A Comprehensive List of Materials for Restoring Wooden Furniture

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Home improvement

Workshop Supplies: Painter’s Tape, Oils, Rags, Rope

When it comes to repairing and refinishing furniture, paint and varnish removers, abrasives, and adhesives are the most commonly used materials. However, there are several other basic materials that are just as important to have in your workshop. Here are some of them:

Painter’s Tape or Blue Tape. This tape is ideal for precise outlining when applying finishes. It can also be used to clamp irregular glue joints. It’s recommended to buy two sizes: 1/2 inch wide and 1-1/2 inches wide.

Throwaway Paintbrushes. You can purchase very cheap paintbrushes to use and dispose of. While this may seem wasteful, the solvents used to clean the brushes, such as mineral spirits or thinner, are usually more expensive than the brush itself. Additionally, consider the time spent cleaning the brushes. Use these throwaways for applying base finishes and stain, but avoid using them for top and finishing coats of any material. For final finishes, more expensive bristle brushes are necessary and should be bought as needed.

Paste Wax. Hard wax is typically the best option for most furniture refinishing jobs. It is available in a variety of wood-tone colors, so it’s recommended to purchase neutral wax for your workshop inventory and add special colored waxes as needed for specific projects.

Black Wire. Fine black wire is a versatile product that can be used for numerous tasks, such as rewiring furniture springs or clamping splits in rounds. Single-strand black steel wire is the recommended option, and one roll that contains around 25 feet should be sufficient.

Linseed Oil. Oils are frequently used in the finishing process. Since linseed oil tends to deteriorate over time, it’s recommended to purchase just a pint or quart of it initially and add more as needed.

Mineral Oil. This oil is used for mixing pigments in furniture refinishing. It’s suggested to purchase a small bottle initially and add more if required for your finishing schedule.

Turpentine. A quart of turpentine should be sufficient, as it can be used for finishing cleanup and for thinning certain solvent-based finishes.

Mineral Spirits. This material is useful for cleaning wood, finishing cleanup, and thinning certain solvent-based finishes. Once again, it’s recommended to purchase a quart at a time.

Denatured Alcohol. A quart of denatured alcohol is enough for most situations. It can be used to remove and/or test shellac finishes and to thin shellac for sealing and finishing.

Lacquer Thinner. This is effective for removing lacquer finishes and for cleanup purposes. A quart of it should be enough for most tasks.

Wood Fillers. Wood fillers include wood plastic, water putty, shellac sticks, putty sticks, and colored wax scratch-mending sticks. Spackling compound is also useful for filling rough edges. It’s recommended to keep a small can of neutral wood filler on hand, as it tends to dry out quickly. Purchase wood-tone wood filler as needed for matching purposes. If a matching color cannot be found, mix a drop or two of stain with the filler. It’s important to note that wood filler has no structural strength, so clean the wood with mineral spirits before using it. Water putty is sold in powder form and should be mixed with water to create a thick paste. It dries hard as stone and can be shaped with cutting and smoothing tools. Shellac sticks, putty sticks, and wax scratch-mending sticks are available in numerous colors, so purchase them as needed. Spackling compound, in powder form, is also recommended to have on hand as it’s inexpensive and doesn’t deteriorate. Use it on the rough edges of unfinished furniture.

To refinish furniture, you will need several materials. Clean cloths, towels, and sponges are essential for all refinishing work. Tack cloths are also necessary to clean the piece just before applying the finish. You can purchase tack cloths at paint supply outlets or make your own by following a simple process. Soak a white cotton dishtowel in clean water, wring it as dry as possible, and fold it in several layers to make a pad. Pour several ounces of turpentine over the folds and work the cloth until the turpentine thoroughly penetrates the cloth. Next, pour several ounces of varnish into the folds of the turpentine-dampened cloth and work the varnish through the cloth to distribute it evenly. Renew the tackiness of tack cloths with several drops of turpentine and varnish as they tend to dry out during use. Bleaches such as laundry bleach and oxalic acid crystals or powder are useful for removing old stain or filler. For wood bleaching, a two-part commercial wood bleach is necessary. Aluminum foil can be used to keep strippers from drying out, while rope, string, and toothpicks are versatile and can be used for several purposes. Lastly, old pieces of wood can be used to replace furniture components, and scraps of hardwood are useful for glue blocks and braces. These materials are essential for furniture restoration and repairs, so make sure to include them on your must-have list for your workshop.


1. What are the most common types of wooden furniture restoration materials?

There are a variety of wooden furniture restoration materials available, but the most common ones include wood filler, sandpaper, wood glue, wood stain, and polyurethane finish.

2. How do I choose the right wood filler for my furniture restoration project?

The type of wood filler you choose will depend on the size and depth of the damage you need to repair. For small cracks or holes, a water-based wood filler is usually sufficient. For larger repairs or deeper gouges, an epoxy-based wood filler is more appropriate.

3. Can I use any type of sandpaper for furniture restoration?

No, it’s important to choose the right grit of sandpaper for your furniture restoration project. Coarse grit sandpaper (around 60 grit) is best for removing old finish or paint, while finer grits (around 120-220 grit) are better for smoothing out the wood surface before applying new finish.

4. What type of wood glue is best for furniture restoration?

PVA (polyvinyl acetate) glue is the most commonly used wood glue for furniture restoration. It dries clear and is water-resistant, making it a good choice for most furniture repairs.

5. When should I use wood stain during furniture restoration?

If you want to change the color of your furniture or enhance its natural grain, wood stain is the way to go. Apply it after sanding and before applying a finish. Be sure to choose a stain that is compatible with the type of wood you are working with.

6. What is the best way to apply a polyurethane finish to my restored furniture?

The best way to apply a polyurethane finish is to use a brush or sprayer. Make sure to apply several thin coats, allowing each coat to dry completely before applying the next. Sand lightly between coats to remove any rough spots.

7. How can I protect my restored furniture from future damage?

One of the best ways to protect your restored furniture is to apply a wax or oil finish. These finishes penetrate the wood and provide a protective layer that helps to repel water and other liquids. Be sure to reapply the finish every 6-12 months to keep your furniture looking great.

8. Can I restore antique wooden furniture without damaging its value?

Yes, it is possible to restore antique wooden furniture without damaging its value. However, it’s important to use caution and consult with a professional before making any major repairs or changes to the piece. In general, it’s best to preserve as much of the original finish and patina as possible, while making only minor repairs.

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