Refurbishing an oak pantry cabinet can be a wise investment of your time and effort, assuming that the overall condition of your cabinetry is still good. Before starting on your project, take pictures of your existing cabinets. They’ll come in handy if you going to match the stain, and they’ll provide a “before and after” comparison that you can be proud of.
A kitchen environment can be hard on pantry cabinets. Everything from dirt, grease, oils and food particles become embedded in the wood over time giving them a dingy look. Before changing the finish, first give your pantry doors a deep cleaning. This is a necessary first step to pre the wood so that the new paint or stain will take to the oak properly.
If your cabinets need more work than a deep cleaning, consider a stripper or restoration-type product to remove the existing finish. Some sanding with a very fine grit will get you to the point where you can apply a new stain and protect it with a polyurethane coat. Due to its open grain composition, you'll need some grain filler when working with oak. The filler will smooth out imperfections and give your oak a nice even finish.
Once the cabinets have been cleaned, stripped and sanded, consider what kind of stain you’d like to use. Take into account any changes you’ve made to your kitchen's decor such as painting, flooring or windows that did not include updating your cabinetry. This is the time to tie your kitchen design together by coordinating the look of the cabinets with the other design elements in the room.