Before you dive into re-staining an old piece of wooden furniture it is critical that you spend time preparing your wood to be stained. Let me tell you, this involves lots of time, elbow grease and love. I find that sanding and preparing the wood for the stain is the hardest part. It is not difficult per say…just incredibly time consuming. Below you will find my list of tips and tricks for perfect sanding and furniture preparation for any refinishing project.
Some of you may remember that I blogged about buying a new desk a few months ago. I got it from a nice couple who bought it 55 years ago. They were getting ready to downsize so they sold they desk on Kijiji to Eric and I.
Below you will find the process that I went through to refinish this lovely old desk.
Orbital Sander vs. The Old Fashion Way (AKA sanding by hand)
When I was preparing my desk I decided to use an orbital sander for all the flat surfaces. I choose to use an orbital sander because I find it is faster and that it produces more even finish than hand sanding. When using an orbital sander don’t press down. All you have to do is gently guide the sander and let it work its magic. Another important tip is to remove the sander from your wood surface before you turn the machine on or off. This will help avoid scratching your surface and creating an uneven finish.
Although I used an orbital sander for large flat surfaces I still hand sanded awkward nooks and rounded surfaces. This is a crucial step for achieving an even finish and making sure every inch of your project is sanded. Although many people use a sanding sponge for this step for this particular project I just used plain old sand paper.
Although I did not use a sanding sponge many people recommend using one. Using a sanding sponge makes it easier to achieve a more even finish. To read more about the advantages of using a sanding sponge check this Design Sponge Tutorial.
Choosing the correct sandpaper
If you have ever bought sand paper you will know that it comes in different grits. The lower the grit number, the coarser and more ruff the sandpaper is. To complete this sanding project I used three separate types of sandpaper. One with a grit of 80 (the coarsest), the second had a grit of 120 (medium) and the final sanding stage I used sandpaper with a grit of 180 (the finest grained paper I used).
When I refinished my desk I started with the coarsest paper I had. This paper had a grit of 80 and was great for removing the bulk of the original stain as well as well as large scratches and scuff marks. I spent the most time using 80 grit sandpaper.
Once I was satisfied that the majority of the stain was removed I switched to sand paper with a grit of 120. As you switch to finer sand paper you will notice that your project becomes increasingly smoother. I found that I spend much less time using this grain of paper when compared to the time I spent on the 80 grit paper.
Once the wood felt as smooth as it was going to get I switched to the final sandpaper with a grit of 180. This sandpaper is for final sanding and cleansing. You will notice that your projects feel super smooth and polished after you finish using this grit. By the time you finish with the 180 your piece of wood furniture should have its stain removed.
Moving Onto the Next Step
If you have made it this far it probably feels like you have been sanding (and reading for that matter!!) forever. At this point you are almost ready to start staining. Before you apply stain to your piece of wood you must ensure that it is clean and dust-free. You do not want dust and grime stuck in your stain. To get cleaned up and ready for the next step I wiped my desk down with a dry cloth and vacuumed up all the saw dust from its nooks and crannies. Once your project is dust-free you are ready to move onto the next step!
Stayed tuned for part two and learn about applying stain and find out how my desk turned out!