REFINISHING BENTWOOD CHAIRS

September 20, 2018

For a while I had these vintage bentwood chairs. I love this classic silhouette. They were dirty and in rough-ish shape, but I got them on craigslist a while ago for I think $20 or 30 for all of them!

They probably are not my most ideal dining chair. Maybe I will upgrade to something more comfortable in the future. But I like the look and they have my new biggest requirement for seating at dining areas – NO UPHOLSTERY (except for leather.) Got to be able to easily clean!

Working on furniture with lots of curves and nooks is a bit of a different strategy than when doing something more squared off like a dresser or shelf.

First we cleaned them with a damp cloth to get any obvious dust or easy dirt off. Then we did two rounds of citristrip gel on the entire chair to remove the old stain. The citristrip goes on with a paint brush then after thirty minutes you can remove the gel and the old stain with rags and steel wool.

David used a painters tool and a putty knife to clean out the many crannies where the citristrip got stuck and was unreachable with the rags. When the chairs were dry, we sanded everything with 120 grit sandpaper to remove any remaining residue. To get the chairs really clean and finish it off, a soapy rag and a toothbrush for detailing did the trick.

At this point the chairs were ready for a protective finish. We chose a rub-on water based polyurethane because I DID NOT WANT YELLOW-ING  and rub-on products work well for curved surfaces where brushes would leave drips.

To prep the surface for the polyurethane we sanded once more with 120 grit sandpaper then cleaned off the dust with a damp cloth. To apply the polyurethane, we used a lint free cloth saturated in the product to wet all the surfaces of the chair. You have to work fairly quickly since the water based finish dries quite fast.

We did three coats of the poly, lightly sanding with 120 grit sandpaper and cleaning the dust in between coats (except for the last one!). To make sure the finish cured all the way we left them outside for a few days before using them.

They were more orange-y before and I much prefer the look of the natural wood with just clear poly! That makes us one step closer to finishing the dining room. Now I just have to get this stupid vintage rug I bought clean!

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