Refinishing wood chairs

Any advice on how to refinish a wood chair?  I'm looking to purchase a pair of Windsor chairs off of Craigslist and plan to give them a glossy coat of lacquer.  Any idea how I would do this?  Specifically any advice on the type of sandpaper and the type of paint i would need?

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celee on Nov 30, 2006:

Here's my first attempt - check out my little project: http://www.curbly.com/celee/posts/296-Revitalizing-an-Old-Rocking-Chair.  Thanks for everyone's feedback!

jpricemoore on Nov 26, 2006:

As long as you don't use a coarse steel wool, you'll be fine.  Also, be gentle until you get a feel for how the steel wool works.  What's nice about using latex paint is that even if you do rub through the finish, it's relatively easy to touch-up.

celee on Nov 22, 2006:

Thanks so much for the advice! Wow, I'm surprised that rubbing steel wool over the painted surface does not leave scuff marks!  I'm on the hunt for chairs and I'll take some pics when I begin my project.  :)

jpricemoore on Nov 20, 2006:

Stripping off old finish sucks more than anything I can imagine!  Since you're thinking of a lacquer-type finish, you probably don't even need to completely strip off the old finish from the chairs.  If it were my project, I would first "scuff-sand" the chairs with 80 or 100-grit sandpaper.  This step will give the primer something to "hold on to."  If you really intend to apply a colored lacquer finish, you should consult your local paint store for product advice... That being said, you will need to apply a primer that's appropriate for the type of finish that you intend to use.  The primer acts as a sort of intermediary between the existing surface and the visible surface.  An alternate option, as VintageSwank indicated, would be to use a latex house paint.  It's considerably easier to apply, and is also easy to touch-up, and wears "gently."  You'll still need to prime the chair.  Benjamin Moore (not a Curbly founder, or my cousin) makes very good quality paints that I would suggest using on furniture.  They make a primer called "Fresh Start."  I'd suggest using semi-gloss sheen for the final paint color - it's durable, and easy to clean.  You can brush on the paint, and when it's dry you can "rub" the whole chair with steel wool to create an extremely smooth, soft, easy on the skin surface.  If you're going for a "glossy" look, you can spray a clear coat of lacquer or polyurethane over the paint.  Be aware, though, that lacquer will give the white paint a slightly yellow tint.

Let me know if you have more questions.... Good luck!

celee on Nov 20, 2006:

Thanks so much for your thoughtful reply.  Once I have found the chairs and complete my little project - I'll be sure to post some pics :)

VintageSwank on Nov 20, 2006:

Depending on what the chairs are covered in when you get them could determine how to refinish them. In order to spare the integrity of the wood you want to avoid alot of sanding and look more toward a chemical or natural stripping product which you can pick up at any hardware store. You want to use a nice fine steel wool to help provide the abrasive you need to get in the grain and clean the surface. Mineral Oil is always a great cleaning product to remove all the excess and grim from the wood after you have gotten all the original finish off.If you do need to sand you want to keep it light so use a finer grit like maybe 200 or 400 and finish with a nice 1000 to create a very nice smooth surface.Once you have the surface prepped and clean you can use a variety of paints or stains to refinish the surface. You will find almost all latex house paints will provide a nice finish or you could even go with a simple spray paint (not as pretty as a quality paint, but simple enough). Stain is a bit trickier to ensure an equal finish, but always proves to be a great finish.

You can then apply a lacquer with the same methods, both hand applied or spray.

You should be able to get everything you need at any hardware store.

Vintage Swank

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