How to prep an oak cabinet for vinegar/steel wool stain?

I have an existing warm oak cabinet. I want to move it into my dining room, which is furnished with black-stained pieces. Being allergic to most chemicals, I want to use the vinegar/steel wool process to blacken the cabinet, but I've never used the stain on wood that has already been finished and (lightly) varnished. Does anyone know how to prep the cabinet? It will take a LOT of sanding if that is my only option. TY.
  7 answers
  • Janet Pizaro Janet Pizaro on Feb 03, 2016
    Is this what you are looking for?
  • LD LD on Feb 04, 2016
    You would need to remove the varnish, no matter what kind of finish your applying. Here a link for sweetest stripping removal products, I have personally used Citristrip, and I didn't have any issues with the smell , and I have a hypersensitive nose: //,,20248403,00.html. You may want to consider Mine as Polyshades:
  • Bonnie Cant-Decide Bonnie Cant-Decide on Feb 04, 2016
    Thank you for confirming I need to strip the furniture first. Unfortunately I am allergic to the chemicals in stripping agents, so I will have to hand sand the whole cabinet. Bummer, LOL. I have a top coat that I am not allergic to (at least I can use it if I wear a mask -it is very green but I can't remember the name of it). I will dig it out. TY again.
  • Bonnie Cant-Decide Bonnie Cant-Decide on Feb 04, 2016
    That is the process, yes, but the tutorials don't tell hiw to prep the wood if it already has a finish on it. I'm allergic to the chemicals in stripping agents. I'm going to have to sand my piece. Thank you for the reply tho.
  • Country Design Home Country Design Home on Feb 05, 2016
    Hi Bonnie! When I want to change the existing color of a finished wood piece, I use General Finishes Stains and Milk Paints. They are water-based, have barely any odor. You do not have to strip the original finish down at all. If something is really shiny, I will just use some steel wool and scuff it up, wipe it down and then start staining! Paint it on, wipe it off. Allow to dry. Repeat for darker color. It really is that simple. They actually have a color called Pitch Black, or you could use a walnut, whatever comes closest to the effect you are trying to achieve. Good luck!
  • Bonnie Cant-Decide Bonnie Cant-Decide on Feb 06, 2016
    Thank you. I'm going to Home depot in the morning - I will look for it.
  • Bonnie Cant-Decide Bonnie Cant-Decide on Feb 06, 2016
    Have not done the project yet, but got all the info I need as to how to prepare for it - which was what my question​ was about. Thank you.