How to lighten oak furniture?

Benita Berry
by Benita Berry

Hi All. We have a few inherited vintage oak pieces (wardrobe, dresser, dressing table) which I am in the process of stripping down to bare wood... but even with the varnish gone it still is too dark. Since it belonged to hubby's granny-he is not happy with us painting and wants to leave it natural - so my only option is to lighten it. White lime wax is an option - or white washing... I would really appreciate advise from someone who has successfully brought a piece back to life by making it lighter and also the best options to seal it to prevent from turning yellow over a period of time. Thanks

  4 answers
  • Ken Erickson Ken Erickson on Jun 17, 2019

    We have an oak china hutch that I originally stained very dark. I eventually sanded the case down to remove all stain - lots of work. Then I re-stained with a light wood stain. However, the doors were too difficult to remove old stain, so I built new doors to save time. I used poly as a top coat, but shellac is also an alternative.

  • William William on Jun 17, 2019

    Stripping will not remove the stain since it has absorbed into the wood. Your best bet is to sand it down to raw wood. A power hand sander will speed up the process. Then you can stain a lighter color and seal with three coats of a water based polyurethane.

  • Michelle Leslie Michelle Leslie on Jun 18, 2019

    Hi Benita, I fund this restoration video that shows you how you can bleach oak furniture - Hope it helps

    • See 1 previous
    • Michelle Leslie Michelle Leslie on Jun 18, 2019

      You're most welcome Benita, I'll see if I can find anything else for you. Have you tried using a white wood stain? I know rustoleum has one and if I remember correctly you can also get a white Unicorn SPiT

  • Benita Berry Benita Berry on Jun 18, 2019

    Thanks Michelle... I live in South Africa - so some of the products you refer to are not available locally - we do get Rustoleum - but Unicorn Spit is not locally available...

    I will check out Rustoleum... they might have something that will work.. We have just sanded some more off and it is a LOT lighter already...