Friday I embarked on the adventure of starting work on my new furniture rehab project (click link to see before photos). First step was to refinish the beautiful wood legs. They have a great shape but the finish was pretty beat up and I wanted them to have a little more contrast with a darker stain.
I started by removing the little brass feet caps and setting those aside. There are little screws that stick out of the bottom to secure it to the top so in order to get them to stand up while I worked on them I flipped over some terra cotta pots and set the legs on the bottom (using the drainage hole to set them flat).
As advised by others, I decided to give Citristrip a try. It can be found at Home Depot or Lowes near the paint thinners. It’s a little less harsh than traditional stripping solutions and smells kind of like orange juice.
Make sure you wear rubber gloves if you decide to try this yourself. While Citristrip is more gentle, it will burn your skin. I used a cheap-o paint brush to brush a nice, thick layer on to the legs.
The bottle says to leave the goop on the surface for 30 minutes to 24 hours. The existing finish wasn’t very heavy so I went with an hour (I also am limited on space and had to work on out porch so 24 hours isn’t an option). You could really see the gel working and the finish loosening the finish.
I tested a little section and when I saw it was ready to go I held it over a trash can and went to town. I used a curved scraping tool and scrapped off the finish as much as I possibly could. It was still hard on the round legs, even with the curved tool, but if you don’t get it all off, it’s ok. There are still two more steps.
Here is what the legs looked like after the were scraped and wiped off.
And here is my new favorite tool. I love all the different shapes and curves it has. It’s easy to get into tight corners and has a nice flat side for table tops and square legs. It will most certainly be going in my toolbox and staying there for a long time.
Side-note: Please use something heavier than butcher paper to cover your work surface. This stuff will bleed through and ruin the surface of anything it touches.
This is the legs after the next two steps. First I took a rag and washed the legs in Klean-Strip after wash. That will get the remaining stripping residue off of the wood. After they were nice and dry I sanded them with a fine grain sandpaper to get any remaining varnish I missed off and smooth out some of the imperfections and nicks. I didn’t want them to be perfect, I like a little natural wear and tear.
After sanding I wiped them down to remove dust. Then it was time to stain. This is my favorite part. It’s quick and instantly gratifying. I wanted a nice dark finish so I went with Dark Walnut from Minwax. I just used the rag application and wiped the legs down evenly. I didn’t worry about the ends since they will be covered with the feet caps. Speaking of the feet caps…
The original finish was unfortunately beyond saving. It’s hard to tell in this picture was the finish was uneven and in some cases flaking off. I use Bar Keepers Friend to scrub them down and discoved a nice industrial silver finish underneath. It was rough, but clean.
Once the stain and sealer was dry I popped the feet caps back on and tapped the tack in the bottom.
I LOVE the way they turned out. They are still vintage and rustic but much cleaner and will mesh better with our current furniture. I think the color is beautiful. Not immensely different than before, but much richer, a little darker and not as dated. I have found that this process if addicting. I’ve already done another piece of furniture, a sewing table I purchased awhile back. Photos soon, as soon as I wax it.
Next up, I’ll be sewing the piping for the upholstery. I carefully removed the original upholstery and used it as a pattern to cut my pieces. I’ve never made piping so this will be an another adventure!