How to Restore Wooden Chairs

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How to Restore Wooden Chairs

Wooden chairs are lovely and resilient pieces of furniture, but they begin to show some wear over time. When it comes to antiques or family heirlooms, many individuals prefer restoring chairs instead of replacing them. Fortunately, a number of easy-to-execute techniques are available that anyone can use to restore wooden chairs. By learning these tricks, DIYers can restore the former splendour of their wooden chairs. If a restoration project is on the horizon, a consumer should also get to know the retail options for purchasing tools and accessories for restorations. Although traditional brick-and-mortar vendors offer some items, DIYers can count on finding the products they need for restorations on eBay.

Identifying the Finish on Wooden Chairs

A finish on a wooden chair is typicallyshellac,lacquer, or varnish. Before starting a restoration on a chair, it is important to determine what type of finish is on the chair. An owner can use a cotton ball to rub some methylated spirits on an inconspicuous section of the chair. If the methylated spirits dissolve the finish, it is shellac. If the finish dissolves only in part, it is probably a mix of shellac and lacquer. A combination of alcohol and lacquer thinner dissolves this type of finish entirely. Methylated spirits have no effect on pure lacquer or wood varnish finishes. To test for these finishes, homeowners need to use lacquer thinner on its own. Lacquer thinner leaves a varnish finish crinkled, while it crinkles a lacquer finish only momentarily before it smoothes out again.

The Restoration Process

Restoring wooden chairs involves several different steps, depending on the condition of the chairs. As a first step, DIYers should clean the chairs. If that does not restore lustre to chairs, there are several other techniques to try.

Cleaning Wooden Chairs

Using a wood cleaner and conditioner and a soft cloth, the owner should rub the wood cleaner into the wooden chair, following any product-specific directions, as necessary. After letting the cleaner sit for a few hours, DIYers can wipe the cleaner off with a clean cloth. An alternative method involves using warm water and liquid detergent. Anyone working on a wooden chair must ensure that no single spot absorbs too much water. A water wash may leave a hazy film on the wood. No. 0000 steel wool addresses this issue by gently buffing the surface of the wood before using a wood cleaner to give it a conditioned look.

Reamalgamation of Wooden Chairs

Reamalgamation of a chair involves liquefying a cracked finish so it dries without cracks. This technique does not work on varnish, but it is a quick fix for shellac, lacquer, and lacquer/shellac blends. DIYers need a different solution for each type of finish.




100 per cent methylated spirits


100 per cent lacquer thinner

Lacquer/Shellac Blend

75 per cent methylated spirits and 25 per cent lacquer thinner

A user begins by cleaning the wood surface with turpentine. It is important to note that working in high humidity conditions can leave a shellac finish looking hazy. A natural-bristle brush dipped in a small amount of the solvent and brushed along the grain of the wood liquefies the finish. It is best to move the brush continuously to avoid stripping the finish entirely from one spot. As the finish liquefies and dries once more, small cracks in the finish disappear. With deep cracks, it is sometimes necessary to repeat the above steps after the first application dries.

Refinishing Worn Areas on Wooden Chairs

Short of refinishing entire chairs, DIYers can spot finish chairs for quicker fixes. To do this, they clean the problem areas and then sand them with very light grit sandpaper. If chairs have wood stains on them, they can search for wood stains that match the tone. This sometimes involves mixing various shades. Spot testing of shades in inconspicuous spots is a good idea. The owner can use an artist's brush to apply the stain to the worn area. Using No. 0000 steel wool, he or she should buff the stained area lightly and use a cloth to wipe it clean before applying a coat of lacquer, shellac, or varnish. Once everything dries, a hard paste wood wax protects the chair for longer periods of time.

How to Buy Wooden Chair Restoration Products on eBay

DIYers have access to a wealth of tools and accessories needed for wooden chair restorations on eBay. Seeking out these items is a simple matter of running a keyword search using the search bar found on any page on the site. After running a search, consumers can scan through items and click on the titles of any products that look appealing. Restoring a wooden chair to great condition does not have to be a complicated process. By learning a few tips and finding the right tools on eBay, any owner can restore a wooden chair to its former beauty and lustre.

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