Applying a varnish to oak furniture is a great way to bring back the luster of weathered oak furniture. The process only takes a few hours of work and can bring your furniture back to life.
Step 1: Remove the Old Stain or Varnish
Use medium grade sandpaper and a sanding block to remove the existing stain or varnish from the wood. While sanding, move your hand in a circular motion. Do not apply to much pressure. The goal is to expose bare wood but not take off a deep layer of wood. Dust off the furniture before proceeding.
Step 2: Repair Dents or Scratches
Use a wood filler to fill in any scratches or dents on the furniture. Put on a pair of rubber gloves. Apply a little bit of filler to each scratch or dent and use your finger to smooth it out until it is level with the surrounding wood. Allow the filler to dry for 12 hours.
Step 3: Smooth out Wood
Use a fine-grade sandpaper to sand down the entire piece of furniture. You can do this by hand or using a sanding block but be extremely careful. Use a motion which moves with the grain of the wood. When it is complete the wood should feel smooth to the touch. Test this by running your finger along the wood on the furniture and resand out any rough spots.
Step 4: Remove Dust
Use a brush to remove any dust that was deposited on the furniture during the sanding process. Then take a lightly dampened rag and wipe the furniture down making sure to remove all dust. It is important to allow the furniture to dry for several hours before applying the varnish to ensure maximum penetration and to prevent warping.
Step 5: Apply the Varnish
Apply the varnish using a soft-bristle paint brush. Dip the paint brush in the varnish and coat in smooth even strokes. Follow the grain of the wood as much as possible as this will lead to a superior finish. Do not more varnish than it takes to apply an even coat to the wood. Too much varnish can lead to bubbling. You will need to add a second coat. Allow the furniture to dry for 24 hours before applying a second coat of varnish using the same technique.
Step 6: Apply Wood Sealant
While it isn't necessary to add a wood sealant, it will help to improve the finish and protect the wood from stains. Use a paint brush and apply the sealant to the furniture using a smooth back-and-forth motion. Allow to dry for 12 hours. It may be necessary to add a second coat of sealant to ensure maximum protection.