, use a chemical stripper to remove old paint or urethane finishes. Begin by brushing on the stripper with a disposable natural-bristle paint brush. Follow the manufacturer’s suggestions and allow the stripper to soak into the finish completely. This may take up to 24 hours for multiple layers of paint. If the stripper dries out before you are ready to scrape, brush on additional stripper to reactivate the initial coating.
Step 3: Once the finish has bubbled up, use a putty knife to scrape away the gooey paste. As you scrape, wipe the residue off the knife and onto the newspaper on the floor. As the paper gets full, dispose of it into a plastic-lined trash receptacle. Brush on additional chemical stripper and continue scraping until the majority of the finish has been removed.
Step 4: Pour a small amount of chemical stripper onto a piece of very fine steel wool. Rub the wood surface in small, circular motions using the stripper-coated steel wool to work out any remaining paint or urethane finish. Apply additional stripper or replace the steel wool, as needed, until all surface areas have been thoroughly stripped and cleaned.
Step 5: Use 120-grit sandpaper, or finer, to lightly sand the newly exposed wood surfaces.
Step 6: Once the sanding is complete, remove all dust and residue by rubbing the surface with a rag soaked in mineral spirits.
Step 7: Allow the piece of furniture to dry overnight before staining or applying an oil finish. For an old-fashioned, time-proven finish, rub the newly exposed wood with a mixture of equal parts of boiled linseed oil and turpentine. Rub the linseed oil mixture thoroughly into the wood for 15 minutes. Wipe off any excess oil. Allow to dry for at least one week, then recoat 10-20 more times, waiting a week between the first several coats and progressively longer between each consecutive coat.