Repairing Furniture

You can give a new lease of life to old wooden furniture by stripping the existing finish to bare wood and then applying a new finish. How you tackle this job depends on what finish the piece already has, and how you intend to refinish it once you have stripped

The most common finishes on everyday furniture are paint, varnish and lacquer and the most satisfactory way of removing these is to use a liquid chemical paint and various removers. Several different formulations are available, but the safest to use is a non-caustic (toxic) and solvent-free remover. It may take longer than other types to remove the paint, but it is much more environmentally friendly than other types. If left on for long enough, it will also remove numerous coats of paint in one application, and the stripped surface can then be varnished or stained as an alternative to repainting.

You should also use a chemical remover on old furniture that may have been painted more than 30 years ago with primers and paints containing lead pigments. If possible, wrap the scrapings from such pieces in cooking foil (tin foil), then dispose of them according to local regulations.

Always follow the manufactures instructions carefully when using a paint remover, especially as far as neutralizing the product before applying any new finish.

You can also strip old finishes using a hot-air gun instead of a chemical remover. This method is quicker and, in the long term, cheaper once the tool has repaid its original purchase price. However, there is a slight risk of charring the wood, especially on mouldings and external corners, so it is best used if you definitely intend to repaint the piece.

Select an old paintbrush for the job, and wear rubber or PVC (vinyl) gloves and safety glasses to protect you from any splashes of the paint remover. Following the manufacturer’s instructions, apply a thick coat and leave it to soften the paint.

Test the softened paint with a flat-bladed scraper to see whether the remover has penetrated to the bare wood. then scrape it off, working along the grain, and deposit the scrapings in a tin or other non-plastic container.

Use the appropriate blade of a combination shave hook to scrape the paint from concave or convex mouldings and other cured surfaces.

Use an old toothbrush to work there mover into corners and the hard-to-reach recesses of mouldings. Serape out any paint that conventional tools cannot reach by improvizing with household implements such as toothpicks.

Use a pad of line wire (steel) wool to scrub the last of the remover from the wood grain, and strip any stubborn paint or varnish Iron hard-to-reach corners.

Close a hot-air gun to soften paint on large, flat areas where you are able 0) use abroad scraper to work quickly and on surfaces you will be repainting.

Simple Repairs For Wooden Chairs

If you need extra seats around the kitchen table, look out for inexpensive second-hand wooden chairs which can be renovated easily and then refinished to look as good as new. Typical utility chairs like these often suffer front loose

Turn the chair upside down on your workbench and inspect all the joints. If you detect any movement, carefully knock the joint apart with a soft-faced (rubber)mallet. Number marine components first if dismantling several joints.

Use fine abrasive paper (sandpaper) to remove all traces of old adhesive from the ends of the dismantled rails, and clean up the holes or mortises into which they lit. Then apply PVA (white) woodworking adhesive (wood glue) to each rail end.

However, all these defects are relatively easy to put right. All you need arc some simple woodworking tools, a portable workbench to hold your patient still while you operate, and a couple of hours of spare time.

Reassemble the joint by hand, tapping with rho mailer if necessary to coax reluctant members (pieces) back together again. Then use a web mum (bar clamp or strap clamp) to hold the joint securely while the adhesive sets.

Repair splits in chair rails by prising (prying) them open and squirting in some woodworking adhesive (wood glue).Than use a 0-cramp (C-clamp) and apiece of card (cardboard) as packing to cramp (clamp) the split tightly shut. Wipe off excess adhesive (glue) before it sets.

If the chair does not stand square after you have remade any loose joints, stand it squarely on the legs and carefully measure by how much it is off the ground. Saw this amount from the ends of the other three legs.


You can’t restore chairs with drop-in seats by removing the seat from the chair frame, stripping off the old material and

1 Remove all the old, stained or damaged material from the sear. Then use the existing scat pad to cut a piece of lining fabric just large enough to cover the underside of the pad. It will he used later on in step 5.

2 If the existing seat pad is sagging, help it by adding more wadding (batting). To give the pad a smooth, rounded shape, cover the whole surface with a thin layer of wadding (batting). Turn this to the underside of the pad and staple it in place.

3 Cut out a piece of lining fabric big enough to cover the top and sides of the pad, plus a generous allowance for folding to the underside

4 Place the pad face down squarely on the fabric, pull each edge of the fabric over CO the underside and secure it initially with a staple at each corner.

5 Hold the fabric taut along each edge of the seat in turn and staple it at intervals of about 25 mm/I in. Turn the fabric edges in and press them flat. with an iron. Then staple or slip-stitch the underneath piece of fabric in place.


I. Remove the damaged webbing after prising our all the old tacks with a tack litter. Count out how many strips run in each direction and measure their length so that you can estimate how much webbing you will need to buy.

2. Fit the cross strips first. Fold over one end of each new strip of webbing and tack it to the frame. Then pull it across, cut it20 nun/V4 in overlong and fold the end over as before. Hold the strip taut and rack the other end to the frame.

3. Tack the rear end of each front-to-back strip to the frame, then weave it over and under the cross strips to the front of the seat. Pull it taut, turn the end over and tack it down to complete the repair


Once you have stripped your furniture back to bare wood, you can finish it in one of several ways to enhance the colour and grain of the wood – or you can simply repaint- it. The choice is yours, and which you select will probably depend most of all on the quality of the wood your stripping activities have revealed. If you decide on a ‘clear’ finish, the next decision is whether merely to varnish the wood or to add some colour to it as ‘,yell.

Adding colour can be done in several ways; by applying wood stain followed by varnish, by using tinted varnish or by rubbing in one of the coloured wax finishes available for a subtle (though not so durable) effect.

1. Once you have neutralized the effects of the paint remover according to the manufacturer’s instructions, rub down the surface of the wood and flatten the grain with line glass paper or fine sandpaper wrapped around a sanding block.

2. Wipe the surface of this wood overusing a cloth pad moistened with white spirit. (paint thinner) or a tack cloth to liftoff any sanding dust and to remove any greasy finger marks. Allow to dry.

3. lf you have chosen to use a stain, apply the first coat with a cloth pad, moving it quickly and with even pressure along the grail, to avoid overlaps that would spoil the finish. Repeat the procedure for a deeper colour.

4. If you want a quick-drying finish — on bare wood or over a wood stain apply clear warer-based acrylic varnish. Tinted versions are also available if you want to add a little colour to bare wood.

5. Coloured waxes are quick and easy to apply with a cloth pad, and give a better looking finish than varnish. However, the finish will need further, regular applications of clear wax to keep it looking good and wearing well.