I have always enjoyed working with wood and refinishing wood furniture – for a number of reasons. Timber is a reliably easy material to work with, and quite forgiving – and the renovated / restored result can be quite impressive. My earliest projects were while in high school – making boxes, coffee mug trees and the like. They were usually finished off with several slapped on coats of estapol or shellac (my first foray into French Polishing).
So it seemed a natural progress when I left school and a job opportunity came up at a local French Polishing factory. It was there that I completed my trade and learned all aspects of the furniture restoration and refinishing industry. I was lucky in that I had all the required tools at my fingertips – so giving me a great understanding of what can be achieved in a commercial environment, but just as importantly what can be done in a home environment – often with just a few basic tools (mostly found in most backyard sheds!)
The addition of timber furniture to your home can add that certain something – and is a source of pride when the piece was restored with your very own hands. As with all furnishings, all tastes are different and match a different interior design. The trick is working out exactly what your taste is – and combining the pieces to be both functional and pleasant on the eye. One important thing to remember when refinishing wood furniture to decorate your home is that as well as having the option to use the natural timer colourings, there's also the availability of a wide range of stains to color the piece to suit the rest of your room and home.
Where to start …
Firstly, you need a project. This can be a piece already owned (in need of some TLC), or can be purchased through a number of sources – try local garage / yard sales; second hand or charity stores; classifieds or even online via a number of classified and auction sites.
Important note here – start small (whereby I mean a relatively easy restoration). This might be something as simple as a light sand and refinish, or could include some minor repairs (re-gluing some loose joints). As afore-mentioned, timber is quite forgiving – and a bit of good old fashioned sand paper and some elbow grease can tidy up the odd mistake!
Learn – from others, from books, the internet. Take a course. These days information is everywhere – another great place for inspiration are online forums. These give access to like minded people, and often industry experts.
Have some basic tools – screwdrivers; hammers; a drill; some clamps … The list does go on – and is limited mainly by your budget, but you can get by with some basic hand tools and the right refinishing tools (sandpaper, brushes, rags). Build your workshop as you go.
Most importantly, have plenty of patience and above all have fun! I find refinishing wood furniture to be a relaxing, rewarding hobby … so might you!