How can I restore an antique looking dresser that is wood.


I found an antique looking dresser in a Goodwill store for $7.00. It was pure wood, the drawers indicated that. The outside was scratched and stain marked.

How can I take out scratches ans stains? Also handles on dresser look dark,but they look like they can be cleaned. I would like to finish it in wood look.

I didn;t purchase it, they are holding it for me. I also forgot to take a picture

  18 answers
  • I would remove the handles and use Citristrip to remove the old finish. That may take out many of the stains and scratches. After that, a light sanding and use a finish of your choice.

  • on Jul 09, 2020

    My go to with old wood is Restora-finish and Feed’n Wax. Both from Howard. Couldn’t be easier and does a beautfiul job.

  • Redcatcec Redcatcec on Jul 09, 2020

    If you like it, grab it up. it has potential and you see it. OK, take it home and clean it up, give it a sanding or a Citristrip treatment. From there after looking at the piece you can decide whether to refinish naturally or paint.

  • Cynthia H Cynthia H on Jul 09, 2020

    Hi! Give it a good cleaning first. I use a good cleaner, a scrub pad and get all the grime off. That way when I start stripping with Citristrip and steel wool I 'm taking off the old finish, not layers of dirt. Get it cleaned up, let it dry, and sand out your imperfections before staining. If there are imperfections you can't get out, you may end up going with a darker or gel stain (it sits more on the surface, and tends to hide small imperfections). But, if it's real wood, odds are with some work you can use the wood stain you want. If there are nooks or crannies you need to clean out, a toothbrush, or any soft scrub brush will help. Good luck and stay safe!

  • Cindy Cindy on Jul 09, 2020

    Hi Joanna. Well, isn't this exciting? I agree with Redcatcec. Go back to Goodwill and pick it up before it's sold. I recommend using Murphy's Oil Soap on it. The soap cleans wood and the oil will condition it.

  • Vimarhonor Vimarhonor on Jul 09, 2020

    Please consider popping by this bloggers website for her wonderful furniture rehabs. She details useful repair products, techniques and has a nice result. Many of her furniture items are from the thrift store or furniture pieces donated to her. She also has tips for removing furniture odors and how to treat the interior drawers. She obtains a lot of her hardware from Hobby lobby. Usually you can find a discount coupon for hobby lobby.

    Here’s a dresser that she recently completed will give you an idea of how to take challenged furniture pieces that need a bit of repair before painting. As well as including a link below of all of her projects and a gallery fashion.

    Best wishes with your furniture rehab.

  • Johnavallance82 Johnavallance82 on Jul 10, 2020


    I WOULD SUGGEST you sand it down to see if you can remove the stains and then re- finish it with wood stain and a polyurethane varnish or antique wax. Best wishes.

  • K. Rupp K. Rupp on Jul 10, 2020

    Strip it with a paint stripper(assuming it was already painted before). You can skip that step and get to sanding. Just know there will be a ton of dust!! Use a vacuum when sanding. Sand it all down, start with 180 grit or less and work your way up to 220 grit. Vac...tac cloth.

    To stain:

    Precondition the wood with a wood preconditioner so the wood accepts the stain evenly. Then use whatever stain. To get a pro finish(like in a furniture store), steel wool in between coats. You will want to finish it off with a nice sealer. I like WATERLOX. It's amazing! I hear great things about general Finishes sealers as well. Check out my post where I was re-doing a bench. Follow the instructions here and you will get a very smooth stained finish.

    But the key is a few coats because it is very thin.

    To paint:

    after the sanding, then prime with a good primer (like Benjamin Moore primer). Steel wool in between coats to get a super smooth finish. Then use a nice paint for furniture.

    For painted furniture I have heard General Finishes topcoat is amazing. I personally haven't tried it yet, but I have a friend who has tried different things and this was her favorite pick.

    I love Benjamin Moore advance for painted furniture. It is a HEAVY DUTY paint (actually for cabinets) but it won't give you the chipping and wear like other paints. Has self leveling prosperities even if you are using a brush. With this paint you don't need a topcoat sealer. It is very expensive but I feel it is worth it. I have painted other furniture with other paints and this is my go-to now. Steel wool in between coats! Check out my post where I used this cabinet paint:

    Good luck!

  • Chloe Crabtree Chloe Crabtree on Jul 10, 2020

    If it has not been painted, you can sand this piece and then use a tack cloth to remove all of the dust and then use a stain to bring back the wood grain.

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Jul 10, 2020

    Remove handles and place in a crock pot with vinegar. Don't use the crock pot for food after that.

    Old English makes scratch cover in 2 shades, light & dark, so if the scratches are superficial they can be covered with it. If not, you can stand and restain. I did some cabinets for my laundry room with the all in one Minwax product and love it.

  • Unexpected Elegance Unexpected Elegance on Jul 10, 2020

    The simplest way would be to use a chalk paint, but you could also sand it down, prime and paint with a latex.

  • Morgan McBride Morgan McBride on Jul 10, 2020

    Look into Restore-A-Finish!

  • Sharon Sharon on Dec 09, 2020

    Rejuvante is a good product for refurbishing furniture and getting rid of scratches. If there is a deep scratch you can also buy tinted filler in many wood tones to fill it. If its dirty, I just use either Awesome Orange cleaner or ammonia mixed in hot water using a sponge from the Dollar Tree, if its really greasy use the Awesome Degreaser.

  • Joanna Joanna on Dec 09, 2020

    yes, your response was very helpful,, thank you!

  • Helen Hickey Helen Hickey on May 26, 2021

    If the dresser is actually wood and not some sort of presswood you can always say and you know use a orbital sander or a belt sander and sand the dresser down I’ve actually done that to a dresser that I got from the Goodwill myself and then and then it’s your choice you were either going to paint or stain the wood back to whatever color you want