How To: Refinish a Dining Table & Chairs

Project: Refinish Dining Table and Chairs
Time: Hands on time of 2.5 hours per chair and 5 hours for the table. Drying time I allowed overnight for stripped wood, overnight for 2 coats of stain, and over night for 2 coats of varnish. The set was allowed to cure for a week before using it. Total hands-on time: approximately 17.5 hours.
Cost: $100 for stripper, stain, varnish and tools, with an additional $50 for covering the chair seats.

Anita sent us in an excellent record of her DIY dining set project last year as her January Jumpstart entry. She called it the “Dumpster Diva Dining Set” and the results were very impressive. We’re bringing it back to the main page today as a “How To” to share her wisdom with any readers who are considering a refinishing project for their “February Jumpstart” this month…

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Anita says: “After years of watching DIY shows (with the Furniture Guys being one of my favorites), I knew this wasn’t a difficult project. Still, I did Google refinishing projects, just too make sure I had my plan in place.” Our favorite part of her instructions? Making a celebratory cheesecake at the end!

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
Tools and Supplies

Tell us the tools and resources you used for the project:
Heavy duty chemical resistant gloves
1.5 gallons stripper
2 qts stripped wood cleaner
Extra fine steel wool
Flat stripper tool
Nylon brush
Disposable paint tray
Wood glue
Wood filler
Inexpensive sponge applicators
1 qt stain (Minwax’s new color: Gunstock)
1 qt polyurethane finish (interior, satin)
3 yards vinyl seat covering
5 upholstery sponges things

Power screwdriver
Old shower curtain
Staple gun and staples
Paper towels
Favorite long sleeved work shirt
Comfy work jeans
Baseball cap
Crummy gym shoes & socks

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Share step by step instructions for how you completed the project:
1) Found INCREDIBLE dining set in nearby dumpster, complete with leaf and 5 chairs (one for EACH member of the family!!!). Convinced husband that nobody who’s anybody will care if they see him loading it into minivan.
2) Geared up with clothes that covered me head to toe and donned protective eye gear. Stripper is not difficult to use, but it can be very dangerous if you splash it onto your skin or worse yet, into your eyes.
3) Removed the seats to the chairs. Corralled the screws in a plastic baggy.
4) Started by applying the stripper to one chair. Used the wait time to start in on a second chair. Using the flat stripper tool, nylon brush and steel wool, I removed the bubbled up layers of old finish. Paper towels were a convenient way to clean off my tools. Once the wood was stripped, I used a stripped wood cleaner
and extra fine steel wool to quickly rinse away any stripper residue. Everything was allowed to dry at least overnight before the next step.
5) Any little edges that needed help were either glued or filled in with wood filler, and allowed to cure according to package directions.
6) The most exciting step was adding the color back into the dining set. Two coats of Gunstock color, applied with a sponge applicator made my heart sing.
7) With an afternoon free of wind, I was able to apply a coat of polyurethane to the project. The next day, after a light sanding, everything got a second coat and was allowed to cure for 1 week.
8) In the meanwhile, I was dismayed to find that the sample of vintage red colored vinyl I had my heart set upon had been discontinued by the store. So, until I can track it down, I went to plan B: black vinyl. With three kids and high traffic, these seats will need to withstand a lot of washing! After cutting the pads and
cloth, and staple gun in hand, I carefully stapled the two to the wooden seat bottoms and screwed them back into place on the chairs.
9) Made cheesecake to celebrate (recipe inside cream cheese box).

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Thanks, Anita!