Furniture Refinishing 3 - Preparation

Time: Time will depend on the size and complexity of your project. Be sure to allow plenty of time to complete the stripping in one day, and remember to allow for drying times for any finishes you apply.


Tools required for refinishing furniture are not very specialized. Most of them should be found in your home toolbox.

  • Natural bristle brushes (preferable to synthetic ones, which can melt when they come in contact with harsh chemicals)
  • Steel wool (0000-3)
  • Old paint brushes
  • Paint scraper
  • Plastic buckets
  • Putty knife
  • Brass bristle brushes
  • Screwdrivers
  • Durable rubber gloves
  • Safety goggles
  • Canvas and plastic drop cloths
  • Squeegee
  • Screwdrivers
  • Wood chisels
  • Files
  • Syringe or putty knife
  • Sanding shapes
  • Sanding block
  • Orbital sander
  • Electric drill
  • Lamb's wool pad for drill
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Rubber mallet
  • Various clamps (appropriate to your project)
  • Very sharp razor blade
  • Seam roller

Materials: The materials are somewhat specialized, although many of these you will have on hand, and all of them are readily available at home centers and hardware stores.

  • Denatured alcohol
  • Cotton balls
  • Clean dry rags
  • Steel wool
  • Paper towels or rags
  • Newspaper
  • Cardboard box
  • Cotton swabs
  • Toothpicks
  • Sandpaper (100-120 grit)
  • Carpenter's wood glue
  • Wood dough
  • Waxed paper
  • Tack cloth
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Masking tape
  • Lacquer thinner
  • Paraffin or linseed oil
  • Latex wood filler
  • Mineral spirits
  • Stain
  • Sanding sealer
  • Finishing sealer
  • Paste wax

Permits and Codes

No permits are needed when refinishing furniture. Codes do not apply here.


The design aspect of furniture refinishing rests in your choice of pieces to strip, repair and refinish. Choose carefully for value, planning the selection to enhance the individual rooms of your home.

Most Common Mistakes

The most common mistake in furniture refinishing is failure to read and follow manufacturers' instructions for chemicals being used. Other common mistakes are listed with each specific step.