Make It Last: How to Update & Repair Vintage Wood Furniture

Make It Last: How to Update & Repair Vintage Wood Furniture

Cate Henderson
Oct 7, 2017

We've all heard the phrase "they don't make 'em like they used to," which in my experience, cannot be more true when it comes to quality-made furniture. Dovetailed drawers or burled wood veneer seems to have been replaced by the convenience of assemble-yourself, particle-board furniture. Although these pieces are affordable, the poor construction quality makes them practically disposable. But if you get your hands on some solid wood furniture (look for these tell-tale signs), you may only need a few simple tricks to keep an outdated piece relevant.

Oil it

Love the lines of a vintage wooden piece but the finish seems dry or cracked? Sometimes the easiest fix is to re-oil the wood. Think about it, you moisturize your skin when it feels dry right? Well wooden furniture needs a little pampering every now and then too.

Wax it

The drawers that is. I often find old dressers have a sticky drawer or two. But the culprit is almost always the track - not the drawer. Try rubbing an old candle on the track - a coat of wax can help lubricate and reduce friction (see some more unstuck tips here). If that doesn't work, it could be the wood expanding/ contracting in extreme temperatures. I've been able to get a drawer to fit by shaving the edges for a smoother fit.

Strip it

Inherited a piece with a paint-job gone wrong? Stripping it back down to the wood is not as hard as you may think, especially if you use the right paint stripper and a good putty knife. I personally like CitriStrip Stripping Gel since it's indoor-safe and has minimal fumes. Still doubting the amount of sweat-equity?

Paint it

It's no secret that a little paint can go a long way, but using a clever paint treatment can bring a vintage piece back into this century. Try an unexpected pattern or a two-tone finish for something more trendy.